My son and I were talking about the kinds of things me and my kid sister did in the old days. What kinds of things I did. You know back before color television, he added before snickering. Of course knowing nothing about his mother other than I’m a mom, the one always there, the one who cooks, cleans, makes everything auto-magically happen, and about my ability to solve problems without breaking a sweat, he is clueless about my life before him.
As far as he knows, I am just a mom. He’s come to assume moms’ come genetically wired with super powers. He takes it for granted I will keep his world spinning, ‘round and round, the wheels greased, the cogs turning smoothly, and the sun shining. He knows all this but he doesn’t know I was born long after color television and I have lived a colorful life.
It’s not as if I have shared the nitty gritty details of my wild days before saying I do and giving birth, with him. My history is mine. Not everything about me is for his ears or any of his business. Before donning the persona of mom, I had a life, which we gals always seem to forget for a while somewhere in our Stepford existence, but that’s another story all together. The truth is there are some things I don’t share with my kids—yes I have secrets, what woman doesn’t–because I don’t want them to engage in the sorts of death defying things my kid sister and I got up to. I don’t want to fuel their imagination.
As he sat smiling as only a thirteen year old does, arrogantly and all knowing, I knew it was time to give him a glimpse into the other me, the girl I was and always will be. I smiled back at took a moment to consider my opening line, ever the writer.
“Max,” I said, “How do you think I learned to drive a stick-shift?”
“Granddad taught you.”
“Nope. Well, I did learn in his car.”
“I knew it, Granddad taught you.”
“No he didn’t. I’d wait until he got home from work, fell asleep, and then I liberate the car keys from his pocket. When I knew he was sound asleep, I tossed Judy (my sister) and Stephanie, our buddy, into the back of the car and drive around the block. Sometimes I couldn’t always get the car into reverse so I’d have the girls get out of the car and push me until I was pointing forward. It was a sticky clutch.” He considered my comment before speaking.
“Did you have your license?”
“Nope, I was fourteen.” I smiled. He knows I don’t lie so there was no cross-examination. I continued.
“I had a smoking hot stingray bike, it’s old fashioned BMX kind of bike.”
“You know how to ride a bike?”
I ignored his slight. “Judy would climb onto the handlebars, rest her legs on the front rim, we ride down dirt hills—BIG HILLS—and I lift my hands to the sky, letting the speed down the hill control the bike. As we flew down the hill at lightening fast speeds we’d both scream at the top of our lungs. It was such a rush. Stopping at the bottom of the hill was always a challenge. We had a several close calls.”
“One time, when we were a older, Judy and I were hiking in Big Sur.” He didn’t bother asking me if I knew how to hike. I could see in his eyes that my confessions were rocking his little world. “Judy slipped over the edge and was hanging onto the branch, actually clinging. The entire time she was hanging there, the two of us were laughing hysterically.”
I poured myself a glass of wine and went on for another fifteen minutes. I told him about diving tag—a swimming game I invented—playing poker with the boys, all night monopoly fests, shooting hoops for quarters, singing and dancing to Steve Wonder, playing dodge ball in the dark, watermelon seed spitting contests, all-night long hide and seek, diving off the high dive, walking across the top of an A-Frame swing set blind folded. You know, all those incredibly fun, stupid, things we did, back before color televisions.
I finished with a story about a night in Singapore. He arched his eyebrow, the unasked question. I took a sip of my wine and continued to tell him about the half dozen Singaporean police banging their M-16s on the glass doors. The glass was all that stood between those guns and me. Being an avid XBOX player he knows what an M16 is.
I took another sip of my wine. Smiled and said, “there’s more, but you are too young to hear the rest,” and then walked into my room to write
“What about the M16s?” He called after me.
It was my turn to snicker.
If your a mom now, have you shared your personal histories with your kids? If your not, would you?