Mar. 23, 2017

Who Are You?

A few years ago, my husband and I were on our way home from an outing. My son, Reese, was in the back seat listening to our conversation as we bantered back and forth. I believe my husband, Reese Sr., was talking about The Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.

“It’s such a waste of money,” I declared.

“Yeah, but you’ll never win if you don’t at least enter the sweepstakes. It’s like the lottery; you’ll never win the lottery if you don’t play it.”

From the back, my son spoke up, “You always told us it was a waste of time when we were growing up,” he said of he and his older sister’s upbringing. “It taught me not to hope for anything.”

I turned to look in the direction of the back, “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying I just learned not to hope for too much in life. I’m wasting my time hoping and dreaming for things. I don’t know how else to say it,” he answered.

I thought about what he said for several days. I was very disturbed by this revelation. A few days later, I called his sister, Amber, and told her what he had said.

“What! What in the hell is he talking about?” She demanded. “That is a crock of …” She didn’t finish the sentence. I knew where she was going with it anyway.

“Well, did I do that to you?” I asked, still troubled that I had put out the light of hope in my children’s lives and dashing their dreams.

“No, you did not! That is just crazy, Mom. He’s looking for excuses.”

Not long after that, I was talking to my son and trying to encourage him to exercise more and spend less time on the video games. “You need to be out more. Let’s go to a gym and be workout buddies. Would you do that with me?”

“I suppose,” he said, “but, you know I never got into exercising and walking because you never let us.”

“What! Where did you get that from? I’ve always tried to encourage you guys to exercise.”

“No you did not,” he insisted adamantly. “Whenever I wanted to go for a walk you told me I wasn’t allowed to leave the yard!”

“That’s not true,” I denied just as insistently. “You used to ride your bike everywhere, even to school. Of course, I would let you exercise if you wanted! Who are you and what did you do with the boy-child that grew up in this house?”

I called Amber and told her what he said. “What is going on over there,” she laughed. “You told us we couldn’t go walking around with friends for no reason because it encouraged mischievous behaviors, but you never said we couldn’t do it for purposes of exercising. You were forever trying to get us to go outside and play. That’s why you bought the trampoline.”

I could almost hear my daughter rolling her eyes on the other side of the phone. “Well, okay,” I conceded. “I just want to make sure I’m remembering things the way they happened.”

“You are,” Amber said assuredly.

I used to work the graveyard shift and I’d come home and eat cereal with my son every morning from the time he was five and up. He loved “Crappin’ Crunch.” That’s what he called any cereal he ate. I don’t care if it was Cheerios; he called it “Crappin Crunch.” When he was around three, he heard the name on TV and decided that is what all cereal is called. The irony is he had never had Captain Crunch before in his life. Nonetheless, he doesn’t remember any of the morning ritual.

“I remember eating cereal every morning. But I don’t remember you eating it with me.”

(So I used to eat that nasty cereal for nothing)

A few months later, he and I were in Walmart together and I saw a young girl with a skimpy little top on and wearing a pair of booty shorts. She couldn’t have been any older than twelve. I could only stand their shaking my head in disgust.

“What?” My son, Reese asked.

“That girl,” I nodded in her direction. “She’s way too young to be wearing a slut get-up.”

“You used to let Amber wear things like that all the time.”

“No, I did not,” I denied. “I would have knocked the hell out of her for it.”

My son, who does not like to be wrong about anything, got a little loud with me (in Walmart to embarrass me into silence) and insisted, “I remember you letting her wear things like that all the time so I don’t know why you are shaking your head at someone else doing the same thing!”

When will my children learn, I’ve been doing things longer than they have? I have more experience than they do at embarrassing people. Even louder than he did (Yes, I drew a crowd of eye stares) I yelled, “Hell no I did not allow your sister to dress like a slut and leave my house! I would have choked the shit out of her before letting her walk out the door!”

I was livid with him for saying that. I called Amber when I got home and told her what claims this alien brother of hers was now making. “He swears I let you wear slut clothes and booty shorts!”

“What!” She yelled into the phone. “You would have grabbed me by the hair, drug me back inside and changed my clothes for me had I ever tried to wear something like that. I remember not even wearing spaghetti strapped tops because you thought they were inappropriate!”

“That’s what I’m saying,” I said into the phone.

She demanded to know, “What household did he grow up in? Just wait until I get ahold of him. He’s going to stop this craziness or I’ll beat it out of him!”

He is 5’7” and about 200 lbs. She is 5’4” and 110 lbs. He’s afraid of her, too. I think she did something to him because I haven’t heard any more about my parenting skills from him, or lack thereof. If anything, he tells me I was a good mother while he was growing up.

That’s right, you, alien from Mars, boy-child, little diaper full of … I’m not going to finish the sentence. You know where I’m going with this anyway.