Tag Archives: adult children

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.

Why 312 Months is a Difficult Age

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Why 312 Months is a Difficult Age

Parenting is a challenge. Just about the time you realize what your 12-month-old means by geya, (read a book) your 312-month-old moves out of the house.

I know what you’re thinking, “Did you count to three? Because the book says counting three will nip unwanted behavior in the bud”. I did and it didn’t.

I threatened to ground him, but he openly defied me as he packed about 500 of the 1200 t-shirts he owns, along with some guitar picks and was out the door with everything he would need to be a guy in the world.

I wasn’t too worried at first. You know what they say, he’ll get to the end of the block and change his mind and they were right, except about the changing his mind. Apparently, he got to the end of the block, went onto the next block, eventually got on the expressway and forgot the saying entirely, which is not as cute as my friend’s son’s story. He ran away from home on a tricycle dressed only in his mother’s filmy pink nightgown. This would be less cute and more creepy if the son in question was 312 months old, but, luckily, this youngster was a mere lad and therefore only raised a few eyebrows and instead of the suspicion of the neighborhood watch.

It’s going on two months since my son became room mates with two women and had to pretend to be gay so as not to raise the suspicion of their conservative and clueless landlord and that, of course, was Three’s Company. My son has become room mates with two women and two men, none of which pretend to be gay, except maybe their cat, who is suspiciously drawn to Broadway musicals.

Still this doesn’t mean hijinks and shenanigans don’t occur on a regular basis. It just means there’s no laugh track and none of the girls are dingbats or future spokespeople for the thighmaster.

The entire situation has thrown me through a loop, but I’ve always been pretty clumsy. On one hand, I want my son to live in the basement of my house and be at my beck and call when it comes to going out for breakfast or watching cat videos on youtube or just so I can mock him in person, but on the other hand…to be honest, there is no other hand. I just want him to live in my basement.

I suppose if he actually considered this his best option, I would doubt my fitness as a mother all the while we were going out to breakfast and I would, most certainly, be making fun of him for his lameness as it pertains to basements. Still, there would be the youtube sharing, but I guess that’s not enough to make life decisions by unless you want to make your mother happy and guilty at the same time, and who doesn’t?

His departure has made me question a number of things in my life. I wonder if I should have had a second child, a girl, maybe, with a sweet manner and the desire to make me happy at all costs. Then I look at the ghosts of their former selves, which are my friend with daughters, and realize that sugar and spice and everything nice business is crap, at least till the daughters move out of your house.

Still, as my friends with daughters sip their crack cocaine in the morning to prepare themselves for the eye rolling and lip curling which is female adolescence, I kind of envy them and wonder if it’s better to wish your child would hit the tricycle trail then to wish they would sit on your lap beyond the time it’s physically, psychologically, and socially a terrible idea for them to do so.

Other vital questions: Now that I’m no longer the mother of a child, does that mean I should stop signing him up for tee-ball in the spring? How many times can I tell the story of him saying “a little bite of Jesus” rather than “a taste of heaven” before the cashier at Jewel quits her job to become an inner city cop? Should I buy groceries for him to stave off scabies or let him eat globs of grease until he learns that Crisco is not a food group?

All in all, it’s part of the evolution of parenting from holding your breath in hopes that he’ll fall asleep so you can finally catch up on the four months of sleep you’ve missed since the introduction of baby monitors in your life, to holding your breath in hopes that he’s happy and safe and, to tell the truth, I still like the breath holding better than not having someone in the world that you made from scratch who may or may not cure cancer or write the next million selling record or introduce you to Chris Martin when that happens, so it’s all good, except for the fact that someone in that apartment is bound to write an wacky sitcom about his or her time living with these room mates and I’ll probably be played by Roseanne Barr as the overbearing, manipulative, nosey mother of the Jesse character, let’s call him Jorge Ponyboy, who barges into the apartment at the most inopportune times and hollers, “Don’t worry about me, I’m just a mother!” each time I arrive.

(The preceding run on sentence was brought to you by Nike.)

In real life, I have tried to control my urge to rent an apartment in the area where my son lives, mostly prompted by the order of protection he took out and I only considered calling my son Jorge Ponyboy for a brief time when he was about ten and discontinued the idea when I found out the amount of paperwork it takes to rename your 120 month old son.

Most of the time, I find better things to do than listen to this song and weep into my chocolate, and when I miss him too much, I drive the 45 minutes to his apartment and take him out to breakfast at Beatles and Bianca, (that’s an inside joke) because I’m glad he’s moving forward and enjoying his freedom and I hereby promise, if Jesse let’s me get away with this one last ode to missing him, I’ll find something else to talk about on my next blog. Maybe something new and surprising like how Chris Martin’s mom must have felt when he moved out.

What I Forgot to Tell My Son

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What I Forgot to Tell My Son

Whilst checking out at Target, I inexplicably shared with the woman ringing me up, that my son was moving out that very day. She peered at me like a small hen who had just rang up all of the ingredients for my world famous fried chicken minus the chicken and then asked if I left my son with anything.

I thought she might have meant torn towels and cracked dishes,license-plate

but she soon clarified she meant advice on how I expect him to behave.

What I should have said was I expect him to behave like he always behaves,

like an enormous galoot that trails coins, socks and guitar picks wherever he goes, but instead I told her, my son is 25 and if he hasn’t figured out what my life lessons were, it’s a little late to start now, although I still call him baby and occasionally try to pick him up, which is beside the point, but absolutely relevant when I visit the chiropractor.

She went on to discuss why teenagers can be assholes, advancing a theory which was neither relevant to our conversation or more than 10% true, but I thanked her because that’s how you get people to stop telling you things, and rolled my cart out of hearing. For all I know, she is still discussing the topic with confused replacements of me, but who can replace me, so never mind.

While driving home, I wondered what he’d say if asked about what I taught him over the time it was my chance to espouse philosophies and demand compliance. One thing’s for sure, it would be quite different than what I think I told him, so I thought I’d try to advise him one last time (kidding! I’ll never let up on him. Poor kid is an only child).

After a great deal of deep thought, here’s what I came up with.

There are seven deadly sins; sloth, envy, gluttony, anger, Curly, Larry and Doc. Try them out, pick which one you like and stick with it. My favorite is sloth, but you’ll need to figure this out for yourself.

Try not to be swarmy or smarmy.

Don’t wear white after Labor Day…or ever. I’m the one who did your laundry so, trust me on this.

Do not befriend or fall in love with anyone who can’t name The Beatles by their first and last names. Only marry someone who can tell you Paul’s first name and Ringo’s given name. The Ringo point is less important, naturally.

Try to be kind. Yes, even to the guy who argues that Yeti’s are eating his potato chips while he sleeps. There’s no need to jeer him unless your friends do and then, of course, join in.

Watch out for women who ask; Notice anything different?

Do your damn homework. Even if it’s irrelevant, like Algebra or Physics.

Even though you will always love me best, you probably shouldn’t tell women this on the first date…or the thirtieth. Maybe just keep that our little secret.

No one is better than you and you are not better than anyone else. Except for people who leave clothes on the floor is store dressing rooms and people who leave their shopping carts in handicapped parking spaces. These people are stupid and evil. Avoid them.

This is not 100% true, but people who use mustache wax are clinically insane 90% of the time. Approach them with caution.

When deciding whether or not to participate in an activity; ask yourself, will this make a hilarious story to tell my mother? If the answer is yes, do it and try to take videos. If the answer is no, move on to the next ridiculous activity you are inclined to participate in.

Never end a sentence with a preposition. (Do as I say, not as I do. Doobie doobbie doo.) Make of that what you will.

If anyone wants to fight you, seem to happy about it and they’ll wander off.

Finally, become a rock star so I can meet Paul McCartney and Chris Martin. I’m sorry but you just don’t meet enough people I want to meet as a Forensic Psychologist. (I know. I just can’t remember the title you’re aiming for.)

Wait. Don’t forget to tell me you miss me with a fiery passion, even if you haven’t given me a second thought in days.

Oh, one more. Lie.

Why a Lack of Vulgarity Can Be Amusing. (Rated PG-13) (R For My Mother)

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Because my mother was uncomfortable with the human body and its functions as I grew up, she came up with unusual names for urination and defecation, (and everything else). The urination euphemism wasn’t as bad as the defecation word, and really didn’t stick with me, otherwise the following question might have inadvertently offended me: Is it wet where you’re sitting?ifwt-grandma-surprised

That’s right, my mother called urination wetting. Therefore the above question would insinuate that I don’t have control of my bladder, which I usually do; less so since my son trounced around on the poor organ before his birth, but still, “Hey!”, might have been my answer, but I speak Normal Person now.

The bigger problem for me has been her name for a bowel movement: Something Special. Yes, you read right. My mother would ask me, upon exiting the bathroom; Did you do something special or wet?

Needless to say, but I will anyway, Delta Airline’s former slogan, spoken majestically by Oprah Winfrey at the end of every show as a thank you to the airline which transported her guests to Chicago, never failed to amuse me: “Delta Airlines, Something special in the air.”

I’m a little embarrassed to say, this still makes me laugh. Even as I typed, alone on my couch, I giggled. This isn’t a rare event, as anyone who has lived with me for any amount of time will tell you.

I amuse myself. My son recently pointed out that I am probably my best friend. I responded in the same way that I would if someone would tell me that they brought me something special, but he’s right. I silently entertain myself and laugh out loud. That’s neither here nor there, but as a trait, it really is something special. (Take that as you will.)

I have evolved or deteriorated linguistically, depending on your outlook, from my mother, who was horrified when I told her that she had been mispronouncing the word Volvo, a car company, after hearing my sister-in-law, an immigrant from China, mispronouncing the word as the anatomical name for a part of a woman’s nether regions.

“Look!” She’d announce, as we drove along. “There goes a vulva! Sue has one of those!’

That was a real head swinger the first time I heard it. She saw this where? On the expressway?

Once, I understood, of course, I laughed until I wet. See, how that sounds more lady-like?

Being perceived as lady-like is a number one priority for my mother. For me, not so much.

When she still held the reigns of my life, she sent me to charm school, hoping a magical transformation would result and I would exit, wearing lovely frocks and using euphemisms for private parts, or at least stop me from flopping down the street like David Cassidy, (her words) The experience didn’t suck as hard as it sounds.

I’m sorry. It was not as uncomfortable as I had previously anticipated.

My friend and I attended together and, as a result I learned that “shitting bricks” referred to a person’s level of unhappiness and had nothing to do with something special.

At 12 this elicited a shocked response which I muffled so as not to be detected as young and naïve. Soon after, however, I mimicked this phrase as it applied, even slightly, to every situation and that’s what I learned in Charm School. That and the fact that girls who seemed lady-like were often less so when it came to inter-personal social situations.

I’ve moved on to words that would cause my mother to have the vapors at least, if she understood what I was saying or gesturing.

For years, my mother thought giving someone the finger had an entirely different meaning from what it means on the freeways where all the vulvas are.

Once, as I was visiting her in her current home of Georgia, we were driving along and my mother marveled at how many people from her native Pennsylvania lived in the south.

I asked how she recognized Pennsylvanians and-I kid you not- she gave me the finger. I wondered what I had said to elicit this vulgarity from my mother.

Turns out, flipping people the bird was some sort of Pennsylvania thing in my mother’s mind and meant, “Hello and how do you do, Fellow Pennsylvanian!” when, as we all know, it’s more of an invitation.

All of this information may make the casual reader consider my mother’s sanity as something less than attainable for her and they would be right to an extent, but mostly my mother’s behavior stems from a complete naïvete which arose from living her first 19 years in a town which was apparently run by the Disney Corporation and her expectation that the rest of the world complied with Uncle Walt’s rules for behavior (pre-1970s or so.)

Luckily, she considers me less of a vulgar excuse for a lady and more of a curiosity, so if anyone tells her about this blog, I’d be less than pleased…if she understood the meaning of the word blogs, or online or Internet or DVR or !@#$%^!

Just let her live, happily saluting her fellow Pennsylvanians, who, seemed less likely to signal their Pennsylvania roots while I lived among them briefly, than my fellow Chicagoans, who must make up the largest population of former Quaker Staters in all of the 50 states, including Pennsylvania.

She lives in a nicer place and she’s happy there.

Why 32?

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Side mirror with warning legend

Side mirror with warning legend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The older I get, the less likely it is that I will reach my target age of 32. 32 is not only in my rear view mirror, it is dozens of mile markers back and I can’t find a turn around on this stupid highway.

Sometimes, in my dreams, someone asks my age-usually Chris Martin of Coldplay- and I answer-not even coquettishly, because the reality, in my dream is-32.

At some point however, in my dreams- which should be exempt from reality- I realize that, although I feel like I have all the earmarks of 32-a lack of gravity induced sag and a smooth glossy surface, that 32 is laughably off target and when I say laughably I mean ludicrously. (I hate that guy That was for those of you with some knowledge of rap music. We will discuss if speaking rhythmically over someone else’s music qualifies as music at a later date. Maybe when I’m nostalgically wishing I was 34.)

There are many logical and scientific reasons I can no longer be 32, but logic can be defeated by mental disturbances and science? I got a D minus and a defeated shrug from every one who ever tried to instruct me in that bastard of a subject. (In full disclosure, I received that grade in a great deal of my high school classes, not because I’m unteachable, but because I preferred not to leave my bed in the middle of the night. Admittedly, I’ve always maintained that night ends when I wake up and that tends to be more in the brunch-like area of the day, still, it was too damn early and sometimes Hard Days Night was on the morning movie. Remember that? They used to cut out so much of a movie in order to sell stuff to housewives, who had a legitimate reason to be home, that by the time it ended you sometimes came away with the idea that John Lennon was singing love songs to Madge, the manicure lady, who soaked people’s hands in dishwashing detergent. How weird was she?)

Where was I and does Guinness have an award for people who stuffed the most words into a parenthetical remark?

Oh, yeah. My son. Sort of.

My son is 24 and is coming perilously close to become 25, which as many of you know, is a quarter of a century. Now, you may be asking yourself, just how old is this lady? And the answer is 32. Shut up. I’m not fully awake, so until the dogs bark at the mailman, I’m 32.

Sometimes I wonder, but mostly I don’t because I know the answer, why 32? Why, out of all the ages, 32? How about 17 when nothing was physically impossible and I was completely clueless about what constituted a fat stomach? Meh. Seems bland to me or maybe my mind has wiped the year off of my wet board of a memory, leaving a slick white surface, which, by all accounts is dull.

Why not 23 when going out dancing 4 nights a week along with regular Jazzercise proved that stamina is the answer to weight loss, a point that would become irrelevant in my late 40s? Well, 23 had its merits, but I was forced to wear a frizzy perm and large shouldered blouses, plus my normal hearing was replaced with a ringing in my ears as a result of standing in front of amps in small bars and expecting that my hearing would not be affected. None of which seems appealing.

My forties were OK, but I spent most of the decade worrying that I would turn fifty, not considering the fact that not turning fifty was a much worse predicament.

Now, just as I suspected would happen, I’m 54. Fifty-freakin’-four! And I expect to reach 55 a day before my son turns the big 2-5.

So, why 32? I was the mother of a small person who thought the sun listened to me when I rebuked it in the car. (The visor actually did the muscle work in that situation, but I took the credit, because, as we know visors are inanimate objects.)

I was the mother of a person so small that he was portable and happy to be so.

I was the mother of a person who wore what I put on him without complaint. (Actually this is still the case as my son is happy to get free clothes as long as I do not attempt to put them on him myself.)

I was the mother of a little person who sang songs to me in the grocery cart, who told me all the things which are important to three-year-olds and attempted to slip out of his crib without disturbing me because he thought I should sleep as long as I felt the need to. I’m serious. He actually operated like that.

I was still wearing the frizzy perm, but, on the whole, all was right with the world. Except when I spent time worrying that he would outgrow this age and I’d be less than happy with the next, which goes to show that cluelessness is not limited to any certain age in my life.

Anyway, as usual, I’ve lost my point, (as Groucho Marx would say, if you wear a hat, no one will notice.)

Oh. My inner world longs for 32, while my outer world, by necessity, is dealing with 54 where I’m worried about 60 and I beginning to think Oprah is a liar what with her insistence that fifties are the best years of your life.

Or maybe she just recognizes her age and accepts it. Or maybe, just maybe, she makes millions of dollars which compound, as times goes by, making her content.

Either way, 55 is coming up on the highway of life, and once again, no turn around, although the exit is visible, as it was at every age. I’ll just drive past till I run out of gas, although I can’t guarantee to keep my eyes on the road ahead and not in my rear view mirror, where I wish there was still a car seat.