Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Like My Karma the Way I Like It

According to my parents, I was a pretty easy baby and toddler. I napped when I was supposed to. I didn’t cry a lot. I listened. Even as I got older I was always the good/well-behaved child in the family, the one my mom didn’t have to worry about having tantrums in the mall or misbehaving at school. But, as I’ve been told, even as a young child I was a little bit OCD. (And okay, admittedly, I still am). Remember Sally in When Harry Met Sally – when she orders her salad in her own particular way, dressing on that side? That’s me. I also like what she says in the movie, that she just likes things the way she likes them. There’s nothing wrong with being particular, right?

But anyway, when I was around two or three apparently I had this thing, where I would only use a Kleenex if it came from this one particular box in our living room. If anyone tried to give me one from somewhere else, I cried and screamed and insisted the Kleenex must be from the living room. I’m sure this drove my mother crazy (and I’m sure it wasn’t just the Kleenex, although this is the story I’ve heard over and over and over again my whole life.) I’m not sure how long this went on, maybe months or years, but I do remember what cured me of it. Once I was at my no-nonsense next door neighbor’s house and I needed a tissue. I insisted my mom run back to our house and get me one from the living room, until my neighbor yelled at me and insisted I take the tissue from her house. I’m not sure why, or exactly what she said to me (but vaguely remember she said something to the effect that I should stop being such a whiny brat), but whatever it was, I never complained about the tissues again.

And like Maureen said, there’s nothing like karma. Because my youngest son is exactly this way. He will only drink his juice box if it’s facing a certain way and placed in the Sponge Bob cup-holder in one direction; he will only walk on one side of the garage, which is, of course the longer route to the door, and he has a fit if you try to make him go the other way. He instructs me specifically on where each part of his dinner should go on his plate. And I could probably go on and spout off a million little things he wants a particular way, things that drive me crazy on a daily basis.

Of course, when I complain to my mom about it, she just laughs and asks if I took a Kleenex from the living room today. Okay, point taken.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

High Maintenance

I really, really hope that my mother doesn't read this week's post, as I know whatever I end up confessing, she would remind me of about 500 additional incidents that caused her to pull out her hair.

My mother always referred to me as her "high-maintenance child" because I was colicky as n infant and strong-willed as a toddler and beyond. She has since eaten these words, after raising my siblings who have totaled three cars, gotten brought home by the police, had our house t.p.-ed, and so on. "High-maintenance" sounds pretty good right about now, huh?

Of course, I had my fair share of difficult moments as a child. If my mom said up, I said down. She suggested I wear pants to school, and I'd only want to wear a dress. Sometimes I think I argued with her just for the sake of challenging her and to see if her head would pop off due to frustration. Like the time when I was in kindergarten and she brought me to a fancy department store and told me not to touch anything. I responded by knocking over a mannequin and shattering it into a million pieces. That one wasn't on purpose. I think.

And as a teenager, I had my fair share of "I'll just say I'm sleeping over at a friend's house" and missed curfews. Then, when I entered college, I decided to get a tattoo. Her reaction of, "That's nice" was somewhat anti-climactic.

But as I've said before, everything I did that my parents thought was terrible has been either matched or completely overshadowed by my two brothers and sister. Yet my mother still calls me her difficult child, despite never having crashed their car into the side of the garage and then pretended that the huge dent just "appeared overnight." Ahem.

A few years ago, I had my own high-maintenance child. My mother smiled and sat back, happy with the knowledge that karma is truly a great thing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oh, Let Me Count the Ways...

I giggled when I saw what this week's topic is. Truly, I did. There were so many ways I drove my mother crazy that choosing just a few to highlight caused me a fair amount of stress. Something my mother would appreciate hugely. Finally, after all of these years, I am going to admit to the world how many gray hairs I actually gave my mom.


So, where to be begin?

I could talk about the time I raised our phone bill (remember, this was long before all-in-one long distance plans) to a horrifying (really horrifying) amount for three months in a row calling a college guy I fancied myself in love with. What makes this story worse is I (okay, yes, I am sooo embarrassed to admit this) HID the phone bills when they came the first two months. The third month, I sort of had to give in and show it to her, because otherwise, we'd have lost phone service.

She was not happy. And, as a mom who has faced her own battles with phone bills caused by her teenage daughter over the years, I totally get this. Now. Not so much then.

I could talk about the time I, living in another state at the old age of eighteen, decided to marry a man I barely knew and gave her the news over the phone. When I shared that I met him at a "church" that was actually not a church, but some made-up religion centered out of another guy's house (um...cult? Maybe. I've never decided this for sure), and that this guy stated it was God's will for us to marry, I'm sure she hung up the phone and cried. (For the record, I did not marry this guy. I just thought I was going to, but luckily, sanity won out in the end).

Or I could talk about the time I, as a senior in high school, took off with a girlfriend for the evening (um, the entire evening), with her parents believing she was at my place and my parents believing I was at hers. When her parents called my house to check in, the entire story unraveled, and my parents phoned the police with my license plate number. Yeah. That was a fun night for all of us.

Or another night that I (also a senior in high school) took off with another friend for a party. And then, when it was obvious that no one should be driving, called home and left a rambling message that I was staying the night at my friend's house. The next day, when I got home in the early afternoon, my parents were just about to call the police again. Because, apparently, I hadn't left the message on our phone. They, for most of the morning, thought I was sleeping in, but when Mom finally checked my room and found I wasn't there...Well, let's just say it's a good thing I got home when I did.

Okay, you know what? Those four are enough. Let's leave it at that before I turn any of my own hairs gray! But Mom? For the record, I apologize for stressing you out and driving you crazy. I'm lucky I had you to always, always steer me the right way.

Now, just for fun, tell me some of the ways you drove your mom crazy. Please? Misery loves company and all that...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A thing my mom didn't teach me. And a thing she did.


Obviously. Exhibit A - this post. Yup - late again.

When I was a kid, we moved across town when I was between elementary school and junior high. This meant that I would have to go to a different school than all my other little buddies come the fall. To say I raised a stink at this prospect would be a vast understatement. After all, these were my bosom, lifelong friends and they would remain so should we continue on in our studies together. (I can remember the names of maybe three of those bosom chums today, their faces not at all, and am facebook friends with one of them. Yes, my logic was flawed. Oh hindsight...)

My parents, to their credit, acquiesced and enrolled me at the school I pined to attend... and then my lovely, wonderful, long-suffering mother drove me to and from school every day for three interminable years. I have yet to adequately apologize to her for putting her through that.

I suppose that it wouldn't have been quite so bad for Mom except that, every single day, she would pull up in front of the school and watch as all the other kids came out the doors, got into cars, or walked to the bus stop, or wandered home in twos and threes... and I would not appear. The last of the stragglers would leave and the teacher parking lot would empty and still my mom sat there in the car, wondering where the heck I was.

Eventually--and it was always a long eventually--I would emerge, knapsack full of books (almost none of them homework-related) and clamber into the front seat, where Mom sat, frowning faintly as she tried to parse my unfocused gaze and unexplained tardiness.

"Where were you?" she would ask (meaning perhaps physically and/or mentally).


"What took you so long?"

"Uh... I dunno... I was just thinking."

"You can't think and get your coat on at the same time?"

Well - apparently not. Because my busy little brain wasn't really up to multi-tasking at such a young and tender age but it was certainly occupied. I was an inveterate daydreamer and, as such, was easily distracted to the point where I would just stand there in front of my open locker, staring into its depths, miles and worlds and adventures away. And, as often as it drove my mother positively bonkers to have to wait and wait and wait for me (ie: daily) she never completely blew a gasket. Popped a couple of seams, maybe, but that was only fair. I wasn't a particularly comprehensible or accommodating child. I didn't mean to be an unmitigated pain in the ass, I just wasn't that self-aware, you see. As frustrating as it must have been, my mom put up with me.

But she never taught me punctuality.

Because that would have meant teaching me to put my daydreams away before I was done with them. I wasted a good deal of her time back then... and she let me. Because I think, somehow, she knew deep down that those daydreams might lead me somewhere. And by letting me follow them, even at the expense of her own patience and sanity on occasion, she taught me that it was okay to do that.

She taught me that my inconvenient daydreams were important.

It was the absolute best thing she could have taught me. And she had to sit there listening to an awful lot of talk radio for me to learn it. Sorry, Mom. And Thanks.