Life goes on, and that’s a lesson I have learned the last couple of months. My dad, who’s been the greatest with Parker, has really helped me with the loss of Rose. Rose disappeared and no one has heard from her since she left Riverview.
Dad and I have been working on our relationship, its tough though. We still fight constantly. Yet, we also enjoy watching a good game on the television or popping in a Netflix movie in the DVD player. One thing’s for sure, when Parker grows up, I could totally see him becoming a couch potato. He loves watching movies, even at ten months old. It’s uncanny how much he gets warped into a good movie, and if I put him to bed before its over he screams at the top of his lungs.
Dad’s been a huge help with him, especially in the mornings. Parker has yet to let me get a good nights rest since he was born. Dad, tries to be there at all possible. I still end up waking though. Parker’s screams are so loud they can wake the dead.
One morning I found dad feeding Parker even before he started to scream. I woke and yawned. “Morning.” He whispered.
“Morning, what are you doing up so early?” I asked, pretty shocked that my dad was up before dawn.
“Couldn’t sleep. I found Park here, wide awake. I figured I’d feed him before he started to cry.” Dad smiled up at me. I looked down at my happy son. He just looked at me and smiled as he sucked the bottle.
Alice has made some changes, and I personally hate them. I started to notice that she was ditching school a lot and hanging out with the loners at school. I was popular, but not for a good reason, I was the only one in school that had a child. The girls flocked to me and cooed over the pictures I had on my binder, it was nice. Alice, though, she started to distance herself from the crowds, and from me.
I discovered why the changes, pretty quickly. I had walked out of the school, getting ready to head home when I found my sister locked on with some dude. I knew who he was, Chris Anderson, one of the drug dealers that live in a trailer park not far from us. He was also a senior in high school. I went red when I saw the two of them. As I walked closer I saw exactly where Chris’ hands were, and I went from mad to really pissed off. His hands were down her pants, not on them, but IN THEM! The big brother instincts I felt took over and I marched over there and tore her away from him. “TRAVIS, WHAT THE FUCK!?!” She screamed as she pushed me.
“We are going home!” I yelled back grabbing her wrist. “NOW!”
Chris stepped in and pushed me, “No, she’s not. Dude, she’s with me.”
I punched him and then took Alice by the arm again. I dragged Alice onto the bus as she screamed.
We went at it at Dad’s. He was at the market, and I needed to scream at her. “YOU ARE NOT TO SEE HIM!” I yelled.
“Says who, you? Travis I can do whatever the hell I want. I am almost sixteen.”
“Almost being the key word. You want to see him? Hmmm? Look over there. . .” I turned my little sister around to face Parker in his crib, “That’s your future if you continue to act like this Al. That guy had a rep, and its not a good one.”
“Look who’s talking about having a rep! At least Chris hasn’t knocked up anyone!” She retorted. My ears went red and if it were possible, steam would have been coming out of them.
“Let me ask you something. . . How bout you? You two. . . Have you?” I was choking, I really didn’t want to know the answer.
“Please Trav, I ain’t stupid. The farthest we have gone is third base. I’m not like most girls, I have boundaries with Chris.” I sighed in relief. “Happy now?”
“No. I hate him and I still don’t want you to see him.”
“Well, too bad!” She turned and stormed out.
One night I was watching a movie with Alice and Parker and dad was in the bedroom on the phone. He came storming out and he looked at the three of us. “What’s up dad?” I asked, a bit scared.
“Alice, a word. NOW!” I had seen his face before like it was, and it never ended well. I tried not to listen, but it was hard not too, when you just knew she was in a heap of trouble. I hoped dad found out about the boyfriend. It was much better though.
“What’s up dad?” Alice asked with an award winning smile.
“I just spoke to your mother. You, young lady, have been ditching school.” I saw Alice’s smile drop. “She found your report card to, and I am not too pleased.”
“Uh. . .”
“Don’t give me that crap. I want some explaining young lady, now.” She just shrugged and then looked at me. I hid back behind the sofa and had a wide grin on my face. I was hoping that mom and dad would find out about her ditching. “Now I want your cell phone and your fishing pole.”
“WHAT! But that’s not fair! It’s not like you ever went to school!” I shot my eyes back at them. That wasn’t the best defense I would have gone for, but it was good. Calling him a hypocrite was a nice touch. Grandpa had told us all about dad when we went to visit him after our trip in France. My dad just stood there, trying to figure out how to respond.
“That’s no excuse. I will not see my kids grow up without a high school education. You will go to school, and you will get those grades back up. Do you understand me? And until I see some decent adjustments made by you, you are not getting your pole or cell back.”
Alice started to cry. She stormed into our room and slammed the door.
The day finally came, Parker’s birthday. I was seventeen, and just finishing my Junior year in high school. I woke up early in the morning, no thanks to Parker, and held him. He was screaming for me. When I held him, he reached for me and placed his small hand on my chest before falling back to sleep. “Happy birthday Park.” I whispered as I held him. I didn’t want this moment to end.
Alice decided to bring over Chris for Parker’s birthday. Dad was not pleased when he walked out of his room and saw the two of them kissing. I was in the kitchen preparing the candles for Parker’s cake when I heard dad. “WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON!?!” He yelled.
Alice and Chris parted. “Dad, this is my boyfriend Chris. Chris this my dad, David.”
“Sup dude.” I watched in laughter as he smacked my dad’s hand.
“It’s Mr. Rain.” Dad said through clenched teeth. I could tell right there he was not happy with Alice’s choice of boyfriend, that makes two of us.
I decided in the best interest of Alice and Chris that I would defuse the situation. I grabbed Parker from his crib and brought him out. “Cake time!” I said cheerfully to everyone. Dad looked like he was ready to kill Chris and have him for supper. He looked on over at the two of us and started to sing along with me. We all sang “Happy Birthday” to Parker before I helped him blow out the candle. It was hard to keep him from reaching the flame, but I did it.
Of course as soon as Parker aged up into his toddler years, dad had his camera out. He started to snap pictures like crazy. He wanted a million of them with me holding Parker. “Dad, I’m hungry. Can I have some cake, please?” I begged after he snapped another shot of Parker and I.
“Fine. Go eat cake.” He said as he put his camera away. He didn’t look happy. I know I hurt his feelings, but really, how many pictures do you need?
I loved my little man. I was a little thrown off that he took after Rose with his hair and eyes. I knew instantly that he would be a heartbreaker to so many girls, what with having sandy blonde hair and bright blue eyes. I felt sorry for all the girls already. I just hope that when it does come time for him to start dating that he would make better decisions than his mom and I ever made.
It didn’t surprise me that Parker still didn’t want to EVER sleep. He was up just as much as he was when he was an infant. I was going crazy! “PARKER GO TO SLEEP!” I yelled. He looked at me and momentarily stopped screaming. “NOW!” I wasn’t going to give in anymore to his relentless crying. He was old enough to sleep through the night. I stood there and waited as he screamed more. Eventually, I won the battle and he was back to sleep.
I found it to be exciting when Parker learned to talk. We were playing in the kitchen. He and I were chasing each other when he turned around and said, “dada poo.” I laughed but I was taken back. He spoke his first words, and he soiled his training pants. I picked him up and changed his pull-ups once again. We’re still working on potty training.
After his first word, Parker became a handful. He was always talking, always surprising dad and I. He called dad, gampa. It was at night that his talking took over the screaming. I would just lay in bed and try to sleep and all I could hear is, “dada, pway pway. Dada. . . . Dada. . . DADA! . . . UP dada, UP!” Eventually I would roll off the bed and pick him up.
“Parker it’s bed time. Go to sleep.” I would tell him.
“No, it pway time!” He would tell me.
“No bed time.” I was arguing with my own son. We went back and forth, “pway,” “sleep,” “pway” for five minutes before I started to get agitated with him. “Parker! It’s bed time!” By that time he was in his crib still begging to be played with. “Go to bed now!”
“No.” And that was the start of his favorite word.
Feeding Parker was just as hard as getting him into bed. I would sit him in the high chair and give him a bowl of oatmeal and he would just look at me with a look that said, “you have got to be kidding me.” He would try to push it on to the floor. “Parker, you push that off and onto the floor, your gonna be in big trouble.” I would tell him. “Now eat.”
“No.” Splat. Parker would push his food off and then start laughing.
“PARKER!” He would somehow always manage to get some on to my slacks.
Life was chaotic around the house. I was in my senior year of high school, my two year old knew exactly where to push my buttons, and my dad and I started to argue about one thing, college. After placing Parker on his naughty seat (dad taught me a few tricks) I sat next to him on the couch. “Can you believe him? He just threw his block at me.” I laughed.
Dad had a grin. “You should have seen yourself at that age. Although, you never threw anything at me, you did however use that mouth of yours.”
I laughed. “So. . .” I started again after a long pause. “Liberty Law School in Bridgeport called.”
My dad sighed. “Travis, we’ve talked about this. You have a son, you can’t just up and leave. You have a responsibility to that boy and you know it.”
“It’ll just be for a couple of years, and I’ll come down on the weekends to visit.”
He sighed again. “Travis, I know you want to go to college. I know you want to become a lawyer, but you can’t be selfish now. Look, even if you came every weekend, you are going to miss so much of his life. Trust me, I look at you and Ally and I wished that I had more time with the two of you. Please, just stay here, for his sake.” My dad stood and headed for the bathroom to let out Parker. I sat and thought about what he said. I know he only wants the best for both Parker and I, but I couldn’t help but feel defeated.
I came home after a very stressful day, it was midterms and the tests were killing me. I walked in, placed my bags on the table and looked around. That’s where I found Parker walking. HE WAS WALKING! I got on my knees and held out my hands for him, “dada!” He called out as he wobbled towards me.
“Now where did you learn how to walk Parker?” I asked, tossing him in the air.
“Gampa. We went to pawk.” He said happily.
It turns out my dad had been spending a lot of time with Parker in the park downtown. He taught Parker how to walk there. Dad also told me that when they weren’t at the park they were out in back and Parker would “help out” with the crops. Dad said that he and Parker were becoming great buddies.
The only thing about dad taking Parker out, that really aggravated me, was that he saw mom walking into the museum. Rather than just ignoring her, like I would have done, he followed in after her. Dad said that she was surprised to see him and asked “who’s the kid?”
“This lad is Parker. Parker can you say hi to grandma?” Dad then told me that mom looked very surprised at the news. She couldn’t believe that her grandson was almost two.
Dad told me Parker said “hi.” and used his heartwarming smile. I guess my mom took an instant liking to him. I hated the thought that she even saw him, but dad said she held him and played with him. I wanted to scream, but dad continued on with his story.
Dad told me that the three of them hung out all day. I was quite upset about this. I didn’t want my mother anywhere near my son. However, as he told the story he made me start to laugh.
My dad was busting up laughing while he talked. “Ella was standing there, watching Park walk to me, when this nice woman walked in. The woman said ‘aw, isn’t he cute.’ and your mother went, ‘yup he’s our grandson.’ I looked at her and smiled. The lady looked at us and went, ‘you two are so lucky to get to spend time with your grandson. How long have you been married?’ I laughed and told the lady the truth and when I went and introduced myself somewhat flirtatiously to the gal, cause she smiled after hearing about the divorce. I think she likes me,” my dad winked at me before continuing, “Your mother smacked me and stormed out of the room. Can you believe that? It was the funniest thing. She was red! I had a hard time not laughing.”
“Well did you get the other woman’s number?” I asked dad.
“Sure did. Her name’s Catherine, she’s a doctor.” He smiled and winked at me. I could only imagine how happy he was to meet a doctor. I just tried not to picture anything.
After hearing about my son’s adventures, I picked him up. “Did you see grandma today?” I asked tossing him. He nodded. “Did you have fun playing with grandpa and grandma?” He nodded again. “Are we ready for bed?”
As the year went on and I enjoyed my last year in high school, my son became even more mischievous and a bit adventurous. I often would walk in the house to find my son inside his toy box looking out. I would laugh at him and he’d go back to hiding. He was often times found chewing on things, it didn’t matter what the object was if it was small enough it was in his mouth. Dad and I had to be extra cautious where we left our small change and our keys. Dad even had to make sure he didn’t drop any food or utensils on the floor.
If Alice knew about what her poor teddy bear went through in the last few months I think she would freak. My son was a monster when it came to King Tut. He tortured that poor animal. Thank heavens he’s a mummy, otherwise we would have had to thrown him out a long time ago. Every time Parker would tear a hole in the stuffed bear, dad would stich him up and use the mummy wraps to hide the stitching.
Alice was hanging out more and more with Chris and his friends. She hardly came over on the weekends. Dad got pissed one day because she had promised to go fishing with him and she blew him off. He walked around heart broken. Dad and Alice loved fishing together, and I felt really bad for dad. Alice hadn’t spent the last three weekends with us, she was “too busy” as she put it.
It didn’t surprise me that she was picked up by the police later that night. I knew that she was aiming for trouble when she started to see Chris. The officer told dad that Alice was found in a drug sting with Chris and a few other guys. She wasn’t really part of the operation so they brought her home. Dad was so furious. I had never seen him so angry, and that includes the time he spanked me when I was ten. Dad immediately called mom and the two yelled at Alice for hours. I ended up having to yell at my parents for waking Parker, they were so loud.
It was two weeks before graduation and I had received multiple acceptance letters to go to college from different universities. I had to make a decision, did I stay for Parker or did I go and try to make a better life for both Parker and I. I finally sat down one morning with dad. “We need to talk.” I said. to him.
“Okay. . .”
“I’ve been thinking, what if I gave custody to you.” I allowed a tear to flow down my face. “I love Parker, and I always will. But –”
“NO! Uh uh! I’ve done the whole raising kids thing. He’s your responsibility, not mine.”
“But what about my life?” I whined. “Don’t I get a say in what I want to do?”
“You forfeited that right when you went and knocked up that girl.”
“No Travis. He’s your son, YOURS, not mine and I will be damned if I see another one of his parents walk out on him. You can work here, go to school here, I don’t care, but you are staying here!”
That night I read to Parker. It was easier to put him to bed if we read a night time story rather than watching a movie. Dad and I made sure the television was off by six and wasn’t on until Parker was visiting dream land. I looked down at Parker and he studied the pictures of Buzz Lightyear and Woody on an adventure. I knew dad was right, I couldn’t just leave him. I loved him. I just wanted more for him and me than to live in a small farming town.
I was just getting ready to put Parker down to bed when my phone rang, it was “Liberty Law School” in Bridgeport. “Hello, Mr. Rain?”
“This is him.”
“Mr. Rain, this is Mr. Thompson from Liberty Law and I just received word that there’s an opening for an internship program here for the summer. It starts in a week, and we were hoping you would like the spot?”
“Oh wow! An internship? That’s, that’s. . .” My eyes wandered to my son. He was desperately trying to stay awake. My dream was in one hand and my whole life was in the other. I wanted to scream as both were stretching me, pulling me apart. If I accepted this position, I would have to leave Parker, but if I didn’t I was trapped in Riverview forever. “That’s amazing Mr. Thompson. I would really love to, but I have to think about it. Could I call you tomorrow?”
“Don’t keep me waiting to long. You have until 7 tomorrow night to accept, otherwise I will be forced to give the position to someone else.”
“Okay. Thank you sir.” I hung up the phone and looked at Parker. My heart was tearing apart.
I placed Parker into his crib and whispered, “I love you Parker. I always will. Don’t ever forget that.” I kissed him as tears ran down my cheek. I made the decision that I know I would soon regret for the rest of my life. Parker reached out for me and tears were streaming down his cheeks. He knew. “I love you.” I said one more time before walking out the door.
I walked out the door and hailed a cab. I had a bag packed. I didn’t leave a note, nor did I say a word to dad. He was sound asleep in his bed by the time the cab arrived. I took one last look at my house. I had already completed enough credits at school, that by the time I start my internship in Bridgeport the school would be sending me my diploma. Tears rolled down my cheeks as we drove out of town. I took out the picture of Parker and I and held it close, only repeating two words, “I’m sorry.”