Tag Archives: children

Why Baby Boomers Are Lucky (to be alive.)

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When I was a kid, my father whipped me with a cat-o-nine-tails outside of my house if I even looked sideways at him. (I’m not sure why sideways was an issue for him and I certainly wasn’t going to ask).  I walked to school with paper bags on my feet, which may seem less than helpful, but it happened when I was a kid so it was character building.  My parents would play bowling

strict-1950swith kids by setting up pins in the back of a station wagon, and then making quick lane changes on the Eisenhower Expressway and we didn’t die. I disappeared first thing in the morning and didn’t return again until long after all the cops had gone to bed and my mom never even noticed I was gone unless I left uneaten liver on my plate and then it was back to the cat-o-nine-tails.  I thank God for them everyday because it made me the parent fearing, paper bag wearing, bruise displaying, former missing child I am today.

We’ll be back in a minute with our program: Why the Boomer Generation is Lucky to Have a Single Representative Left Alive after this message from Sugar Drops!  Candy Coated Sugar!  It’s what for breakfast!

Those were the days, weren’t they? We faced danger straight in the face and continued to not die.  We were lucky and brave and unaware of what was lurking in the various bushes and all station wagons.

Nowadays, (I guess that’s a word because spell check ignored me), kids are wimps, seat belt and helmet wearing wimps, brought up by simpering parents (our kids and grandkids) who don’t appreciate the lessons we strived to teach them; primarily, making it out alive is good enough for us and should be good enough for the little buggers we produce.

Every kid who runs into trouble does so because his or her parents didn’t take a good swing at them from time to time.  I’m guessing those ISIS characters (and by characters I mean M!!@#  Fu!@#$  A!@#s who should die in a pit of their own mucus) were raised by a bunch of Spock reading ninnies who gave them “a time out” rather than beat them, but I can’t vouch for this as I was raised by a pair of people who harbored within themselves a mix of every European identity and thought reasoning with kids was the devil’s therapy session.

We lived on the South side of Chicago, where all of the European mixes of the day congregated and apparently held meetings on how to deal with youngsters who misbehaved or behaved in developmentally appropriate ways, because most every kid in our neighborhood was very familiar with the dreaded bouncey ball paddle sans bouncey ball.

And I don’t mean to imply or say outright that I felt I was in danger throughout my childhood because, unless I walked between my father and the White Sox on TV, I was either pretty safe or completely unaware of the abundance of hidden dangers.

I rarely did anything apart from my parents that I wouldn’t do in front of them except riding my bike along break neck paths in the nearby woods, dating boys (men) who were far too old for me, trying and casting aside cigarettes, being myself, and watching TV with my friends by way of the kitchen phone.

How’s that life threatening you may ask?  Well, the phone was attached to a cord and could have been a deathtrap if someone had tripped over it as I watched Cat Stevens on Midnight Special in the den, with a phone that began its life in the kitchen. But I was willing to do that, because I was wild.

I was also the youngest and the only girl in my family and my parents either found this adorable or terrifying because I was never spanked despite my transgressions.

My brothers, however, behaved as if they were members of the Hell’s Angels and that was in the first grade, from that point on, my brothers made the Hell’s Angels look like Pat Boone’s family reunion (remember him?  Doesn’t he seem creepy to you now?).  They were spanked plenty and this seemed to encourage them, so who knows?

I spanked my only child three times, and by spanked, I mean swatted the piles of padding on the back of his butt.  I’m pretty sure that’s why he doesn’t remember it.  I spanked him once because he ran out in the street, another time because he chased a squirrel after I explicitly said these words, three times, “Don’t chase the squirrel” and the third time because he ran out in the street while chasing a squirrel.

At some point, I asked myself why hitting the person I loved most in the world seemed to be a good idea when, as a preschool teacher, I controlled an entire classroom full of kids by giving them my patented “I don’t think so,” look.  And it worked.  Still does. There’s something about my face that makes small children freeze in their tracks and comply and don’t think that hasn’t come in handy at restaurants.

So, I gave up making myself feel bad by swatting him with such a light touch that he didn’t feel it and, as a result he has never listened to my directives a day in his life.

I’m exaggerating and embellishing for comic effect, of course. My son grew up without incident and went to college where he began to misbehave by completely ignoring my specific directions that he become a rock star rather than study psychology. And yes, I’m probably the initial reason for his choice of majors.

Studying is not his only focus, however. He also teaches music to ruffians-in-the-making at School of Rock.  (Yes, there is a real School of Rock and no, Jack Black doesn’t teach there,)

He has hobbies too! Like worrying that I’m disappointed in him because he didn’t become a rock star which is balderdash, if balderdash means kind of true. (Not really, Jesse. Find another hobby…like rock stardom!)

Yet, if I met him at Starbucks today and we struck up a conversation I would try to figure out a way to make him my BFF, whatever that means, because, if you leave out the rock star part, and I don’t, he’s turned into the kind of adult I could like very much, because loving him might seem creepy given the age difference between him and me, although I think his devilish good looks might make it understandable.

And not to toot my own horn (and as David Letterman says, “I would if I could”), I think he’ll probably raise my future grandchildren in a similar way so, I’ll probably like them too.  If not, I’ll just give them the face.

All of which goes to show, I molly-coddled him and, as a result, he defied me in the most important ways. No rock stardom for him!  He could hit his unprotected head on a microphone stand or not wear a seatbelt in the back of a limousine, causing him to fall across the laps of girls of disrepute and who knows (or wants to know) what could have happened.

So, new parents, feed your kids too much sugar and surprise them with a spanking now and then, followed by the words my dear old dad used to say, “That was for nothing. Think how bad it will be if you do something.”

Those were the days.  Thank goodness they’re over.

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Why My Son Uses Frowned Upon Language

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Why My Son Uses Frowned Upon Language

 

When my son was about two, he sat in my Pastor’s house, happily building with blocks in the middle of the living room floor. My husband and I were friends with the pastor and his wife Lori, because she said we had to be.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, it was just, growing up Catholic, it never occurred to me that you could be friends with your minister, let alone his wife, which would be a whole other kettle of fish. Turned out, the Pastor’s wife was, and is my kind of gal, but that’s not why you called.

Anyway, there was my cherubic son, wearing his OshKosh B’Gosh overalls and looking for all the world like the sweetest human being God ever put on the planet. OK, that’s probably just me, but I’m right.

As he built whatever he thought he was building, (he was darling but architecture wasn’t his strong point,” it all tumbled to the floor.

That's right, baby, D is for @#$%^!

That’s right, baby, D is for @#$%^!

He let loose with a dammit preceded by the name of the deity who should do so and then went back to his work. Silence ensued.

 

When I managed to raise my eyes to the pastor, he cocked an eyebrow. “Cable TV?” I offered feebly, knowing full well who was responsible; my husband and his potty mouth.

OK. That’s not quite true. Actually, of we’re going to be technical, it’s an out right lie. It was Lori.

Actually, as I’m sure anyone who knows me or any idiot off of the street, (I’m choosing not make a joke at the expense of those who know me and, those of you who do, know what a strain that is for me,) will assume without making an ass of either one of us, that my son’s unfortunate slip was simply an echo of what he’d heard while, as is the case with most mothers and children,
we were making cookies together using cookie cutters which would not release the dough.

I instantly regretted my words and vowed to watch my language. I didn’t, but I made that vow so that should count for something.

After another out-of-character tirade (for a two-year-old and not so much for a seasoned sailor,) spewed from the back seat of my car, aimed at a slow driving person in front of us, I realized I had to clean up my language and this time it stuck, unless I became unglued. (See what I did there?)

One exception is notable however and this isn’t really my fault. When my son was about seven, I was trying, unsuccessfully to change to bulbs in our ceiling fan/light fixture. Time after time, I attempted to screw the bulb in, which was nearly out of my reach, but not so much so that I easily gave up.

Finally, I thought I’d done it and, as I was crawling off of the official tool for screwing in light bulbs, my kitchen chair, the bulb and the surrounding fixture fell to the floor with an impressive crash.

I said something along the order of @#$%^&&^%$#$%^&*(*&^%$#$%^&*! And your mother too! You *&^%$%^&!

Almost immediately I remembered my son, quietly watching shows with little, to no profanity, in the next room and I went in to apologize. He was sitting on the edge of the recliner, his large eyes nearly double in size, causing him look a bit like animé and not in a particularly bad way, depending on your level of dorkiness.

I profusely apologized and explained it was very wrong for me to wish the maker of my ceiling fan a painful experience in his private regions.

“That’s ok, Mommy,” he said. “I didn’t even know those words could go together.”

So we both learned a valuable lesson that day.

Some time later, I was rewarded with a feeling of maternal progress when my son approached me and announced, “I know what the F word is!”

I sighed and explained that knowing it is ok, but saying it was not nice. He nodded and promised not to say it, but I could tell he was desperate to say it and who wouldn’t be? So, I gave him permission to tell me, just this once.

He could hardly contain his pride as he announced the word. “Shut up,” he said.

“That’s right!” I said, relief and amusement washing over me.

Later that week, while on the phone with a casual friend I recounted the story and, because amusement goeth before a fall, I gave the phone to my son and told him to tell my friend what the F word is.

He took the phone in his hands and said, “Fuck.”

My friend was very angry and didn’t see what was so funny about encouraging my young son to use filthy language. She is no longer my friend, not precisely because of that, but because when I told my real friends, including the soon to be ex-wife of my former pastor they belly laughed and that’s what you want in a friend.

Eventually, I reverted to my less than pristine language mostly because I believe words are words and some of them shouldn’t be set aside because someone (probably someone’s mother whilst burning her hand as she lit the castle’s candles) said they were bad.

My son is now 25 and I’d like to say he has learned to control his use of the F word, (which by the way, in case anyone is  still wondering, does not mean shut up), but this is not the case. In fact he sometimes uses that very phrase I used while destroying my ceiling fan and, rather unkindly points out that I have no one to blame but myself, which is true , but still not the kind of thing a mother wants to see written across her Mother’s Day cake.

Because I’m a time-and-place kind of potty mouth there are times I regret my behavior and, as an old person, I feel compelled to give advice to the young, not so much so they won’t traverse the same rocky road as I, but because, after I give them this unwanted advice and they head off into the sunset using the very road I warned them against, I can say, I told you so.

So, always remember, (here’s where young people hear the sound of the adults in the Peanuts cartoons so I could say just about anything, but still…) Do not watch cable TV (this was a type of entertainment which existed before satellites and the Internet) with your impressionable children and, what ever you do, don’t change light bulbs until they’re asleep.

Oh, and take your pastor’s wife out to lunch and ask her if she knows what the F word is.

Why my 55th Isn’t About Senior Discounts

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Depending on how long it takes me to complete this missive, I will either be 55 in a few days

55.

55. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

or last week. Unlike most people, who get sick and then after a few days, recover, I feel the need to prolong the process to wring every bit of attention out of looking and feeling like hell with the added bonus that I don’t have to work or cook dinner. So, I may be writing this between naps, which take up most of my time these days.

So. 55. If you’re under 30, you’re thinking, Wow! That’s really old! What century were you born in?

Well, kids. I was born before The Beatles invented color. I was born before the previous statement could be countered by the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz on our televisions. You know, when Dorothy steps into Munchkin Land? Aside from the height challenged population, and the large, plastic vegetation Munchkin Land could be Downtown USA if DT, USA decorated itself in shades of grey (Not that kind. No one behaved like that before color was invented.) and determined it’s leadership by dropping houses on the opposition, which might be, in some cases, a model worth considering.

So, 55. If you’re over 40, and not yet 50, you’re probably thinking, good thing I’m not that old. You may also think 15 years is a long time. Keep telling yourself that, no need to become despondent as the sands in the hour-glass race past before you can even turn the damn thing over again.

Once you have a child, of course, time goes by in triple speed. Enough has been said about this phenomenon and I don’t need to delve into it here, but suffice to say, Sunrise, Sunset is a terrible song to play at your wedding. If you hate your parents and hope that they remember your wedding day as the day they wept into the rental tablecloths, gagging on tears, go ahead, be that person. Otherwise, have a heart. Karma is a bitch and all that.  Also, if you have any aged child, do not click on the above link; not unless you have hours to throw down the weeping uncontrollably well.

It’s not that my life at 54 is a living hell. The problem, as Doris Day (ask your grandparents) put it is, you grow out of it. Hence, 55.

At this point I have a husband whom I love and respect, who has put up with me for 35 years and that’s nothing to sneeze at. (Has anyone ever sneezed at less than impressive facts? Does anyone still use this expression besides Doris Day and me?) Putting up with me is quite an accomplishment because I am, after all, me, which is something no one else has even tried to be and for good reason.

I have the best son possible and made him myself from materials I had around the house, which, as anyone can tell you, is quite unique. Despite the fact that he has cruelly abandoned me to attend college and have a life of his own which doesn’t revolve around being available for movies and lunch dates, I love and respect him as well. (Next time he comes home I’m going to perform some sort of evil deed which will make it impossible for him to leave my home of his own volition. Please, don’t tell him this.)

I have lovely friends, some of which knew me before I met my husband and son and still like me, or so they say when their birthdays roll around. Most of them are older than me so, I like them too. Those that are younger, make up for it by speaking up when we’re talking so I don’t have to say, Eh?

There are many members of my family that I don’t want to shoot and who feel less than violent toward me, which anyone with a family knows, is quite an accomplishment.

Yet, 55. 55? That means in less than a decade, I will be 60 and then who knows what will happen next? (I do. I’m just hoping someone will come up with a time travel device before I hit the sixes. It could happen.)

And while, we’re at it, 25. That’s how old my son will be the day after I weep into my hands until I need them to eat cake. How can I be 32 if my son is 25? It defies logic.

Something tells me that my grandparents were happy to see 55 as their fore bearers considered 40 a ripe, old, age and thereby spent very little time wondering if wearing Spanx under your jeans will cut off the circulation to your legs. When my darling Mother-in-Law was 55, by golly, she looked how I feel and, I can only guess by what I know about her now, spent very little time wondering how to meet the lead singer of her favorite band.

So, 55 is on the horizon and I can live by their example and attempt to act my age or I can avoid mirrors and get slapped with a restraining order by Chris Martin (and wouldn’t that be a nice birthday present since he lives in Santa Monica these days?)

It occurs to me, as I became well enough to this project, on the final day of my 54…ism, that it might be about balance; the inner me and the outer me, but anyone who had seen a my dinner menu since I’ve been ill knows balance is not always my forte.

But, I can have a go. Inner me, which has seen enough life to know what is and isn’t important, meet outer me, who doesn’t recognize the surface me and fears the long-term process of disappearing until nothing about the outer me is recognizable. Shake hands. Make peace. Work together. Happy Birthday.

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.

Why Mothers Should Worry

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Explaining motherhood to the uninitiated can be difficult, especially when it comes to the love factor, because the type of love required to attach you to a person who comes into the world by forever altering your body for the worse is a 2,000 on a ten point love scale.

Whoever came up with integrating mother love into a female did a much better job than they did with say, gnats. Really, what’s the point with gnats? They simply live a life to irritate normal people who are just trying to enjoy the summer, much like family BBQs.

I remember telling a terrified acquaintance,who feared she wouldn’t love her infant, that she would feel overwhelming love for her own baby after introductions were made, even though there wasn’t a chance in the world that her baby would be as adorable as mine. After all, my son broke off my tail bone as a how-do-you-do and it only took three or four months to forgive him and treat him like a member of my family. (It took my dogs forever. They were really pissed about the tailbone thing, but it’s quite possible that they misunderstood what happened, as they often had a tendency to do when they were distracted by the word “bone.”)

I’m kidding about my reaction to the tailbone incident of 1988, of course; it wasn’t my son’s fault he had a head like a basketball; that lies with me. I can’t even try hats on in public because they sit on top of my skull like a thimble, thus making other shoppers think they are in a clown hat store and shop owners less than happy to see me.

Anyway, mothers-to-be tend to worry, and not just about the fact that her upcoming baby won’t hold a candle to mine. (and don’t let your baby hold a candle; that’s the number one rule.) Yet, unless your baby is a trouble maker, and most of them aren’t, as there is little trouble to be caused while lying in bed drooling, you don’t have to worry about baby generated nonsense, that’s for grown men.

At this point I’m going to pause and say, no first time mother has, or ever will believe this to be true. I guess you have to have more than one child to understand this from the get go. Because I have no back-up children, it took me a few years to truly understand this and you can ask the 24-year-old version of my Angel Bunny, who is, as we speak, yelling at Congress in my basement.

So, here’s a list of what you should worry about: is your baby, warm, fed, clean and not likely to hold candles? Yes? Now you can stop worrying unless spots appear and you don’t own a firstborn armed with a marker.

Worries can be as varied as the mothers who lie awake at night. (Trick point. All mothers like awake, their babies don’t let them sleep. A friend of a friend once worried that if God gave her an ugly baby, she wouldn’t know about it as she thought of all of her children as the most beautiful ever born. She was wrong, of course as we have already covered, but I’m sure her baby was pretty good.

Most mothers worry about situations that will never happen no matter how many times other mothers insist that they will. A favorite, in my situation, was that my mellow, loving baby with a head full of hair would, at most milestones, become bald and likely to pull a gun out of his diaper.

This never happened; not at nine months, not at two years, not at seven. My son didn’t become cranky until he learned about politics, and who can blame him? At that point, it was a Pandora’s box sort of thing, without the sexual connotation. Luckily, he rarely displays anger towards me unless I sing London Calling like Robert Goulet , so I didn’t become involved when he sent a hornet’s nest to a former member of his band because UPS wouldn’t deliver my box of exploding itching powder and something needed to be done.

Here’s the thing: for as long as you live, what makes your child angry, makes you angry, what makes your child sad, makes you sad, what gives your child joy…you get the idea. And that’s something to worry about.

Why I Allow My Mom to Visit at Christmas

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So, my mom threw out my Christmas presents when she came to spend the holidays with me last week. I know what you’re thinking, “So? Doesn’t everyone’s mom throw out their Christmas presents?”

No you’re not thinking that. Although everyone’s mom has her idiosyncrasies; your mom may correct your grammar and another mom may try to give her adult child a bath in the kitchen sink since it worked well when they were a kid, my mom, however is, well…quirky. Yes, let’s use that word.

In this case, my mom tossed two gift cards while in the course of her duties; disposing of everything she doesn’t deem important in my home, i.e. everything on every flat surface. Unfortunately, having just opened my gifts, I set them in a decorative bowl on my coffee table, not realizing that the bowl did not circumvent the flat surface rule.

After sifting through my recycling and some stomach churning garbage, (turns out Christmas dinner looks way better on the dining room table than it does three days hence at the bottom of a plastic bag, just FYI,) I found my gift cards in a third garbage location and retrieved them. I have hidden them in a place so secret I will absolutely never remember where they are, but at least they won’t end up in a land fill along with all of the other things my mom intends to dispose of.

My mom is currently throwing things out at her girlfriend’s condo so I’m able to jot down a few words before looking for my dog who must have settled on a flat surface for just a moment too long.

I can’t help but wonder what I will someday do while visiting my son’s home which will make him wonder why he continues to invite me to stay. I can, however, share why he’ll open his door rather than pretend he’s in Fiji, a place he knows is too far for me to fly; he is alive.

Most everyone who belongs to that less than exclusive club owes a debt to a primary caregiver, most often a mother, for keeping them alive for the first three years of their life when the average child spends most of its waking hours testing the agility, mind and body, of the woman responsible for bringing them into the world.

Despite this bit of proprietary information, many of us continue to reproduce, secure in the idea that we, as the next (better informed) generation will find a way to raise versions of ourselves without repeating the words which have been passed down, generation after generation just before another sun rises on our precious baby’s newest day. “Just go the !@#$%^ to sleep you little !@#$%^,” a phrase first uttered by Eve resulting in her expulsion from paradise along with Adam, who was pretending he was asleep. The apple thing was invented to avoid using blue language in Genesis.

Once a child is mobile, a stage for which many parents inexplicably long for reasons only evolution can explain, children become tiny drunks and drug addicts, stumbling from one misadventure to the next with nary a backward glance at their harried caregivers who are charged with coming up with funny stories about their child’s near death experiences twenty years hence.

My son, who was apparently a light drinker, had few near death experiences. The most vivid in my mind was when he was a new walker and had followed my husband and I into our walk-in closet. Why we were compelled to meet there, I no longer remember, but I do remember glancing in the direction he normally occupied (south) and finding a dog, which held many of his endearing properties, but none of my DNA resulting in my preference for the baby who was standing thirty feet away at the top of my winding staircase.

He was a charming fellow even then, and before I could react to his precarious situation, he smiled, waved (if he’s been wearing a hat, I swear he would have tipped it,) and said one of his newer phrases, “Bye-bye,” before stepping out with no apparent deference to the lack of solid footing. (He also said, hi, mama, Dindy and Ernie, none of which suited the situation, but I don’t want you, the reader, to consider him a dolt, which you might after the following paragraph, so I added them.)

You know how, in movies, when something is going to happen to Bruce Willis’ or Samuel Jackson’s family, the action turns to slow motion and the hero screams, “nooooooooooooo,” as he runs to save his beloved family at the pace of a LA traffic jam? There’s a reason for that, it’s called reality. As my newly upright son stepped out without the smallest clue that the largest percentage of household accidents are caused by the lack of ability when it comes to descending stairs, (sticking your wet fingers into electrical sockets is the second most dangerous of household injuries, both of which are seldom experienced by the over two set,) my son had tumbled all the way down the stairs and I had yet to complete the final o! even as gravity released him.

Obviously, he turned out OK and that’s the story we’re sticking with (and you’re welcome, Jesse.) I credit his diaper. We’ll never know how many injuries have been evaded by a lack of potty training.

There were other near misses, most of them caused by me with complete lack of malice, such as attempting to cut his baby nails and taking a bit of pinkie with them and letting the young boy place the palm of his hand on the automatic folding headlights of my car which, surprise! close when you turn off the ignition even if a small hand is still exploring.

Every parent knows that the terror involved with raising a child, coupled with the crippling love, ages a person, which would be a great deterrent to premarital sex if we could only convey the nauseating reality to teens. On the bright side, it guarantees an open door policy at our grown child’s residence when they make the mistake of publicizing their address.

Whether our moms were the squishy, puddled adoration type, (me) or the practical you’ll do-as-I-say-or (insert vague threat here) kind, they loved us and still see us as kids. How do I know? Because my little man is the most darling and precious Angel Bunny in all the land, plus he looks even cuter when his beard grows out.

There are times (like when I spit on a finger and clean a whoopsie from his face after following him in a car while he participates in an adult ritual with a hussy) he probably wishes I was the alternative mom, which is, in essence, more what my mom is, but there’s no changing horses mid-stream or leaving your mom in a rest room in London, which wouldn’t really bother me that much, because I know where Paul McCartney’s house is and where Coldplay’s office/rehearsal space is, so…

Anyway. My mom flies in from Atlanta where she moved while I was on my honeymoon in London thirty four years ago. (It’s kind of theme.) Since I live in Chicago, this an example of how different we are as mothers. Get this, my son wants to move to London, (See? A theme!) but has been unable to, thus far because I have shackled him in the basement, where I intend to keep him until he realizes he can’t bear to live outside of a half a miles distance from his mom.

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Poor guy. His mother’s a @#$% nut.” You should know, however, that I’m just making a literary point with exaggeration. He probably could live as far away as say, the post office without breaking my heart. (This is called mommy guilt of which I am Elvis.)

Here we find ourselves returning to the original premise of this missive and by the time you read it, my mother will have arrived and will have been telling me the same stories for at least 72 hours, if you take out for sleep and disapproval of how much money I spend taking her to nice places and after-Christmas sales. (She will also tell family members about what a nice time she had after the fact, so it’s a yin yang sort of situation.)

Other certainties of my mother’s visit: she will claim credit for any talent I have as a writer. (This is not the time to criticize.) She will claim credit for my son’s talent as a musician. She will clean my house (and I will be grateful once she tells me where the dog is). She will sort the gargantuan pile of what I consider single socks and find at least fifty pairs. She will sing songs she doesn’t know by repeating the lyrics a beat after the singer. She will chew and we all know how irritating THAT can be. She will tell me about an ailment she believes can be cured by something she read in the back of the National Enquirer and she will cry when she has to go.

I will cry too, naturally. I will also feel guilty for any irritation that I feel during her visit because I realize by virtue of my own motherhood that someday my son will choose to move someplace where seeing him will be a sometime thing and while I visit, I’ll find ways to irritate him even though I only want to be in his presence.

Also, I owe her for getting me through the first three years of life, relatively unscathed, if you don’t count my unfortunate habit of setting items on surfaces.