My nephew’s birthday was yesterday. He is twelve years old and even writing that seems odd to me. Living it has been more than odd – especially lately. Clay has become a bit of a stubborn and ungrateful little butt hole in his old age, and he’s wreaking havoc on all of our lives, especially my sister’s. I hear this is quite common with kids approaching the teenage years, and I suppose I should just add it to my ever growing list of reasons I’m glad I don’t have children, but his whole demeanor has got me in a funk. I miss the sweet little boy that I have connected with for so long; the “mini me” that made me realize I was probably a really cute and funny kid, too. And I have reason to believe that his monster behavior isn’t entirely his fault. I won’t go into how mortified I am that he’s turning out to be just like his father because it would take me far too long to go there, and it’s just not something I can write about and remain sophisticated and professional in the eyes of my public.
I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember, and I recently found an entry from 12/4/94 that I wrote while waiting to board a plane in Louisville, Kentucky. I was headed to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to meet Clay, then only 2 days old, for the very first time. It was an emotional day for me for many reasons, and I already felt strangely connected to this little creature since we were both Sagittarians and both the first grandchild. Deep down, I also knew he was in for a tough one. There had already been major drama from my mother (Shocking, I know.) about whether or not my father should be “allowed” to visit his first grandchild in the hospital. She had caused another one of her scenes and I felt horribly irresponsible and guilty that my little sister had to handle her without me there.
Maybe I thought the birth of this baby would take some of the edge off. I actually believed that Mother would turn into a reasonable person at the same time she became a grandmother. I guess that was a sick fantasy I created to torture myself. I mean, seriously, did her mother turn into a reasonable person when she became a grandmother? No, she did not…and now poor Clayton Alexander pops right into the middle of all of this.
Maybe it’s better to use this (one of the many examples of crazy behavior he will witness in his lifetime) as an opportunity to teach a child how not to be. Maybe this is an opportunity to teach a child the way to be loving, forgiving and optimistic. WOW. I just got a glimpse of what an amazing responsibility parenthood is. And parenthood in the middle of this mess could be close to impossible. Thank God it’s not me.
There are many things about Clay that remind me of myself at his age. Not the least of which is the confusion and frustration associated with trying to love two adults who don’t even like each other. Who can blame him for being a bit angry and bitter? I’ve lived it and it sucks. But I have to believe that if I had known at age twelve that there was an “Aunt Mandy” out there who believed in me, wanted the best for me, and was absolutely crazy in love with me, it would have been easier. And I think I would have been nice to her on occasion.
So I will keep trying to “communicate” with him even though he’s avoiding me like the plague right now. Does “kicking his ass” count as communicating? Because he really needs it. Happy Birthday, Clay. I love you.