This is my lawyer. I used to be fooled by his innocent demeanor, but he won me over so often I decided it was no contest. One of our early debates was over his bedtime. I was unhappy because he was riding the headboard of his bed and yelling "Yee-hah!" while using his bathrobe tie as a whip to gallop faster towards midnight. I went into his room for the 100th time, temper flaring, and announced very firmly that he was supposed to be asleep. He responded with, "Mom, you're beautiful when you're angry." Of course I tucked him in with snuggles and tickles, and he knew he had me.
We used to have interviews with the kids on Sunday afternoons. Dee and I would alternate and invite one child or another in to chat. The idea was to let them know we cared about their inner psyches, and to find out what was going on in their crazy, little minds. One Sunday I was visiting with Miggs (age 6) and I asked him if he had any problems. He hesitantly said, "Yes, just one." I coaxed a little, reassuring him that he could confide in me without concern. He finally said, "I can't fly. I've tried and tried, but I still can't." I must have given him a good answer because he took off about that time and he's still flying!
He is a fabulous writer. He became a journalist in Jr. High. He worked for the school paper there and continued through high school. I caught him sluffing at a local coffee shop, during school hours, and he convinced me it wasn't really sluffing, "It's where the journalists hang out." By then I was used to believing him. I envisioned him as Bob Woodward. When my friends reported they'd seen him there, I told them it was part of his job. In college he continued to work for a newspaper. In fact that's how he met his wife.
He interviewed her for a job. He could feel the sparks flying, and told me later she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. He saw her later that day on campus. He gave her his best imitation of Clark Kent, daily reporter of a great metropolitan newspaper, and she gave him a disgusted, get lost kind of response. The sparks had gone out. He met her again at a party that weekend, and she was all "Come, hither," which confused him. She solved the mystery by explaining that she was a twin! He'd seen her sister on campus, who had no clue that he had been subtly encouraged to make his move. He had found the girl of his dreams, but he had to figure out which one she was. It all worked out and they got married in the end.
She became the wind beneath his wings and he was definitely flying now. He honed his idealism by working for the ACLU, and graduated with an English major. He and his wife posed in matching caps and gowns with their 6 month old baby. It was on to Law School to polish his briefs and learn billing skills. With those abilities and another baby in tow, he set off to make his mark.
For me, one of the great joys of being a mother is discovering the traits kids have brought with them. Before I had kids, I thought they were like a chunk of clay that I would mold into the person I wanted. Now I see them as a chunk of marble waiting (like Michelangelo's figures) to be freed from inside. I think of myself as chinking away a few pieces of stone until they can stretch out and remove the rest of the rock themselves. Then we'll both discover who they've been all along.
This particular kid was a charmer from day one. In fact the first day I took him to church was the Sunday before Christmas, when he was two weeks old. I laid him in his infant seat on the floor while I got the other kid's coats off. An ancient man who I'd never seen before and never saw again stood gazing down at the baby. He looked up at me and solemnly said, "This is a special spirit sent from God to you. God knows where he is and will watch over him. He is more intelligent than most, and has a great work to do." I don't know if this guy was moved by the Christmas story, senile, or just stating the obvious (couldn't this apply to any baby?) but it was impressive to me. I always felt privileged to have Miggs in my home.
I had to confront a few of my own devils as I was raising Miggs. At age five he came home with a few catchy four-letter words, and one particularly catchy three letter word. Knowing he hadn't learned them from me (I used different four-letter words), but realizing my own vocabulary was star-studded at times, I made a pact with him that if he didn't swear, I wouldn't either. I don't know if that changed him at all, but it changed me. Twenty eight years later I still remember my promise to him if one of those words slips out.
I could often recognize a lie because I had become proficient at them myself as a teenager. I could sometimes "feel" that Miggs was protecting me from his antics, and we had many little chats about what he'd told me and what had really gone on. One dark wintry afternoon he told me that he and his high school buddies were going to play basketball. He had a broken arm at the time, so I questioned him about playing with his cast. He joked me off and said he'd be home by dinner. I could tell there was a lie in there somewhere, but there was nothing to confront him with so off he went.
By the time dinner was cleaned up I was getting nervous. I had called around and found that there hadn't been a basketball game amongst the friends that day. I knew he would not want to be caught in his own web, and would be trying to get home on time, so I worried that something serious had happened. By 8:pm I was pacing the floor, letting loose with all my star-studded words, and at 9:pm I felt like throwing up. Finally the phone rang.
Apparently they had gone up into the mountains deer hunting (in the dark? with guns? no adults? without telling anyone where they were going?....oh, no, no, no, no,...this was so not allowed...) and had killed a deer far from the road. They were dragging a two million pound deer a mile or more and decided they needed to gut it. With his arm in a cast, my mountain man had reached in and pulled out all the insides of the dead animal. With a lightened load, they made it back to the truck and down the canyon safely.
I don't remember what happened to the poor deer, but my poor dear could not argue his way out of this one. He received justice. For one thing, no amount of cologne poured down his cast could cover the stench of his sins. He lived with that for another four weeks. He also had to find his girlfriend another date for the prom, (but he still had to pay for it) while he sat at home and counted up his billable hours. I think it may have been during this time that he learned to write numerous defense arguments, only to have a wise judge shoot them down. The Supreme Court was just as harsh, and this infraction is written up in the annals of our family.
The prediction came true. Miggs has always been involved in great works. He's been a star athlete, a leader, a counselor, a teacher, an adviser, trusted in his young life with huge responsibilities, which he's handled magnificently. He is kind, and fair, exacting and very intelligent, plus funny and fun and witty.
Experience is a great teacher, and Miggs has become a wise father to four darling kids. The girls are brilliant and perfect like their mother and the boys are going to follow in their father's footsteps. When one of them throws rocks at the sheriff's windows, and then dashes in yelling, "Mom, Mom! Do we have a lawyer???" She'll calmly say, "Yes, Dear, we have a lawyer."