Have you met my Mom?
Today is Chocolate Raisin Day. On El Morno, I posted about how my mother explained to me, during my impressionable years, that raisins were evil and I should never eat them. Ever. Apart from that brief moment when I stepped over to the dark side and ate an oatmeal raisin cookie, the memory of which still fills me with regret, I have stayed away from raisins.
When I was little, she told me that I wasn’t always an only child; that, in fact, I had a sister named Baty Beth. Naturally curious, I asked where Baty Beth was, to which my mother casually replied, “Oh, we had to drown her in the bath tub.” “Why?” I asked, more fascinated than scared. “Well,” my mom went on to explain, “She whined a lot. You know how I hate whining.” I wasn’t much of a whiner as a kid.
Most mothers warn their children to keep their fingers out of places where they do not belong. My mom had a different approach. One fine afternoon we went to the zoo. As we stood feeding bread crumbs to the geese and ducks, I naturally began to wonder if the geese would bite. My mother said that she did not know. (The correct answer would be, of course, that geese bite.) Being a stupid little kid, I stuck my hand into the pen. Geese. Bite. Hard. My mother simply said, “Well now you know, geese bite.” My finger had beak marks and the skin was broken. I’m sure I should have been checked for geese poisoning. Thinking back, my mother did not kiss my finger to make it, “all better,” but she did say, “Bad goose!”
When I was naughty, my mother would threaten me with a wooden spoon. THE wooden spoon. I would plead, “No, no, not the wooden spoon!” and instantly my behavior would improve. Do you know that she never even owned a wooden spoon? I was thirty before I realized this. If you think I was gullible, you are underestimating my mother’s skills.
Every single Halloween, mom convinced me to dress up as Princess Virginia Slim. I simply wanted to be a princess, but she was worried that I would not be warm enough when I went out to trick-or-treat. Princess Virginia Slim wore long, soft white underwear, a red stocking cap, and a Virginia Slims cigarette label. I must admit, the costume suited me well. I wasn’t really the princess type. The comfortable, soft clothes are probably how my mother sold the costume to me, year after year, along with several packs of candy cigarettes.
In spite of the fact that she had drowned my sister, encouraged a goose bite, threatened me with a non-existent wooden spoon, and dressed me up as Princess Virginia Slim, I suffered when we were not together. One day, when I was having a hard time leaving for school, she handed me her sunglasses case and told me that it was a special tele-communicator and that whenever I spoke into it, she could hear me. I believed her, and would walk around the school playground, happily visiting with her. Back in those days, we were not as generous with mental illness diagnosis, and my peers and teachers simply thought I was odd. I believe that my mother may have invented the first flip phone.
Mom also had me convinced that breakfast was overrated, (that is, until my dad stepped in and suggested that perhaps I really was hungry in the mornings) that the truth was overrated, and not to worry too much about men; they’re just not that bright, bless their hearts. If you are a man, don’t take this personally. She does not mean you!
Cole was a little bit smarter than I was, but my mom still managed to convince him that she could take off her skin and dance around in her bones, and that the democrats would steal all his money. Oh, and then there is the Big Snow story. My mom and Cole had a running argument about Big Snow in Albuquerque. Cole was convinced that only Chicago could have Big Snow. So one year, when it snowed in Albuquerque, my mom told him an exaggerated story about how much snow had really fallen. She could tell that Cole was only half believing her. Now as it happened, we also had a lot of snow in Chicago. At my mother’s insistence, I took pictures of the Chicago Big Snow and mailed them to her so that she could mail them back to Cole and prove that Albuquerque had Big Snow. It worked.
Why, you might wonder, did I take the Chicago Big Snow pictures and mail them to her? Well, I am my mother’s daughter, after all, and let there be no doubt that my kid has been instructed that raisins are evil.
I bet you want to meet my mother now, don’t you? Maybe, someday. I’m not sure I want to share her. Only children are like that, you know. Did I tell you she was going to stay at my house and take care of my pups for eight days while Cole and I go to Ireland in June? My mom is the best and I love her best of all.
Odd growing up stories are always welcome in the comment section. After all, Odd loves company!