Growing up I contemplated multitudes of nonsensical issues. They ran the gamut depending on the time of the day, the position of the sun, my mom’s mood, and how much I was willing to gamble with my life for my cause. Taking on a Latin matriarch when she’s prickly as swarm of wasps fleeing a hive under attack by a baseball bat, can be dicey. Even the most adept covert asset for the CIA would stand down, but not me.
At the ripe old age of foolish youth and reckless abandonment, I was burdened with the sort of mind that drifted outside of the stratosphere, had a hankering to close the door on all questions, and a unyielding need to understand ethereal concepts such as love and why I had A-sized breasts while Debbie had DD’s. Regardless of the risk, I challenged my limited universe and the government of Mom.
The topics my young, foolhardy mind, decided required severe consideration, such as why Mom purchased Cheerios and Shredded Wheat instead of the popular Captain Crunch and Sugar Pops, or why she for one moment, thought I preferred a pixie style hairdo instead of wearing my unruly locks down my back, defied logic. I had to have a reason, an answer, or an explanation, for whatever was festering to the point of septic in my head. If I couldn’t find the answer on my own, or if Mom was the root of my inquisitiveness, I’d ask her.
It didn’t matter to me if she worked a 3 -11 shift after spending the morning in school pursuing her degree, or if Uncle Ted, who had just returned from a tour in Vietnam, was acting weird. I had my inalienable rights, which to be honest, hadn’t a clue I did. As far as I was concerned, it was her duty to provide me with the keys the universe and to shed light upon my dimmed wit.
Anyone who has a mom, or is a mom, understands the precarious nature of the female psyche. One moment Mom is Mary Poppins, and in the next, assuming she’s found the half eaten sandwich you accidentally left under your bed, which is covered in brown ants, or if you can’t sit still like a tray of ice cubes in the freezer, she can turn into Captain Hook and send you over the plank.
Like I said if I felt plucky, was channeling my youthful invincibility, even if Mom were in a state—evident by the time of the day she vacuumed the living room carpet and the duration of her one-sided conversation with the Hoover—C4 wouldn’t stop me from asking endless questions or lobbying for some cause. More times than I am proud to admit my punishment for relentless questioning—aka challenging the NO or NOT NOW words, gospel and absolute rule of Mom’s—was to wash all the windows inside and out, and not just once. Depending on how prickly she was, and how big of pain in her arse I was being, she’d make me wash every dish, pan, pot, bowl, glass, piece of flatware, in the cupboards, dry each, put them away, and start again. Mom and Mr. Miyagi believed repetition was the solution to teaching (breaking) the exuberant spirit. I can’t say I ever learned the lesson fully, nor did I stop asking why or why not. I did, however, after getting dishpan hands, come to understand, strategy, timing, subtlety, the art of war, was more selective, but mostly, when to keep my mouth shut.
I haven’t changed much. I continue to question my universe, limited as it. I still don’t understand love, but I did learn that it’s more satisfying than a bowl Captain Crunch and a lot less fattening. There are other side effects, but I’ll leave those to Byron, Keats, and country singer/song writers.
What attribute from your younger self did you bring forward or lose, but wish you did or didn’t?
The cereal controversy raged off and on over the years. Mom’s answer, “we’ll get ants if I buy sugary cereals,” never satisfied me. I countered with, “Debbie’s mom buys Captain Crunch and they don’t have ants.” I may have been daft back then, but I did my research. To my discredit, when my own kids asked for Captain Crunch I feed them the same line. They didn’t buy it either.