Sunday, August 9, 2009
Scooter's Day Out
Scooter Libby is tired. He spent half the day in an uncomfortable car seat and the other half on a sight seeing boat on Crystal Lake. His mother promised the day would be fun as they pulled out of the driveway early in the morning. She promised a boat trip and a picnic. She said there could be pirates. Well so far, the day hasn't been fun. The road trip was nearly unbearable for two reasons - the car seat was hard, with straps that hurt his shoulders, and he had to sit next to Grandpa Libby. Scooter loved his Grandpa Libby - from a distance.
Grandpa had his own house once, until Scooter's dad said he was "a danger to himself". Scooter helped his dad move Grandpa into the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Senile. According to their advertisements, the staff of Nearly There excelled in providing assistance to the senior citizen too aged to care for themselves yet to stubborn or senile to understand they couldn’t.
Several months ago Grandpa entered the home thin. On each family outing everyone but Scooter noticed he kept growing thinner. Scooter was too young to recognize the weight loss but wasn’t too young to recognize bad smells, and Grandpa Libby smelled bad.
“Grandpa stinks,” Scooter told his mother before Grandpa stumbled into the car from Nearly There’s sidewalk.
“I know Scooter. Grandpa's not happy living here. Its his way of showing us. We are not going to talk about this in front of Grandpa because it will make Grandpa and Daddy get into a fight. So, don't say anything.” Mother replied.
Scooter understood to keep quiet and waited for the van to start moving. The air coming through the window was his only solution to the odor.
Several minutes passed. The van was still parked. Scooter couldn't see his dad - his mother’s shoulder was in the way. The car seat’s straps held him tightly down when he tried to push himself up to look out the windshield. He gave up after three attempts. His mother either understood Scooter’s distress or was overcome by Grandpa's smell and turned the key to lowered the Van’s power windows. A breeze filled the car. Voices accompanied the breeze. Scooter recognized his Dad’s. He was yelling to someone about Grandpa. Scooter couldn’t understand all the words but knew when his dad was mad. His dad was really mad.
"Why's daddy yelling?" Scooter asked his mother.
"Nothing to worry about dear," Mother answered.
"Don't want to stay here. I want to go home. I'm not eating much, only enough to stay alive. The food tastes like cardboard. And I'll not bathing much until my demands are met. If it worked for Gandhi then it will work for me." Grandpa was a stubborn stubborn man. Scooter tried to imagine what cardboard tasted like. He put that thought aside for future experimentation and decided to ask about something else.
"Why can't you go home?" Scooter asked.
"George..... this isn't the time or place for this discussion. Scooter look at your book." Mother handed Scooter his picture book on Dinosaurs. She gave Grandpa a hard look. Grandpa shifted in his seat and folded his arms.
Dad opened the van door and got in.
"Dad, this is unacceptable behavior on your part."
"Don't you start on me. You're the one that said I was unable to care for myself. Why I lived on my own since your mother died....."
"Stop!" Mother yelled. It frightened Scooter. He dropped his picture book. "This was going to be a nice day out. I won't hear another word about Nearly There because I'm Nearly at wit's end with both of you."
Mother had the last word that morning. There was nothing more said on the subject.
The boat was interesting. It had nooks and crannies and compartments and a steering wheel and an anchor and life vests. Scooter was ready to begin several hours of exploring. His mother took his hand as they approached the gangplank and didn’t release it until he was seated next to the outer hull of the boat on his right and his mother on his left. He struggled to slip down to the floor and scamper under the benches to find the pirates. There had to be pirates. Grandpa said they were going on his old pirate ship. He told Scooter what it was like being a pirate. Scooter asked why he wasn't a pirate now. Grandpa said he gave it up when Scooter's dad was born.
Each time Scooter straightened out flat to slide down the bench his mother grabbed his leg, gave it a squeeze and told him to stay still. If he pouted his mother squeezed his leg harder. He understood the consequences and gave up.
The boat left dock. Scooter heard the engine and felt the bumping of the boat against the water. He got up on his knees to see over the side. He wasn't tall enough. He could see the disappearing shoreline but not the water. He started to stand. Mother took his hand and held him down.
“No standing. Didn’t you hear the captain?” She asked.
“I can’t see.” Scooter explained.
Mother took him by the waist and sat him on her lap. It was a bit better but he still couldn’t see the water. He struggled. Her hand was back on his leg. He understood and stopped. Mother would not stand for a temper tantrum in public. Having one at home was one thing. She would send him to his room. Having one in public was entirely different.
Scooter was asleep ten minutes into the journey. It was all too much for a young boy. Mother let him sleep for the rest of the lake excursion. A picnic was planned for later. He could run around and explore then.