Monthly Archives: June 2015

Why My Mother Wins

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Why My Mother Wins

If you’re like me and let’s all bow our heads and pray you aren’t, your mother engrained certain behavior, preferences and prejudices into your supple, young psyche—two adjectives which describe nothing about me at this point in time.

I’m not talking about manners as your family saw them, because, aside from please and thank you and stop hitting your brother even though he started it, most manners are created by societal guy named Norm.

Family dynamics rule the day when it comes to customs and regulations in every household. My mother, for instance, considered using the word “Pop” the Midwestern term for soft drinks, instead of the vastly superior term “soda” to be déclassé and forbade us to use the noxious term. My mother had grown up in Pennsylvania where the term soda is the preference. The trouble is, we grew up in Chicago where I the word pop on the streets.

I went along with my mother because, when we’re living in a closed environment, we figure our parents know what’s up, given the amount of time they’ve spent on earth compared to you, as a child who sprung from the parental loins.  Yes, I found that term slightly nauseating as well and will forbid my son to use it in the future.

When we’re about 12, we realize parental superiority is nonsense and that we, at 12 measly years-old, know everything important that needs to be known and consider our former concept of normal to be —how to be diplomatic?—A steaming ball of crazy, a conception which usually vaporizes at about 21-years-old, but, in my case, is right on.

For instance, my mother and her mother called green peppers mangos throughout my childhood.  I don’t remember when I realized this was wrong, probably when I learned to read the sign over the peppers at Jewel which clearly stated “Not Mangoes”.

But, I digress and return to my original premise which is; my mother is more peculiar than your mother and I can prove it.

When I was a child and my mother monitored my bathroom habits, she felt the need to create words other than poo-poo or pee-pee, et.Al. for feces and urine because, in her eyes, what our body considered waste, my mother considered rude to talk about, even during potty training, which, in the real world, necessitates discussion when you’re two.  (I probably didn’t need all those commas, but I have nowhere else to put them, so I’ll just leave them there for now.)

So, the words my mother created, much like mangos for green peppers, had a definition outside of the context used by the majority of society.  (Did you get my societal norm joke yet?) When I came out of the bathroom, my mother asked me if I had wet or done something special.

I know what you’re thinking, talk about creating a sense of accomplishment far beyond what is necessary, did she also keep little trophies in the cabinets which were bestowed upon you for breathing and sleeping?

Nope. My mother was neither touchy nor feely. My mother was and is a no nonsense woman, unless you call referring to green peppers as mangos nonsensical, and why wouldn’t you?

Still, while I was young and impressionable the phrase “something special” meant what the rest of the world called poop, nonsensical or not

So what? I’ll tell you so what. Some time ago, a major religious figure died in Chicago. I am not a practitioner of his faith, but this is Chicago, so Catholic news leads, even ahead of cat videos.

I was half watching and half updating my Facebook page in a way that would make me appear more normal than I am, when I fell into peels of laughter, proving my quest for the norm was unsuccessful.  Why? A priest was discussing his last conversation with the soon-to-be-late religious figure just before the fellow, who usually wore a decorative hat, found out if God is what he expected or is, instead an angry woman with a celestial rolling pin.

At that dramatic point in time, according to the non-hat-wearing religious figure, the dying leader requested that the aforementioned priest, do something special for him.  Get it?  It was hilarious!

I laughed so hard that crossing my legs became a necessity and my husband demanded an explanation which consisted of him glancing at me, raising his eyebrows and going back to what he was doing because me amusing myself is not an unusual occurrence in his life, and my explanations never seem to justify my level of my mirth…to him.  My son gets the same treatment.  We’ve contacted Amnesty International and we thought they’d be more sympathetic as they laughed as well, but nothing has come of it.

I live in fear of sitting through a eulogy where the speaker makes a comment such as “Hubert brought a little something special into every home he visited.”  I’ve also shamed myself when servers have told me they have something special on the menu.  Even Oprah would send me into peels of laughter when she announced the show was sponsored by a certain airline whose slogan was, “Something special in the air,”.  That probably should be Dave Matthews slogan as well.

Now, I’m making a pretty big assumption when it comes to family weirdness and I’d love to hear your stories as well, I’m sure you all have something special to share or maybe you don’t. Maybe your family is the one and only normal family in the land.  In any case, until you are further notified, my mother wins.

Having said all of this, I want to apologize for the included sentiment at the top of the page.  It is an example of why my life is more difficult than yours and not representative of feelings about you, my valued readers, or reader, as is often the case..  You’re not something special. You’re welcome.

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