Metro-East Living

As parents, all of that worrying and fretting we did over our children was not in vain

When my son, Sam, was barely 3, he almost drove away with a boat. We were swimming in the lake behind our home at the time, me in my bikini — yep, I could wear one then — and Sam in his little one-piece life jacket. All of a sudden, he’s scurrying up the boat’s ladder, hopping into the driver’s seat and turning the key.

One second, he’s floating beside me. The next second, I hear, “Vroom! Vroom!” Now you may think I’m a mother who doesn’t keep track of her son. Just the opposite. I’m extremely neurotic.

“It happened so fast,” I told my husband, Mark, later. “If that little rascal had known how to throw the boat into gear, I’m pretty sure he would have hit me.”

Instead, I gave him a teary-eyed lecture.

“What would you do if you ran over your mama?” I asked.

His answer — “Get a new one!” It’s the stuff family legends are made of.

In that moment, I went from crying to laughing. I never again left the boat key unattended and I began hiding my car keys for good measure.

Fast forward 18 years. The pint-sized boat captain is now an electrical engineer. Like his father, he is level-headed and a really good driver. Like his mother, he loves animals and chocolate.

I adore the man he has become but I miss the little boy he was. Yes, I know that sounds sappy. But I’m the woman who cries while looking at old photos of her pets. Burned brownies also make me emotional.

“Where did the time go?” I asked my best pal, Lydia Kachigian. Lyd has three daughters who grew up thinking of my son, Sam, as their cousin. We have spent years discussing the escapades of our children — and a fortune dying the grey hairs they have given us.

“I guess we should be thankful they’ve made it this far,” Lydia said, seriously.

“Easy for you to say,” I told her. “I’m the one who does all the worrying.”

Lyd is not a worrier. She doesn’t have to be because I do it for her. My premise has always been, “It’s the one you forget to worry about that will get into trouble.”

So far, the perfect angel of the bunch has been Lydia’s youngest daughter, Ellie, 15. If Ellie is doing any bad stuff, she’s done a good job of hiding it. I occasionally wring my hands for her, just in case.

As for Sam? Well, I should have carpal tunnel syndrome from all the hand wringing I do for him. I like to think all that worrying once kept him from driving away with a boat.

He now drives a Kia Optima.

And in case you were wondering, he never got a new mama.