Tag Archives: mother

I am SO funny.



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retro_momMy older daughter, on the cusp of thirteen, possesses a rapier wit that I brag about the way some other mothers brag about their offsprings’ report cards. (An A? What’s an A compared to a keen-edged sword of sarcasm? I mean, really? Which will get you further in life? An A might land you a great job, so you can buy all the Starbucks coffee you want, but being funny will make people buy coffee FOR you. And, for the record, the kid’s running straight As ALSO, nice bonus.)

But she was pissed at me tonight and hurled the worst insult at me she possibly could:

“You know, Mom, you’re not really that funny.”

I was shocked – shocked, I tell you, shocked. Just like that Captain Renault in Casablanca, only really.

“Whaddya mean, I’m not funny? I’m PLENTY funny!” Probably the lamest comeback ever, proving her point. She nailed said point home with a look over the top of her glasses: glasses, I might add, she chose because they LOOKED JUST LIKE MINE!

I think.

“My BLOG is funny.”

I recalled the other night, her lanky, thin frame curled up on the futon four feet from my computer. “Mom?” she said, in a little girl voice, “Instead of a bedtime story, could you read me some of your cynical thoughts on everything that’s good in life?”

Hilarious, I thought, but I DID read to her from the blog. AND SHE LAUGHED!

Well. It turns out that Little Miss Still-Hasn’t-Got-Her-Period-Yet-This-Is-The-Longest-Case-Of-PMS-On-Record has “Issues On Her Mind” THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU, MOM! THEY ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS AND I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THEM, ohKAY?

oo…kay….

No. NOT okay. Would I take this from an adult? No, I would not.

“You know,” I said, putting my foot down. On the brake. (We were in the car.) “I’m not just ‘The Mom.’ I’m an actual person, with actual feelings, here.”

This worked about as well as: “You know: I’m not your Mom. I’m really a vampire with a soul, sent here by Warner Brothers Television to film a Reality TV show to observe how you deal with it.”

I could see the idea of her own mother being a real, live, flesh-and-blood human being pinballing around in her head, banging and pinging and making those cartoon noises, till finally she went “TILT.”

No, really, she really tilted her head in denial of the concept.

astromomI remembered. Mothers can’t be human beings. It’s just not possible, not allowed; it would turn the whole universe into a huge, sucking black hole – worse than middle school already is. Mothers can’t be cool, they can’t be funny, they can’t be – oh, ew, gross – sexy, and they sure as hell can’t have any feelings.

Because who the hell else are you going to tear the ass off of when one of your friends rips the heart out of you? Who else is going to take all your bullshit and love you anyway, despite the worst bitchfest you might ever throw?

Mom is.

And now tell me: how the hell is someone supposed to do all that if she’s HUMAN? Get real. Have some common sense, people. 

At least until they grow up. Then they find a good therapist. Now THERE’S a bunch that’s not allowed to be human. But don’t get me started on that.

My old shrink was hilarious.

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What’s My Item?


The Escape Hammer

The Escape Hammer

 

My mother – who has been mentioned before in this blog, affectionately, if weirdly – has been affectionate and weird again, just in time for the holidays.

This has become a holiday tradition – considering that my birthday is exactly one week before Christmas – if Christmas is on a Thursday, then so is my birthday – I usually get a double-dose of wackiness in December.

My mom, much like myself, is unconventional. Only imagine how unconventional SHE is, if, when I open a present from her, I never fail to be perplexed and amused.

None of the regular Mom-type gifts from Betsy. Forget sweaters, shirts, scarves, or earrings. I got a cool frying pan once, that I still use – it’s amazingly easy to clean, which is to be expected from my fanatically tidy Mom – no matter what you char inside of it, it just wipes off, and it’s not even non-stick. I have no idea where she found it, or what she paid for it, but every time I caramelize onions, I think of her gratefully.

Which is, oddly, probably exactly what she had in mind when she gave it to me.

Last year she gave me homemade dishtowels, potholders and place mats – in assorted, non-matching colors. It took me a few days to figure out exactly what they were, but they were nice. The potholders don’t keep your hands safe from the heat, the place mats are a little too thick for the table, and the dish towels are kind of an odd size – plus the colors are pure Betsy: but my little one loves them, because they’re sort of rainbow, as in “I used up all my cotton yarn on you.”

Still, the thrill of opening a gift from Betsy is like nothing else. There is no way on earth one could possibly ever guess what’s inside, because there’s no way anyone else got you the same thing.

Wait – that’s not quite true. You CAN get a heads-up on what you got from Betsy – if you manage to get a hold of one of my sisters: because Betsy does things in triplicate. Whatever I get, my sisters also get. So whoever opens first, knows what the other two got.

This year is the quintessential Betsy gift. My mother, in addition to being Joan Crawfordesque in her quest for the most immaculate living space possible, is also Grizzly Bearesque in her quest to keep her “babies” – all of us adults, now, with cubs of our own – safe from any harm that might befall us.

Harm includes: rain, snow, sleet, ice, sunburn, disease, random cartoon safes falling from the sky, hangnails, paper cuts, broken bones, hurt feelings (commenters, beware), and a host of other ills that plague her soul daily.

Her coping strategy is usually “out of sight, out of mind,” which allows our thousand-mile distance – she lives in a southern state, I live in New York – to mitigate her anxiety somewhat. That, and a massive capability for denial, for example:

Me: “Mom, I took the kids to the city today to see the exhibits at the Met – we had a really good time.”

Mom: “By yourself?”

Me: slapping forehead, muttering “stupid self, stupid self…” “Oh, no, Mom – We just happened on a regiment of Marines here in town, and they offered to escort us down. Wasn’t that lucky?”

Mom: breathing a deep sigh of relief “How nice. What nice boys. Did they enjoy the Monet?”

So this year, although I live in a landlocked area, and work from home, and rarely drive more than a few miles to anywhere, I opened a small rectangular package containing a small, heavy, extremely sturdy double-pointed steel hammer.

Upon inspection – lots of inspection, which included a Google search – I learned that this was the “famous” Escape Hammer – proven by the Mythbusters Show as being able to shatter the windows of a submerged automobile, in the event of such a disaster.

“You screw it somewhere easy to reach in your car,” Betsy explained, excitedly. “And then, if your car is ever underwater, you can get out the window! I got one for everybody. And Mythbusters tried it and confirmed that it works, so you won’t have to die.”

Reassuring – and especially interesting, as I happen to be between cars at the moment, and I doubt that Enterprise would appreciate my screwing anything to the Dodge I’m currently renting.

But who wants to worry Mom?

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The REAL serpent in the garden


 

C'mon, you know you want to.

C'mon, you know you want to.

So the holidays are (sort of) over, and my 12-year-old and I are the only ones up and around, clunking about, kicking around holiday debris, enjoying some quality(?) time together, here, on this Saturday morning, around 10-ish, after Christmas.

 

I’m losing a little bit of patience, however, because I kind of thought we were past the baby-talk stage. Never did I talk to my kids in baby talk. I wanted them to learn to actually say “bottle,” not “bah-bah,” so that’s what I would say to them.

Therefore, they learned to speak, not babble, except for my youngest, who persisted in calling her older sister “Bluh-luh” for the longest time – a sound which doesn’t remotely resemble her true name, which begins with a vowel. Still, it helped – and I felt far less like a fool as I chatted endlessly and hopefully at strollers with belted-in droolers. Yeah, I’m really not a baby person. I just had them, and as I tell them both, I like them better and better the older they get.

I take my duty seriously, though, to teach them. Them, at least – not the whole world. The rest of the world, I simply catalog as stupid, smart or somewhere in between, and I tolerate both with equanimity and relative good humor. The stupid make good fodder for this blog. The smart entertain and teach me – though as I often remind my kids, anyone, however stupid, can teach you something.

Today, however, I felt obligated to teach my 12-year-old.

“Mom, where does ‘I’m not my brother’s keeper’ come from?”

Aghast at my own failing to instill any kind of background in the study of religion, however comparative, I was momentarily speechless. Doesn’t EVERYONE know that? Doesn’t everyone somehow assimilate the story of Cain and Abel?

Apparently not.

Having yanked the poor child out of religious education after she attempted to throw herself from a moving car, rather than endure the misery of Roman Catholic Confession, I realized my child was suffering from large gaps in her education.

“Honey, I’ll tell you what one of my favorite professors in college told me. No educated person has NOT read the entire Bible.”

“WHAT?” she gasped. “The whole THING?”

“Not at a single sitting, goof,” I laughed. “But fear not. It’s just a clump of small books, strung together. You don’t even have to read it in order.”

“Moooom…”

I turned stern. “It’s shorter than ‘Twilight.’ ”  Then I softened. “Come on. I’ll read some to you.”

We read the story of Cain and Abel, and then, for background, we started on the Creation story, which led to some trouble before I even cracked the first “Let there be light.”

I began to mutter something about “Creationists” equaling “lunatics,” forgetting completely that I was talking to someone I’d indoctrinated to have tolerance for all beliefs.

My lack of kindness for folks who ignore the colossal body of fossil records and massive scientific evidence in favor of a version of an earth being created that has trees springing up “bing-bing-bing” in a day really pissed her off.

That is, until I started reading it.

“Wait, Mom – a dome? God created the sky as a dome? So, what is that saying about the earth?”

“That it’s FLAT, honey.”

“So, how big is it supposed to be? And what’s beyond the dome?”

I pointed to the first paragraph. “The abyss, honey.”

We went on.

“A basin? Wait, Mom – the sea is a basin? Like a big bowl?”

I nodded.

“Wait, Mom – sea monsters?”

I nodded.

“Wait, Mom – Adam named all the animals? What, in English?”

“Well, no, wait, I don’t know. Maybe Aramaic.”

“What’s Aramaic?”

“An ancient language.”

She did get excited when the geography part started – when the river in Eden is described, and the Tigris and Euphrates are named. (She’s good at geography.)

The temptation of Eve, however, was unsettling. You see, a lot of misconceptions abound regarding that little tale – but if you read the book, as we did this morning, you learn a lot about who the snake really is.

Sure, it’s Eve who does the talking with the serpent – but it says right there in the book, Adam is with her the whole time. Does he speak up? Say anything like: “Eve – babe – is this really the best idea? Didn’t God say cheese it on that tree?” Does Adam step in front of her and say, “No thanks, leave my wife alone?”

No. The wuss does nothing except grab the apple and munch when it’s his turn.

It gets worse. When God, like an angry dad, comes strolling through the garden, where Adam and Eve are hiding behind a plant (literally), and says: “Hey! You kids, get out here. Who told you that you were naked?”

(At which point my daughter inserted: “Our EYES.”)

Adam, the rat, the snitch, the stoolie, the coward, puts his weak-ass little hand on his wife’s back and shoves her right under the bus. “SHE did it. She ate the apple, and SHE gave it to ME.”

So the Old Testament God, who is, if you notice, a rather moody thing, short-tempered and VERY big on vengeance, doles out THIS punishment:

You: woman – childbirth is going to SUCK.

You: man – no more plucking from the trees. Now you have to sweat and farm.

You: serpent – crawl on your belly, and everyone is going to hate you.

And He locks up the garden of Eden – because there’s one tree left He wants to make sure NOBODY gets a hold of: the Tree of Life. Eat that, and you’ll live forever.

God puts a revolving fiery sword and a band of cherubim at the gate. Nice. Keep in mind, when you hear cherubim, don’t think sweet little cherubs. Every single time an angel appears in sacred texts, the first thing they say isn’t what you see on the Lifetime Channel: “Hey, let me solve your problems.”

It’s: “Be not afraid.”

You think Twilight vampires are scary, exciting reading? Try the Bible. Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s a real page turner, that’s for sure.

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A Rampage of Minor Atrocities


rampageMy 12-year-old is on a Rampage of Minor Atrocities.

She says she (a) wants to get over her Fear Of Getting In Trouble, and (b) Wants To Rebel, which (she says) is a Very Difficult Task with a mother like me.

“Why?” I asked, puzzled. I’d assumed rebellion was sort of a built-in no-brainer (sometimes literally, as in “Where were your brains when you chose that friend/wore that outfit/called your mother a bitch/set fire to the table?”) when you’re newly hormonal.

“It’s tough to be a rebel when your mother doesn’t disapprove of anything you do,” she said.

It’s true. My two daughters, 12 and 9, have asked me why they never get “punished” – as in, bed without dinner, sit in the corner, beatings, or the typical sanctions. Instead, if they spill something carelessly (as, really, we ALL do), they simply have to help me clean it up (or clean it up themselves). (As we all do.)

If they’re fresh-mouthed, I either don’t speak to them, (which they HATE, but it’s what I’d do to anyone else, right?) or I assume they’re too tired to behave, and so it’s beddy-bye.

Consequences, rather than punishments. It just makes more sense. Two weeks ago, my youngest and her pal sloshed through my black and white kitchen (newly painted, newly floored) and got mud all over EVERYTHING.

Next day, I hear her friend whisper: “Did you get in trouble?”

Youngest, to her friend: “I don’t GET in trouble,” she said.

“You don’t? You LUCKY!”

A snort. “Yeah, SO lucky. I hadda get on my hands and knees with my mom and wash the floors and cabinets we messed up.”

So said Oldest, in her Rampage of Minor Atrocities, poured Gatorade on the seat of a classmate. The next day, she confessed to the friend, who, with an exasperated gasp, pointed in amused horror at her friend. “It was YOU! I had to wear my hoodie around my waist all DAY because of you!”

“You’re telling on yourself?” I asked her in surprise.

“That’s half the fun,” she grinned. Then she did a dead-on accurate Cheerleader: “AAAHH! Where’s my ponytail?” I watched in horrified fascination as she then mimed swinging an invisible ponytail in front of said imaginary cheerleader’s face.

I laughed till I cried. Then: “You didn’t really cut anyone’s ponytail off, did you?”

A beat. Then: “No, Mom.”

I exhaled.

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Little Patience with Loser from Liverpool.


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Liverpool Football Club logoFirst of all, this is what started the fight. PLEASE tell me you find this funny.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s2O9zTdjTg

My daughters and I sure do. This is Peter, falling into the snow.

If you knew how graceful Peter actually is – and how this pratfall is actually intentional, you’d laugh even harder.

NOW:

My daughter has a YouTube account. She is twelve years old. She has a digital camera that shoots 10-minute YouTube vids. What’s the harm? After all, she found the Charlie the Unicorn videos for me on YouTube, and that alone was worth letting her have the account.

So this jerk comments on the video:

Stephen Gerrard in a Superman uniform“it was kinda gay but yet i couldn’t turn away from the screen…i watched it like 5 times…i don’t know why!?!?”

HER: he fell on his face, that’s funny and how is that gay?

HIM: you don’t understand because your american!!!!

HER: and u r…?

HIM: english!
i wud lyk it if u didnt reply cus evry time i clik on dis page i hear ur laf!
it goes thru me!
ewe!

ME (enraged mother – unbeknownst to HIM – and, incidentally, someone who has BEEN to England, and who has ABSOLUTELY nothing against England OR against FOOTBALL):
I thought the UK was into that slapstick kind of humor. After all, aren’t you lot the ones who keep Rowan Atkinson making movies? (shudder.)

I could go on with more UK “humor” – which sometimes IS quite funny – but I’d’ve thought this one would go over quite big, really.

I mean, how many “Arse:nal” jokes are out there, polluting the world, anyway?”

(But sorry, you’ll never hear me shout “Manchester United.” I’m Arsenal, all the way.)

HIM: Uk humor as you call it is better than being american and laughing at the word pudding thank you very much!

So go get a life!

I messaged him back, explaining I was the girl’s mother, that Liverpool wasn’t far, didn’t he get tired of sounding like the Beatles, (I think I also said something about Lennon being a poser – yes, I definitely think I said that – because, well, it’s totally true), and that the Beatles statues festooning the city weren’t too heavy for me to pick up and throw at anyone hassling my kid.

He wrote back something unimaginative and misspelled – kind of getting hysterical about me insulting Liverpool – he’s a Liverpool Football fanatic – I can picture him, lonely, twitchy and high-strung, downing Guinness after Guinness, wishing desperately that some girl (or boy) would please, please, come talk to him, or that he could manage to say something appropriate just this once, instead of the stupid angry shit that always seems to come out of his mouth, poor sod.

So I gently tried to explain that I didn’t insult his beloved hometown – what I DID insult were (1) The Beatles, which of course are long overdue for some bitch-slapping, and (2) his own insults, and I even gave him some friendly suggestions (wasn’t that nice of me?)

“F’r’instance, here are just two examples of what you might have said:

“Is that your laugh, or were you suddenly attacked from behind?”

“Good Lord, I thought Beatles music was the worst sound on earth until I heard that laugh in your vid.” (Yeh, yeh, I know you lot have statues and all that worshippy bit in Liverpool. I still think Lennon was a poser, and McCartney was a pop-machine.)”

He wasn’t very grateful, though, for my Cyrano-style response.

So I finally lost patience and blocked him as a user.

After all, trading insults can be a lot of fun – if someone has even the smallest amount of intelligence, or wit. But just receiving “nyah, nyah, stupid! American!” gets old fast.

I went to his page. All the comments – all 378 of them – were from like, one or two people. I started to feel really sorry for the poor, sensitive wretch. Nobody really likes him, it seems, not even his other loser friends.

So it was just a sad little contact. Even my own kid outwitted him, really. Which is probably what peeved him in the first place.

Loser from Liverpool. I’m sure it’s a nice little place, although the Beatles were sure delighted to shake the dust of that place from their sandals as quickly as they could. You didn’t see any of them racing home to build their mansions there, did you?

“Ah, home again, Ringo.”

Didn’t think so.

Maybe all the statues made them feel weird.

I know at least one weirdo there. Well, I feel as if I know him. Ick. Or, as he would write: “ewe.”

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The Trouble with Vincent


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Vincent VanGogh's The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art is not the best place to have an abscess in your mouth, especially if you’re nine years old, and you also have new shoes that are making you have to curl your toes to keep them from pinching.

This is a good thing to keep in mind.

It also doesn’t matter that your mother warned you that new shoes are a terrible idea in New York City; they were SO colorful and pretty you just HAD to wear them.

It also doesn’t matter that you just WOULDN’T bring your jacket, because it was warm when we left. Mom will hand over hers, even though all Mom is wearing is a little black tank top and low-rise jeans that she only just realized barely covers her belly like a teenager’s; she can tell by the little breeze that keeps giving her goose bumps.

Mom is also thinking she is very grateful that since Peter’s been away, she’s lost about ten pounds missing him, or else that belly might be hanging over said blue jeans, making this not only uncomfortable for her, but also for onlooking museum-goers. When Peter comes back, and we all come here together, she will get Peter to hold all the jackets.

Because it will be a cold day in July before Mom lets anybody go anywhere again in new shoes and no jacket, that is for DARN sure.

Still: Mom got to see six Van Gogh paintings in person, and that was worth being cold. Sort of. Considering that Mom lost about 600 calories shivering, and Vincent lost his mind and an ear for the sake of those painting, Mom made out lucky in comparison.

:: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – ::

The painting you see pictured is Vincent VanGogh’s Cornfield with Cypress Trees, and it was my favorite of the lot. The reproduction here, like all reproductions of the massively, endlessly reproduced VanGogh images, does scant justice to the painting.

Everyone in the entire universe has seen VanGogh’s work by now, which is interesting, considering the man was considered – and actually, he kind of was – a total flake during his lifetime. He never sold a single painting, although now they’re worth zillions. Not to him, of course. Now he’s dead as a doornail, poor earless thing.

Even now, as talented as he is, if he were someone I knew, he’d probably be one of those friends who, when they call, you kind of go: “Listen, Vincent, I gotta run, can I call you back? No really, this time I WILL call… No, don’t drop by, the kids are… they’re sleeping. Daytime? They’re – they’re napping. No, don’t drop by then, either. Why? Um. Why, that’s a good question. Oh, I’ve got it! Because the principal of their school is coming by, that’s why. Listen, Vincent, can I call you back? I really have to run…”

And you wouldn’t want to even ASK him about his ear. He’d get all started on how in love he was with that girl. He’d go on and on. and you’d be rolling your eyes at whoever was with you in the room…

“Is that Vincent again? Hang UP, for Heaven’s sake!”

You’d be mouthing: “I can’t, I feel SORRY for him…”

Your friend would walk away, shaking his head and muttering.

If you were lucky, though, Vincent would SO appreciate you as his only friend that he’d send you paintings – which, since he was still alive, you would TOTALLY not appreciate. You’d look at the weird, vibrant colors, the thick layers of paint – and like everyone else who saw the radical departure from the sedate, perfect realism of painting back then, you’d force a smile onto your face and say: “Gee, thanks, Vincent, you REALLY shouldn’t have.”

You’d let him sit at your kitchen table and mope, though and probably watch him cry. You’d feed him, because he never had any money. Then, after he overstayed his welcome, you’d send him on his way.

If you were a goofball like me, you’d probably shove the painting into a closet, where one of your kids would decide to “improve it” with crayon or lipstick.

Either that, or your spouse would give it away behind your back to a keener-eyed friend who offered to take it off his hands, even though it meant something to you, because Vincent, as annoying as he could be, was, after all, your pal.

Then, a few years after Vincent died, you’d learn that he was declared a genius, and, thrilled that you had one of his works, you were now set for life, and your kids could go to any college they wanted, you’d go to dig out that painting you’d stored safely in that closet…

Only to find that your husband had sold it to his more savvy friend for a handful of magic beans.

In which case, the only thing to do would be to plant the magic beans, grow the beanstalk, send said husband up after the golden goose, and once said husband is out of sight into the clouds, chop down beanstalk and look for another painter friend.

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