Last summer I went on a book tour: 60-cities-in-60-days. Each of my young adult offspring was with me for two weeks at a time. They took turns being my driver, assistant, and keeper, as in keeper of my sanity.
Well, one of my kids is my 6 foot 2 inch ADHD/Aspie WonderSon, Clark Kent, who had recently pulled off a miracle and graduated from high school, but was on a self-imposed, semi-permanent medication break. And it turned out that life on the road was very, very hard, and the closer we got to Clark’s stint, the more worried I became about how helpful his help would be. Because I needed help, a lot of help. Organized, consistent, self-initiated help to get me in and out of TV and radio interviews, speeches, and bookstores, and on to new towns each night, while somehow getting “life” done in between scheduled appearances. Not only that, but during my time with Clark, I was going to be finishing a book that was due to my editor. I needed Super-Sized help during that period.
I confessed to my husband Eric, “I am scared about Clark coming. Does it make me a bad mother that I’m not sure I want him with me on the road?”
“It only makes you a bad mother if you cancel on him. It would make you absolutely clueless if you weren’t worried. I’m worried, too. But he is a loving kid, and he’ll take good care of you, to the best of his ability.”
After a particularly trying section of the tour through Alabama where we endured our seventh straight week of rain and found ourselves in and out of repair shops where no repairs actually occurred to our many road-broken parts, I was to drop my beleaguered 25-year old stepdaughter Marie at the Memphis airport and pick up Clark Kent. Remarkably, the sun shone as soon as Clark’s plane touched down. Clark was immediately Clark-like, texting Marie that he had left her a scavenger hunt to find the car and keys at the airport in Texas, and asking me how the weather was in Las Vegas. It was our first few real smiles in days as she and I said goodbye and Clark gamboled up to the Bookmobile, our book decal-decorated 24-foot RV.
Clark hopped in with a big grin. It was impossible not to smile back. Petey the one-eyed Boston terrier, my summer-long road companion, danced happily around us.
We had high hopes for our next city, St. Louis, and it did not disappoint. The ADHD mommas represented, too, in the form of Meredith (see top picture). It was an incredible evening. Clark even signed copies of The Clark Kent Chronicles and posed for pictures, a cool half-smile on his face.
“This is how it is,” I told Clark, “The events are mostly fun like this. What do you think?”
He grunted, Clark-like. But I knew that meant he loved it.
We moseyed on. The rain continued. Our dump tanks were full, so I employed the Eric fix: one large tumbler of water in the potty, to seal the chute and prevent odors. When we arrived at our RV park somewhere in Missouri, I noticed something had spilled on the floor. I tracked through it to its source: the potty. I prayed it was only the water I had poured in, but, let’s face it, it was water out of a toilet, and I felt nauseous. I used our towels to sop it up.
I got up early to do laundry, take out the nasty trash, and dump the troublesome tanks. I let Clark sleep, figuring it was less trouble than dealing with him awake. The trash went well enough, but the laundry was closed until 10 am, long after we’d be nearly to Springfield, with our dirty towels. So I got Clark up and sent him to shower.
“I’ll meet you at the dump station,” I told him.
Clark left. He was back 5 minutes later. “I forgot my soap.”
Clark left. He was back 5 minutes later. “I forgot my shampoo.”
I was beginning to feel a bit . . . anxious. Irritable, even. I moved the Bookmobile to the dump station, chewing my lip. I sure could have used some help.
Eric had attached a new collar to our dump house, ostensibly an improvement. It leaked like a mad thing. I prayed the people in the adjacent camp site didn’t notice. I rushed to rinse it with the dump station hose, but no water came out. I tried again. Nothing. I thought about crying and didn’t have the energy. I ferried buckets of water until I had gotten the hose half clean, then stuffed it back in its place to disinfect later. Clark finally finished his ablutions and rejoined me. Ahem. Third try’s a charm, and all. At least he was clean, even if he had been too spaced out to shower, much less help.
So now I had laundry to do in Springfield in addition to the event. We made it there in time to source a laundry mat, which turned out to be in the same strip center as the book store! A positive sign. I tried to employ Clark on a few tasks but finally just sent him and Petey out for a stroll. I dropped in our loads, got quarters and cash from the bank in the parking lot, and went back to get ready.
Soon we were in the bookstore for our event, which went super. I reminded Clark it was his job to take pictures of all the greatness going on. Cool as an extra long cucumber, he reached into his pocket and pulled out . . . a ham and cheese sandwich.
Everyone stared at him for a moment and then burst out laughing. Even if I don’t have Asperger’s or ADHD, I understood his logic: you never know when you’re going to need an emergency snack on the road. He was a huge hit with everyone in the store, and I realized he was helping me after all, with laughter, mine and my readers.
I had to admit, it was mostly so far, so good with him, but we had a long 12 days left to go, and I had a 17-year history that told me things wouldn’t always go so smoothly with the WonderSon. I knew the boom was coming, I just didn’t know when. Next week: Onward to Oklahoma and Clark’s “vampires.”