helicopter parents (la merced and dodger blue)

Be that as it may, this goat is possibly superior to myself in that she doesn’t curse like a pirate around her kid. Anthropomorphizing as a habit is to be avoided, along with corny puns, I suppose. It’s true I do my best to not indulge in it excessively around the boys for fear of giving them a bad grasp on the natural sciences, animal behavior or whatnot although some of the most passionate, favorite wildlife biologists of mine fall prey to the tendency.

June 2019 - Mt. Ellinor 148

This will be the final image in my Non-Native Wildlife of the Olympics series featuring goats with dingleberries and leftover, tattered winter coats. It’s probable these two will have been airlifted out of this part of the range by the end of August, part of a campaign to remove mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula. Jesus Christ, some of them are even getting helicoptered out with mind-altering drugs and cushy blindfolds!  As for the cursing, I’m neither potty mouth nor puritan, the boys delight in chastising me over my slightly more than semi-occasional lack of self-control which is gratifying to me, accountability is a paramount virtue in our household.

Wednesday saw me dropping Adam off at the ferry terminal for Camp Orkila. While I was inclined to stay until the boat arrived he encouraged me to leave. During the drive north to Anacortes, that fishing village cum retirement mecca and jumping-off point for the San Juan Islands, I stole glances at my handsome, oldest baby boy with those tiny prepubescentish dotty pimples begging for recreational popping and goofy death metal straining the tinny speakers of his headphones. As we descended into Skagit Valley, his voice cracked like a dinner plate. Yipes! Two nights ago in our very dungeon-like, unfinished basement (having graciously volunteered to crash there on a musty old sofa across from the washing machine in order that his cousin visiting from Lake Michigan Country could have his bed so she didn’t have to sleep like a sardine with Grandma in the back room) I kissed him goodnight on the forehead. He looked up at me in surprise so I wheeled around, kissing him again and he laughed like I told him a corny joke and ever since I’ve been struggling with an acute case of phantom limb. This morning I wrote him a letter because he should have something to tuck under his tearstained pillowcase, like everyone else. The letter was mostly blabbations regarding the history of La Merced, that landmark old schooner with trees growing out of it that anyone on the way to the Anacortes ferry terminal will see, it’s down in Lovric’s shipyard. What I’d written seemed a little dry around the edges so I enclosed a few old Dodgers baseball cards and cut out the latest box scores. Adam’s a huge Dodgers fan, in the beginning it was because of Dodger blue, legitimate as any reason when you’re ten years old but now he’s actually become something of an authority on the team. I’ve thought of taking him down to Chavez Ravine later this summer for a game. You know, as if LA is just a couple hours down the coast……

8 thoughts on “helicopter parents (la merced and dodger blue)

  1. There’s probably government funding for studying Goat PTSD after their freaky drug-and-sense-of-flying-blindfolded experience, but the Phantom Limb of the Helicopter Parents is probably pretty intractable. Actual paper letters are great though

    • The YMCA runs the camp and also gives families and friends the option of submitting letters electronically which thereafter are printed for their campers to read in privacy from the top bunks. Adam’s part of a group that’s exploring the Sound by kayak each day so we suspect he hasn’t had the least time to read any of the letters or packages we’ve sent by snail-mail because he’s always away from the main camp. Furthermore, we checked his canteen account (like I say, this camp is wired) and he has yet to purchase a single snack, not even a little chocolate bar. Hope you’re having a relaxing time back home and the weather is cooperating a little bit for some exploring.

      • I went to camp for a week when I was 8 or 9, I think, and found my mother had mailed letters before I’d even left home, and had ordered up a couple more batches from grandmothers, aunts, etc. so it ended up being kind of embarrassing, but they just put mail in cubbyholes and didn’t call it out like Radar O’Reilly, and avoided any teasing.
        We’ve been getting out in the woods a bit, more water than last summer, so more bugs, but lots of green and wildflowers, too.
        I’m sure your son will arrive home with lots of stories and descriptions of fellow-campers, and maybe new recipes for gorp, etc.

  2. I love “I stole glances at my handsome, oldest baby boy…” and “As we descended into Skagit Valley, his voice cracked like a dinner plate…” Wow I have all this to come, and I thought I was silly calling my six year old son “baby boy” occasionally still, even though he has a not yet five week younger brother. They’ll always be our babies… The photo is very apt too, well done.

    • Hi Dan. I hope younger brother is doing well as can be. We have an infant adjacent across the street and when I listen to the pleasant rhythmic patterns of his hunger cries from his parents’ upstairs window floating over the neighborhood those warm summer nights I’ll think of you. Yes, they will always be our babies. Sometimes I can be a bit of a tiger father which is strangely at odds with how I think of myself it’s something I’ve become far more self-aware of the past couple years with my younger boy who is not the terrific easygoing pleaser his big brother is, there have been lots of much-needed lessons in relationship physics, I’m lucky to be figuring some of these things out now instead of hitting my head into a brick wall later on (the labyrinth surely continues in ways I can’t fathom at this time). Not to be a broken record player but like I say my older son’s transition to very young adulthood has utterly snuck up on me like a thief in the night and without being totally transparent about it (which is tricky because my boys are usually totally on to me) I’ve been wheelbarrowing as much tenderness as he can handle before the rough coming of age stuff starts so he somehow can know deep down that I’m always there for him even when he hates my guts for being a lame three-eyed alien species from Mars or Jupiter. Sorry I haven’t joined in on more of the conversations on your essays although I’ve certainly been reading each voraciously as I always do in the hopes of someday accumulating the knowledge base to become a more fully functioning participant in your enviable community of sages.

      • J, I’ve found one of the biggest challenges of being a parent is how it unearths a thousand memories about how I was raised by my own parents that I’d forgotten about (but apparently not erased permanently).

        I imagine most of us try to take what we feel were the good things our parents did and emulate those, and recognise their inevitable shortcomings, and try to sidestep the same traps ourselves.

        Like you say about your kids, I know that both of my parents, despite their flaws (we are all human), I never doubted that they’d be there for me (and still would be in my mum’s case, my father dies years ago) whatever happened. Even if they weren’t together (they spilt up when I was just starting secondary school). I hope to instil the same reassurance and security in my kids, as a platform to venture forth and make whatever they want for themselves in their lives.

      • Oh and regarding my own blog posts, I’m happy you’re reading, and yes join in when and where you feel you can, your words are always welcome.

        I think we’re all finding our way, that’s a great thing with personal blogs, we’re all on a journey, sharing our experiences and learning from each other. None of us are experts or have figured it all out (photography, or indeed life in general!!)

  3. Such a bittersweet post TF. It’s odd as a non parent to watch children grow from a far. Whether they belong to family, friends, or neighbors, it is a surprise how quickly it does happen. I never considered how startling it might also be to their parents who are with them day in and day out.

    I have always had the impression from your blog that one thing you do well and consistently is spend quality time with your boys. Your writing revolves around them. The love is palpable. Those tender little moments will be important memories someday reminding them of the love their Dad gave them. How awesome.

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