Swimming with Sharks

Posted: February 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Discoveries, Extended Family, Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Music, Scary Stuff | 1 Comment »

When Mark and I were first dating I bragged to him that I could play Hot Cross Buns on the recorder.

I know what you’re thinking—that I’m a ruthless sex kitten who really knows how to reel the men in!

But Mark was in a band at the time. He was the lead singer and played guitar. (He also plays piano and probably some other instruments too.) And as we got to know each other, seeing how he had all this musical know-how really underscored my own pathetic lack of it. So I thought I’d be grandiose about the limited proficiency I had. You know, make big of something very very little.

As it turned out, months after my initial allegations that I could rock it on the recorder—or at least play one of the easy-peasy first songs they teach you—we were at a party at someone’s house and they had a recorder. (Weird, right? I mean, who actually owns a recorder?)

“Okay, big guy,” Mark said, handing it to me. “Show me what you got.”

Perhaps you can guess where this is going. And if you can’t, it’s nowhere good. Tragically, I was unable to remember even the few simple notes to Hot Cross Buns.

Despite my great shame, Mark has stayed with me to this day. What a saint.

Anyway, Kate is taking piano lessons now. She’s four weeks in and can already read music, position her hands perfectly, and conjure some lovely sounds from the piano. It’s totally cool. (And no doubt, precedent setting. I now have every intention of forcing Kate and Paige to master everything I never could. Next up? Calculus!)

My excellent brother-in-law (who also happens to know his way around a guitar) was in town recently for work. His kids are Kate and Paigey’s age, and he was telling us that his son, who I’ll call Gordon, recently started piano lessons too.

“So, you got the first two classes free,” he said. You know, to test the waters. “And Gordon really was into it. But before we signed him up for more classes, the teacher gave us this big envelope.”

Guess what was in the envelope? Not just the forms to sign up for more lessons. Nope, there was another little thing in there too. A letter stating that the guy was a registered sex offender.


Now here’s where my brother-in-law was extremely cool and reasonable. He said he knows people can get the sex offender label for things like dating a 17-year-old when they’re 20. I mean, that’s sex with a minor, and sometimes even when it’s consentual and all, things happen, families get angry, blah-dee-blah, and next thing you know you’ve got yourself a permanent record.

Very big of my brother-in-law to have taken a moment to consider giving this guy the benefit of the doubt.

But no. As they continued to read the letter they learned that this dude who is sitting next to kids on a piano bench every day was NOT the fairly innocent recipient of the sex offender label. Turns out he was a pedofile.

Now, I don’t know the details of what kinda kids or how old they were or what exactly happened. And I don’t want to know. Any degree of wrongness in this area counts as deeply horrifying.

My Mama-brain was wigging out, like some record skipping saying, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” I wanted to lean over and barf at the thought of my sweet nephew coming so freaking scary close to that… to that predator.

Needless to say, my brother-in-law and sis-in-law immediately cut all ties with him.

What I want to know is, how many parents who get that “information packet” DO sign their kid up for more lessons with this guy? “Oh Jimmy’s having so much fun learning piano, and I’m sure there are NO OTHER PIANO TEACHERS IN THIS LARGE URBAN AREA. What say we roll the dice and have him hang out with this guy who may just be into raping children?”

To say this whole thing blows my mind (and makes me want to move to a deserted part of Montana, homeschool my children, and never interact with another human) is an understatement.

Nothing happened to my nephew. My sister-in-law was there the whole time he was with the guy. She’s a smart, loving, and protective Mama. So even though she didn’t know what they’d come up against during those “two free introductory lessons,” she kept her son safe.

And really, for all I know, the guy may be somehow rehabilitated.

But call me traditional, cynical, or close-minded (or all three), but I really doubt it. Maybe people can change. But c’mon. To be working with kids when that is your history? Gimme a break!

The thought of my innocent nephew and this cretin turns me werewolf-style into a ferocious, protective, mighty Mama bear. I will growl, scratch, claw, and go to any lengths to keep my cubs safe. This is the adrenaline rush of lifting a car off a baby to the hundredth power. Ain’t nothing coming between me and my babies.

When I was dating The Surfer, we unsurprisingly took a lot of beach vacations. In places where the water was warm and his home-town posse was out of sight, he sometimes deigned to show me the ropes of surfing.

And here’s the thing about surfing. For everyone who imagines that the hard part is standing up on the board, that’s totally not it. The hard part is paddling out. Trust me. Picture waves coming at you. And when you reach out your arm to paddle on the right side, the board is all topply and you almost fall off, so you have to take a quick paddle on the left to balance. Just as you think you’re getting the swing of it a huge wave comes and slaps you in the face and pushes you back towards the shore.

Oh, and I did I mention you also get wax caked on your bikini? Not fun.

But anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, we found some little cove where there were good size waves for Beginner Me. And no huge Samoan dudes laying claim to the surf. (There’s an intense home-boy territoriality about waves I’d never known about.) It was the perfect spot for a little lesson.

When we eventually came out of the water The Surfer was loading the boards on our rental car, and some local guy came up to us. “You guys shouldn’t swim here you know,” he said (though it was probably in some more dude-ish surfer vernacular). He went on to tell us that there had been a bunch of shark sightings in that cove. I guess there were some signs posted around the beach that we’d managed to not see.

No WONDER the beach was deserted! D’oh!

After hearing this I got the full-body willies. Like, as if someone dumped a handful of centipedes down my shirt. Sure, I was safe on the shore at that point, but it didn’t take away the thought that a couple sharks mighta been cruising around just feet away, lickin’ their chops at the delicious sight of us.

Hey Gordon, there are a lot of scary things and people out in the world. It’s lucky for us we’ve managed to dodge them.

Even so, what say we make a pinky pact, you and me? No more swimming with sharks.

Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetie. Your auntie loves you more than you’ll ever know.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Swimming with Sharks”

  1. 1 Tweets that mention motherload said at 1:02 pm on February 14th, 2011:

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark McClusky: I wish I wrote as well as the wife…RT @yobruno: New Blog Post: Swimming with Sharks http://bit.ly/h7dD1A

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