Tuesday, May 14, 2013

You Are So Overprotective, Mom

Those are some words I never thought I'd hear.  And how odd to have them spoken by my 12-year-old son, Bo, in a circumstance so totally unmerited.  This social experiment I'm undertaking--distancing  my boys from the frenetic merry-go-round of Stateside childhood, and bestowing upon them the chance to be free range and independent--seems to have been lost on my kids.  Where did I go wrong?

Bo writhing in pain the street
My children have found themselves in uncountable situations that would be newsworthy if they were still in our green, lush neighborhood in Lutherville, Maryland (where I was known to have the basement from which the most boys emerged bleeding).  Here in San Miguel accidents seem somewhat commonplace: I have taken Redding to the emergency room because he fell off the rooftop of a neighbor's house, trying to rappel down its interior wall using an iron sconce as his ladder.  It broke, predictably, he fell, predictably, started bleeding, looked ashen, and was curled up in a ball on the cement patio.  Then the real fun started.  The house is not occupied; the patio was several feet below.  He was too hurt to climb back up the wall; normally he would be halfway up an orange tree with its sharp thorns and sturdy branches, his way of accessing other gardens.  

So our friend, Tom, whose house shares a common wall with these neighbors, gets his extension ladder and lowers it into the garden.  He climbs down, puts Redding over his back (fortunately he's underweight and slightly malnourished--a by-product of loving salads), and lugs him up the ladder fireman-style.

Lantern on wall at left, Redd falls down
into the garden (lantern has now been fixed
and by some weird twist of fate we lived in this
house later for 5 weeks
We take off for the ER; Redd's looking faint and close to passing out in the back seat of the car.  We carry him straight in through the swinging surgery doors, bypassing the throngs waiting in the main lobby with gripa and tooth pain; I learned that trick from my own foray to this same hospital with a head wound two summers ago.

Someone stitches him up, somewhat amateurishly; he still has a decent scar on the back of his thigh where the point of the black metal lantern punctured his leg.  Or maybe the scar is there because he took out his own stitches at home.  I did take him back to the hospital once, I swear.  But when it's not an actual emergency it's quite tricky trying to find someone to help you.  And maybe it was a Sunday.  Things were quiet.  There wasn't an identifiable nurse for love or money.  I figured I could just do it myself.  But when we got home Reddy got out some tweezers and some scissors and got busy.

But I digress.  So what happened last night?  We were waiting in the doctor's office to get yellow fever vaccinations for our upcoming trip to South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia. If Zambia didn't require proof of immunization to get into the country I would never bother.  Are we really going to get yellow fever in three days?  I'll drink bottled water, try not to come into contact with bleeding sores of infected locals.  (In truth, I have no idea how you get yellow fever or what it is.)  We're skipping malaria pills: too many possible side effects, like hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, weird things going on in your head and body.  Everyone can wear long sleeves and DEET.  

Santiago, Ricardo's son, holding the heart of a freshly
slaughtered pig.  His aunt raises hogs on their family farm.
So we're waiting for the one and only person in this town who can track down a yellow fever vaccination, Dr. Ricardo Gordillo,  a handsome dude with a Mexican dad, a German mom, and a super-stylish British wife.  (He said it was very difficult fo find; there is no zoster vaccine for shingles or ZARS for avian flu in all of Mexico).  Perhaps all this sleuthing is why he forgot our appointment; his receptionist called him at home after seeing nothing in her books.  Twenty minutes later, while out buying a tub of mango and watermelon with lime and chile for the starving Mason, I see Ricardo roaring down Insurgentes on his huge red motorcycle with his huge black helmet.  It's the same hog he rides to school every morning with his trilingual, fourth-grade son, Santiago.  We wave, he parks, we head back to his clinic for our shots.  
A close up of that heart.  Santiago has no qualms about
watching the butchering.  Sam bought a whole
pig for them and apparently he didn't either.

Sam's got his motorcycle at the clinic too.  He brought Redding and Mason from circus class, while Bo and I walked from home.  There's another story, worth a full entry: the Mexican trapeze-tela-hoops-and-other-dangerous-aerial-props class held twice a week in a sweltering, tin warehouse one accesses by walking up several flights of stairs and across the roof top of a derelict hotel off the libremiento.  Over-protective my ass. You should see the tricks these kids perform way high up in the air with no nets, no harnesses, just a pile of musty gym mats below them.  They'll be in The Nutcracker in December. I'll take photos.

So the mean mom tells Bo that he can't go to dinner on the bike with his two brothers and his father.  Sam's bike is no Ricardo-mobile.  It's a compact Honda 150CC that fits two people nicely.  Three is a stretch, even though that's how Sam, Redd and Bo get to school every day.  But Bo doesn't want to walk with me to the Longhorn Steakhouse where we're meeting friends for rueben night (what a treat on Mondays).  He's insisting that all four of them can fit on the bike; he'll cover his head with a backpack so the transitos don't notice he's not wearing a helmet.   He doesn't understand how I can be so irrational.  When I tell him he's not getting on the motorcycle he lobs at me, "Mom, you are SO overprotective."  I just laugh.  What else can you do?  And throw him a carrot: we'll take a taxi.  He gets in and snuggles up next to me and we ride off to reuben night.

The guys, Sam, Redd and Bo, riding off to the Victoria Robbins School on an unusually cloudy day.  This is the street
in front of our house.

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