Friday, July 14, 2006


Once again, they began by showing us a trailer. A double-wide with a nice view of the lake. We weren't so taken aback this time, mostly because it was for such a short period of time. However, some friends pointed out that it was right across the street from a bar and not a good place for kids. We passed on it and looked at a house that the agent showed us . We took it because we really did not have any choice, provided they would build a wheelchair ramp.

First, soon after we moved in the booking agent got fired. Because we didn't get it in writing, they billed us for the wheelchair ramp. Then it turned out the house was listed for sale. People would knock on the door at all hours wanting a tour. We complained, and the landlord agreed to give us a day's notice each time. Great. Then the water stopped Working. We asked for a rent abatement. They laughed and said it was a city problem; that if we didn't pay rent we could leave. We were in no position to argue; we had no place to go and Jane didn't have time to fight it; she was trying to take care of me and the kids. We didn't know any lawyers. Luckily it was only a few weeks. Suffice it to say housing in Montana was a nightmare; we had to move seven times in two years.

Before we moved this time, though, we visited California for Nick's eighth grade graduation. This was no trivial undertaking. It meant driving 24 hours one way, and then finding a place to stay. This was a tall order for Jane, who nonetheless was determined to try. Steven was able to do some of the driving, but he was only fifteen. We got the TV, DVD and VCR working and headed out. Jane held up very well, all things considered. A friend let us stay at her place, which worked out great. For me the trip was bittersweet; seeing everyone was great, but I knew it would be over soon and we would have to go back. They did recognize me at the graduation, which was nice. The time flew, and soon we were saying goodbye and getting ready to go back again, where we had to move into a new house.

If this wasn't enough, it was about this time that our teenage boys decided to act like, well, teenage boys. I'm sure anyone who has raised teenage boys can relate. The driving age in Montana is fifteen. Although we weren't sure that was a good idea, we needed the help. Our policy is to pay half of their first car, and then they are on their own. We helped Steven get a nice little used Toyota pick-up. At first he was fine. Then he decided to pretend it was four wheel drive and pretty much trashed it going off-road. One night he called to say he had rolled it going around a corner. He was not hurt. When we saw it, we were aghast - it was a total loss. He assured us it wasn't that bad-until they finished it off with sledgehammers for fun. That night, both boys went to bed early. We were woken up at about three by a phone call from the police. They had two boys who looked like brothers; could we come <45 minutes away > and get them? At first Jane was puzzled. Then she realized the boys had snuck out of the window and taken the truck to a drive-in. It still ran . The police pulled them over for not having any taillights and ended up impounding the vehicle. Luckily they weren't doing anything else stupid like drinking or speeding. They didn't even get a ticket; the police said they just couldn't drive their truck on the road. When Jane got to the station, an officer met her at the door saying, "Your son is a genius! You should hear how he is going to make it into a convertible! " That was, well, the wrong thing to tell Jane. By the time she was through with him the cop could have walked out under the door. We attributed the boy's actions that night to a malady known to afflict teenage boys; "SAS," or "Sudden Acute Stupidity." The next day we had the truck taken to a junkyard in order to prevent any more outbreaks.

One good thing that came out of this was that Jane learned a new parenting trick. She discovered that the boys liked to sneak out of the window to do things we would not have allowed. She began doing frequent bed checks, and when she found an empty bed she would climb in and go to sleep. In this way the returning boy, who doubtless thought he had pulled one over on us, arrived to a very unpleasant welcome. It helped slow them down.

One neat thing we did back in Montana was go fishing. They had a fishing derby for the handicapped, and we entered. Seeing all of those other people made me realize how lucky I had it; but it also made me realize how much I had lost, so it was hard to appreciate it. Anyway, we hooked a fifteen pounder, but he got away. After we got back, the local TV station interviewed us, which was fun. When they asked Jane a question, Mikala, then all of ten years old, swept Jane aside and said, "Mom, I'll handle this," and took over the interview. We watched the news that night, and sure enough, there she was.

We also had fun on the Fourth of July. Some really nice neighbors invited us over, and the boys did their best to burn down their beautiful new house with armloads of fireworks. They almost succeeded. After the Fourth, we stopped by a fireworks stand that was closing up, and they gave us many leftovers. I don't know what we were thinking. There's something about the words " Free stuff " that brings out the irrational side of everyone. In any event, we were ready to party. We ended up throwing most of them away.

One night the boys were shooting off fireworks with some friends < legally >, when they decided to climb a mud cliff for more elevation. They assumed it was part of the public land behind our house. Wrong. It turned out to belong to some nut who chased the boys home with a shotgun. One of them slipped running down the hill and impaled his buttocks on a tree branch which broke off inside him. Luckily his Mom was a nurse and patched him up. We learned two things: the neighbor was a certified nut and was good friends with our landlord, who was not nuts, but heartless even though his son was in a wheelchair. It portended things to come. . .


Blogger valfrid said...

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9:06 PM  
Anonymous Serge said...

Boys sure do crazy things and while I felt bad for the Toyota (and your pockets as well), I hope these boys learn from this experience especially that experience when they drove around under the influence of the "SAS" syndrome.

7:18 PM  

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