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Family Forever

Celebrating her birthday with family aboard a Duffy in Newport Harbor, the SongMom gets an unexpected surprise gift.

“This is gonna be the worst day of my life,” said the Jingle, as he passed me on his way to the bathroom.  I figured it was his teenage, under-developed frontal lobe talking again, so I chose to ignore both of them. 

Failing to get a reaction from me, he stomped out, grouchy.  Oliver the cat sat on the bathroom counter and narrowed his golden eyes. 

"What a thoroughly unpleasant man-child," he said to me. "If I were 6 feet tall, I would eat him; instead I will just pee on his bed as soon as you leave."  He yawned, stretched and jumped down.

I looked at the tired, middle-aged woman in the mirror. "Botox!" I said, pointing at her. As soon as he turns 18, we are gonna go see the doc and wipe all that teenage drama off your face!” 

She looked back at me and smiled weakly.  I think she knew that it would take more than Botox to wipe years of worry off my face.  It would take a sand belt, a sharp knife and probably a stick of dynamite.

A Facebook faux paux

We began our journey down to Newport Beach in the car, a picnic basket stocked with chicken, potato salad, black-cherry Shastas for the kids and mai tais for the adults. 

We were nearly there when Jingle piped in. “Hey, Mom, tell Grandma B she needs to accept my friend request on Facebook.”  I immediately texted Grandma B, thinking to myself, ”Wow, he is finally opening up to family … online … this is a good sign!”

Arriving in the harbor, we took our basket of goodies and boarded an adorable powder-blue Duffy with leather interior, a glass-mirrored bar and cozy pillows. The sun was shining as I pulled off my straw cowboy hat, ran my fingers through my recently cropped, now blonde locks and leaned back, enjoying the view and the sound of my children talking excitedly between each other—not arguing, for a change.  It was perfect.

“OMG! OMG!" Jingle suddenly said, sitting up right in a panic, his face turning bright red.

“What’s wrong?” I asked him, noticing he was checking something on his cell phone.

“I just wanna jump overboard and sink straight to the bottom," he replied, with great melodrama, putting his head in his hands and closing his eyes in agony. “Grandma B just accepted my friend request and made a comment.” 

His feet curled up, and he twisted his hands nervously.

My immediate thought was that he had said something inappropriate on Facebook and Grandma B called him on it.

“What did you say on Facebook?” I asked him, popping a slice of salami in my mouth.

Without answering me, he moved quickly across the boat to his father and showed him the Facebook post.  Mr. Stark laughed and said nothing. 

“What’s going on?” I asked again.  Both of them said nothing and chose to leave me hanging.

“Do you need me to text Grandma B?  Do some damage control?”  I asked Jingle.

NO!” they both cried out.

“I am sooooo deleting this entire post.” Jingle declared, his fingers working furiously on the cell phone keypad.

The Big Reveal

Two hours later, nearing our dock where we needed to drop the boat off, we were entertained by a present-day George Jetson, using the power of water forced through a tube at high speed.  He was able to float 10 feet up and across the water, leaving plumes of white water in his wake. 

“That is going to the top of my bucket list!”  I told the kids as we watched him fly across the blue water, all of us mesmerized.

We docked our boat and exited to the landing, sitting down at a large table where we were joined by several other couples also reluctant to leave.

Suddenly Mr. Stark and Jingle looked at each other.

 “OK, this has been going on long enough!” Will someone please tell me what is going on?”  I yelled.

The other couples, sensing some excitement, stopped chatting and listened.

"Excuse me,” Mr. Stark asked the dock attendant as he passed by.  “Can you find me a large boat paddle so I can hit my son over the head with it before I pass it to his mother?"

 The dock attendant laughed.  I crossed my hands in front of my chest and looked hard at Mr. Stark. 

 “I found something very interesting this morning when I went to wake up the Jingle for your birthday boat ride,” Mr. Stark finally said, looking very impressed with himself. "Then Jingle posted it on Facebook, then Grandma B saw it because Jingle put it on Facebook," he went on to explain.

 “You wanna show her what ya got, Jingle?” he said, turning to the Jingle with a smile.

 Within a moment, it became quite clear what had happened.  My face turned white and I stood up in anger, waving my finger.  “A tattoo. Don't even tell me you got a tattoo!”  You were right this morning when you said this is gonna be the worst day of your life, 'cause it might just be the last day of your life!!!", I hollared, furious.

 Suddenly he lifted up his shirt.

 There, on the right side of his chest, written in elegant black letters was a single word: Family

“Oh, Jingle!” I cried as I hugged him, tears rolling down my face. 

 I was caught within a pyramid of weird emotions:  The unconditional love that only a mother has for her child, no matter what happens; pride that the word "family" should be the tattoo he wanted and that maybe he didn’t hate me after all; and sadness that the body I spent nine months on, within my own body, and another 17 years of worry over, was now forever marked.

 The other women on the dock all rushed forward to comfort me. 

“I don’t even know you, but I am a mom, too, and I think you need a hug!”  a tall brunette with dark sunglasses said as she wiped her own tears away. 

 “At least it doesn’t say, 'I hate Mom,' quipped her husband with a smile as he shook hands with Mr. Stark.  Everyone laughed.

 "Happy birthday, Mom!” the Jingle said, hugging me again.  “I love you forever.”

Tammy July 28, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Brought tears to my eyes girl... =0)
Julie Flores July 28, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Loved it.
Laura July 28, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Very sweet. What is it with kids these days and their tatoos? At least he got it in an area that can be covered up with clothing. Look on the bright side, it could have been a tatoo of his girlfriend's name!
Casey Stark July 28, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Yes and it could also have said "I'm the only hell my mama raised", which just might be a new song I might write! LOL Thanks for reading and commenting! :)
Connie B. July 28, 2011 at 11:21 PM
Viva La Familigia! You made me laugh, you made me cry....Happy Birthday friend! God grace you with abundant blessings always! xxoo
Casey Stark July 29, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Thank you Connie! It was quite the birthday surprise - I surely do hope its not a re-occuring theme though! You know teenagers!
Casey Stark July 29, 2011 at 12:37 AM
From Christine Roberts: "Loved it, once again your story has me laughing and crying within minutes. What a sneaky devil...I get the feeling your Jingle tried to soften you over wish his first "mom-friendly" tatt! I heard from a friend that tatoos are very expensive to remove, so what are you going to do?"
Casey Stark July 29, 2011 at 01:37 AM
You nailed it Christine. I am really torn about it. I have to be honest and say I don't know what to do. He has had the tattoo for 5 weeks and kept it hidden from me. We had a deal that there would be no tattoos until the kids graduate college and are self-sufficient. I can only imagine what Dr. Laura would say!
Casey Stark July 29, 2011 at 05:28 AM
btw Laguna Niguel Patch readers..the Jingle wanted to make sure I added he got the tattoo in the most painful spot on a human body to GET a tattoo, underneath the arm on your torso. Any tattoo experts out there to confirm this? We would love to hear from you!
KC July 29, 2011 at 05:41 AM
You mean the part of your upper arm that meets your body right below the armpit? Yes, that is one of the most painful parts that people get tattooed, next time you see a person with a tribal armband, see if it goes all the way around. Though I am a nervous system exp. not a tat expert, much more useful.
Casey Stark July 29, 2011 at 06:05 AM
Interesting KC...I will check that out. His was actually on the torso, right below his armpit about five inches down.. He said it took an hour and was excruciating.
KC July 29, 2011 at 07:15 AM
The most painful part is on the arm not the torso, torso is less painful than that.
Casey Stark July 29, 2011 at 05:23 PM
I am not sure if knowing that will make Jingle more inclined to try to tattoo a NEW part of his body next! He always has been the kind of kid who loves a challenge. Especially locked doors, diapers and grocery cart restraints! We used to call him Baby Houdini because he could get out of anything! LOL
collin July 29, 2011 at 06:39 PM
ribs is forsure one of the most painful places to get a tattoo.. infact its listed in the top 10 most painful places to get a tattoo, right below lip and spine tattoos, and over arm bicep wrap tattoos are in the top 10 least painful places to get a tattoo at number 5. when you get it on your ribs it goes across multiple nearly unprotected bones, and when u breathe and your rib cage expands it stretches the skin and you can practically feel the needle bouncing off your bones.
mb July 29, 2011 at 07:13 PM
I always look forward to your stories. They always make me laugh, sometimes cry. The teenage years are definitly trying times, but they do grow up. Never thought he would get a tattoo!
Casey Stark July 29, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Thanks MB! As I told a friend this morning, the fact that I used to hide my sharpie pens when he was a baby should have warned me a tattoo was in the future! I am scared this is just the beginning...."Lions, tigers and bears! OH My!" LOL
collin July 29, 2011 at 08:46 PM
rib tats hurt the most, anybody who says otherwise doesnt have one
Sheila A. July 29, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Gotta love it! Tattoo or no tattoo {PAIN} he is showing his love for you and the family. hehe Just think of the look on his face as he was getting it and that should make you giggle lol. Thanks for sharing yet another amazing tale of the Stark household, it always makes me smile.
Shelly F. July 30, 2011 at 04:59 AM
Oh my gosh! That is awesome! This is great to hear and warms my heart. Jingle obviously loves his family. He must have great parents :) Thanks for sharing!
Casey Stark August 01, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Whoa whoa whoa Shelly F.! Stop the train right there - I would agree with one of the other commenters, this was definately a MAN-ipulative MAN-ouver to try and warm me over with his FIRST tattoo. And before anyone sends in the parental canonization application please make sure you read my disclaimer! The part where it says "I think I blew it when...." LOL
Casey Stark August 01, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Hey Sheila - I am just envisioning the look on his face when it gets removed! Who wants to start a "Remove the Jingle Tattoo" fund! LOL ;-)
eddie August 02, 2011 at 05:16 AM
Omg, great story. I truly don't know how you manage that jingle.
eddie August 02, 2011 at 05:19 AM
Forgot to add, can't wait to read the next story, such an entertaining break from the speed that life travels these days. You go girl!
Casey Stark August 02, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Hi Eddie - trying to manage the Jingle is like trying to manage a tornado; from a distance its amazing to watch, but up close its a force to be reckoned with. I think the ladies at the taco stand were right when they said I was eating way too much hot sauce during my pregnancy! Might explain a lot...Thanks for reading and I promise to keep you entertained in the next story! :)
Yvonne Watt August 02, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Hey honey! Great read as ever! Hate to tell you but they are addictive. Now, I didn't trouble my parents with them when I was a teenager....I waited 'till I was 32 to get my first....and i now have seven (if you count my perm eyeliner which was tattoo'd on aswell!). My parents just shake their head in despair.....and I think I may stop now! Ps. The soles of your feet are the most painful place I believe. Your boys would have nipped a bit but there are plenty spots which would make him sweat more!! X
Casey Stark August 02, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Thanks Collin - sounds like you did your research. Another commenter said that getting a tattoo on the foot was actually more painful. Thoughts?
Casey Stark August 02, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Hi Yvonne...smart girl...my sister-in-law waited, as well, to get tattoos (she loves disney characters). I admit, I briefly considered getting a butterfly tattoo a few years back! But having a young daughter (Buggy) I had to reconsider...Maybe it will be one of those crazy things I do mid-life, right after I buy my "Run-Away Mama Condo"!
Sherilynn Grayson August 29, 2011 at 01:50 AM
My daughter came home on her 18th birthday with a lovely tramp stamp for her big birthday - thanks to my ex who thought it would be cool to be the fun dad. She now has five. Good luck...your son stops with the one tatoo.
Casey Stark August 30, 2011 at 03:21 AM
Ummmm...Sherilynn you are psychic. As it turns out, we discovered just last week....this was his SECOND tattoo. Yippeeskoodledoo! As for the big reveal on that one...ya'll are just gonna have to wait for that story. I promise its gonna be good!
Casey Stark September 11, 2012 at 05:03 AM
3 and counting now.

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