As you may know, we are in Austin for SXSW, which basically means that I curse the Austin highway engineers for a week, furiously writing complaints and threatening to “come down there” if they don’t fix their infrastructure. (Would it kill them to put up a sign every now and again referencing which highway is which? Apparently, it would. It would actually kill them.)
Since we aren’t made of money, we only rent one car when we are in Austin. However, we do it up right, and rent the best vehicle money can buy. Or in this case, the best non-piece of crap vehicle we can rent that won’t automatically kill us in a small fender bender. I know, the Newlins have high standards.
Check out this baby. She’s our rental for the week. Try not to drool all over the cloth seats and key-ignition. Please also steer clear of drooling on the windshield. I learned the hard way this week that the windshield doesn’t have a sensor and the wipers aren’t automatic. I’m not sure how people live like that, but it isn’t a fun time. Don’t worry. I made Matt pull the level for the windshield wipers whenever I needed them. I seriously made him do this. Every. Single. Time.
Since we only have one sweet ride, and I don’t want to be at SXSW every second of every day, I drop him off first thing in the morning and pick him up at the end of each day (around midnight). Before I send him off each morning, I make sure he has all the essentials…or at least I try to.
The first morning we began this ritual, we walked outside to my sweet mom-mobile and he commented on how chilly the weather was. I pointed out that it was 40 fricking degrees and was forecasted to only reach the low 60s that day, so he should consider a change of clothes. He rolled his eyes and told me he would be fine. I swear he said “Aw, shucks” under his breath, but I can’t be sure.
As I drove him to SXSW, I tried to make conversation with him, making sure he had the apple I packed for him for a snack. (He did, only because I put it there.) I instructed him to eat that as an early afternoon snack to avoid being hungry later. We didn’t want him ruining his dinner. He agreed to eat the apple as prescribed.
I also reminded him he needed a coat, and tried to give him the one I brought in the car, but he declined. I suspect it’s because he didn’t want the cool kids to know I packed it. I get it. He was going for independence and I had to let him. He needed to spread his wings…his wings that weren’t protected by a coat, but his wings nonetheless.
The first day I dropped him off I resisted the urge to kiss him before he left. I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of the other film critics, so I casually said goodbye and told him to have a good day. I watched him walk away, thinking about how far he’d come. He was getting to be such a big shot with his press pass and all.
I headed back to the condo in the frigid cold and got back in bed for a bit to warm up. About 2 hours later my phone rang. It was Matt calling from school the convention. He said it was cold and he really wanted a change of clothes. (I strongly resisted the urge to say “If only someone had told you to bring a change of clothes.” He didn’t need to hear “I told you so” while he was freezing to death. I would make sure to tell him that later.)
He politely asked if I could come get him since he was cold. After asking him what the magic word was, I told him I would be there to come pick him up from school the convention.
Although I had plans to get things done that day, I was secretly delighted to go pick him up. It meant he needed me, and I was okay with that. After all, there would come a time where he wouldn’t need me anymore, and I didn’t want to think of that day. (That day will be Thursday, when we return home and return to our separate vehicles.) Until then, I decided to bask in the glow of knowing I was needed, and knowing I was right.
I’m always right.
After taking him back to change clothes, I returned him to the convention and we agreed upon a specific time and location for pick up. I reminded him not to talk to strangers, and not to give anyone on the street money. It’s Austin and you can’t tell if they are truly homeless, or just hipsters. We do NOT give money to hipsters (except when we buy anything made by Apple). I made him repeat that back to me to ensure it sunk in.
Later that night, I picked him up at the agreed upon location and he was exhausted. He said he’d had a long day and it definitely showed. I asked him if he made any movie critic friends and he didn’t really say much. At least he didn’t eat lunch alone in the cafeteria. (He went to a sushi place and read a book.)
I knew what would make him feel better after a long day because it’s what makes everyone between the ages of 2-10 happy; Mc Donald’s. I drove to the drive thru and watched his face light up as he realized he was getting a special treat. It was nice to see him smile.
As I drove away, watching him bask in the joy of his new happy meal toy, I realized that I don’t need to have kids. I’ve got my own kid to take care of, and I’m just fine with that. I’ll take Matt Newlin over a child of my own any day. He’s easier to manipulate and at least he’s potty trained.