Holy Hydroplane, Batman!

Glad you could join us for the next harrowing episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot H
Photo credit: Grayson Hartman

One moment, Elliot’s foot surged over moist dirt, the next, it hit a large, wet stone and surfed across its surface, out of control and gaining speed as he streaked toward a precipitous drop into the roiling rapids.


To be continued…

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

#AtoZChallenge  A-to-Z Fictioneers: Interested in original fiction? Here’s a list of writers who are writing stories for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. The author’s link will take you to their “A” post. If you know of any other story writers I can share, please drop the link in the comments!

Today’s twofer from April 10, 2016:

The Horror!

I was going to be a parent. I was ready. (It’s so cute that I thought that.)

Parenting is hard. Single parenting can be torture. We make mistakes.  We have no idea what we’re doing. We’re sure we’ve ruined our kid’s life — or kids’ lives — because:

“No one taught me how to be a parent!” Every first-time parent.

Maybe you just weren’t paying attention.

Unless you raised yourself in a desert or a jungle or an ice cave of Hoth, and not even the wolves or wampas wanted you, parenting lessons were all around. Every waking moment.

There are lots of people who had way worse childhoods than mine. People who were truly neglected, abused, or unwanted. But none of us survive childhood unscathed. Everybody carries at least a Dolce & Gabbana clutch of baggage into Adulthood.

Dolce & Gabbana clutch
Pack up your troubles … Dolce & Gabbana style.

My childhood was filled with sisters, family meals, science experiments, trips to Disneyland, the zoo, the fair, birthday parties, Santa Claus, vacations, movies, TV, and music. My baggage wasn’t Dolce & Gabbana, but I took up residence in Adulthood with a train case Mom got me on sale. Probably at Sears.

Train case 4
Did you pack your own bag. No? It’ll never get through Security.

I unpacked it one painful memory at a time, like broken bits of crayon, examining each with as objective an eye as I could command, imagining a way to turn those bits into a beautiful artwork of my life. A few pieces were from old friends. Mom added four chunks: one putrid pink, one angry red, one glowering black, and one slap-in-the-face fuscia (a story for another day — maybe). Dad gave me all the rest.

Growing up during the Great Depression, he had certain values I didn’t share: Having a job was important; you didn’t have to like it. Financial security was important; that’s where happiness came from. He was a very intelligent man with an empiricist’s approach to everything. Hence his career as an aerospace engineer.

His best advice to me was:

“Never get married. Learn to take care of yourself.” Dear old Dad

That wasn’t one of the broken crayons. That was a wall-sized coloring page that hung in my brain and remained uncolored till I was on my own.

I’m not sure how he expected me to follow that advice. According to him, I never did anything correctly. My judgment of people was poor. My experience was meaningless. Nothing I did was interesting or important. I would never amount to anything unless I majored in math and got into computers where I could start at a decent wage and they couldn’t stop me because I was a woman. He was always right and I was always wrong.

Every. Day.

Maybe being an introvert saved me. Instead of getting angry, pouting in my room, and vowing to run out in the street, get hit by a truck, and die — then he’d be sorry! — I tried to figure out why he was like that. How had his parents treated him? I made allowances for him to be who he was, but I watched my own progress to see who I was. Did my judgment about people prove to be accurate? Did I learn from my mistakes? I pulled the plug on my inner cassette player to stop the tapes my dad had recorded in my head. I would never treat a child like that. That’s an effective parenting lesson.

Cassette player
Thank goodness they don’t make ’em like this anymore.

By the time my son was three, I had dealt with all that crap and was satisfied I had erased those tapes.

Three is a trying age. People talk about Terrible Twos, but they are little angels compared to the Threatened Threes. My 22+ years of child care support this. Every single 3-year-old on Earth is lucky to make it to four. 2-year-olds will tell you, “No!” but it’s a game, and it’s easy to distract them. (Don’t bother to argue — 22+ years of experience here.) But 3-year-olds mean it. They are testing you. If you show weakness, they will Eat. You. Alive.

Sometimes you have to yell at them.

Imagine my horror the first time I opened my mouth to yell at my 3-year-old son, and Dad came out.

Oh, the Horror!

WHOA! I clamped my mouth shut so fast, I’m not sure my son heard me yell anything at all. (Fortunately, most 3-year-olds are also selectively deaf.) But it shook me so hard, it changed me for the better; from that moment on, I worked to be a much more mindful parent than I had been.

So to all you new “I don’t know how to do this” parents: No more whining. No more excuses. We spend our childhood learning how to be a parent. Do something worthwhile with all those broken crayons.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 2.42.35 AM
“Broken Bits Made Whole” and “Flying Dreams in Living Color”

Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

18 thoughts on “Holy Hydroplane, Batman!”

  1. I’m not a parent (yet), but I already know I want to do things in a way so that my child will never feel like I was made to feel when I was growing up. I’m introverted, as well as extremely empathetic. I was called “too sensitive” my entire life and told to “grow a thicker skin” as if I could magically do that. I thought there must be something wrong with me, some defect, because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t not be hurt by bullying, teasing, etc. Now as an adult, I logically know that that thinking is flawed, but the emotional impact remains, and it’s something I don’t want to pass to any offspring. Oh, I know I’ll make mistakes. I can admit that, but I also think just THAT is important. Too many parents think they’re infallible when it comes to their children. They don’t think they need to improve, so they don’t, and to quote Frederick Douglas, “It is easier to raise strong children than to repair broken men.” I take that quote to heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t heard that quote, but it rings true. The challenge is defining “strong” and figuring out how to raise strong children. To some, that might mean teaching them to fight. Or standing up to bullying. Or knowing what they themselves want and helping them earn confidence in their own abilities by teaching them how to do things to live up to their responsibilities. You just can never know for sure how any particular decision you make will affect their future selves. It’s definitely not easy, but the fact that you’re thinking about it now increases your odds of success. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so right. I worry/think about it a lot because of everything you can mess it, that is the one thing you don’t want to. I always worry about other people, and this would be a person I’m literally raising. It’s terrifying when you really delve into it!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading about you and your Dad sure hits home, except for me it was my Mom whose tapes played over and over in my head. I sure do love your writing style, Susan! So expressive and heartfelt. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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