15 Things I’ve learned from my Mom

1. Cake is a good breakfast.  Eggs, flour, milk.  What more do you need?

2. Always save room for dessert.

3. Boys are impressed by the perfect spiral.

4. When parenting, say “no” only when you have to.

5. Never throw a jar of Vaseline or nail polish in a fit of anger.

6. PMS is real.

7. There are no boy toys or girl toys.  There is no men’s work or women’s work.

8. The world is shades of grey.

9. You have kids to have an excuse to play as a kid.

10. Stay married long enough and your husband will give in and let you decorate the house however you wish.

11. It’s ok to take a little credit for how your kids turned out.  You started them on their paths.

12. If you have a favorite color, it will seep into every aspect  your life.

13. Beware of street poles.

14. You’re never too old to learn something new.

15. The more skin the male on the cover is showing, the “better” the book.

 

My mom and me

Favorites

When asked who are mother’s favorite is, my brothers and I respond different.  They say me.  I maintain its Face.  When she is in the room, we all say a different sibling.  Because it’s fun to irritate my mother.  But truly it’s Face.  “But he was in trouble the most!  I punished him the most!” my mother says.  True, but if I had done any of the things he had done, I would have been locked up in a convent until I was 18.

When we are asked about our dad’s favorite, we all look at each other and shrug.  I don’t know.

***

When talking to other moms, the discussion of favorites comes about.  Usually to deny favorites or secretly admit them.  I always boasted, “Tornado A’s my favorite!  He can’t run away or back talk!”

Guess what.  He can.  Which means I need a new catch phrase.

“It changes from minute to minute.”

***

Tornado E: You look like a zombie.

He was immediately demoted to below his brothers.  Since it was the *Very First* thing he said today, he was demoted beneath my books, chocolate, and hot showers.

Tornado S: Wow!  Mommy, you cleaned the whole house!

He was immediately my favorite because it was said without sarcasm and with enthusiasm.

Tornado A ran and hugged me.

He was immediately my favorite.

Tornado E: Mommy, you make the best breakfasts!

Tornado E was immediately my favorite.

Tornado E: Mommy, your tummy is bigger than daddy’s!  You have a fat tummy!  (Tornado E  was immediately demoted under his brothers.  Again.)

Tornado S: Mommy, you’re fat!  (Tornado S was immediately demoted with Tornado E.  If we had a pet, they would be beneath the pet.)

Tornado E: And you have a fat butt!  (Laughter from both boys)

Tornado S was demoted beneath books, chocolate, and hot showers.  Tornado E was demoted beneath books, movies, all desserts, hot showers, and Disneyland.

And in *my* defense, I am NOT bigger than the ex.  I do NOT have a bigger gut than the ex.  And my pajama pants make my butt look big.  AND all of this happened in the first hour of the day!

My Mom: Well, in their defense, Fae, you could stand to lose five to ten pounds.

My mom was now demoted beneath the boys, my father, my brothers, my sister-in-law, my friends, and my favorite grandma.

Tornado S: HUG!  (He wrapped me into a bear hug.)

He was now my favorite.

Tornado A hugged me.

He was now my favorite.

Tornado E waited until the boys are doing something else and hugged me.

Tornado E: I love you, Mommy.

Tornado E was my favorite.

Look at that.  Three favorites.

And my mom is still demoted.

Points of Interest

  • I wanted to pack up as much stuff as possible the night before, but my parents decided that all we needed to do was put in the car seats and load the big bags.
  • The mini van was more narrow than my SUV.
  • I was ready at 6am.  They were ten minutes late.  I could have slept in ten more minutes.  Ok. Now I’ll drop it.
  • “Wow.  You should go away more often.  I’ve never seen your house this clean.”  “You’ve never visited at breakfast before the tornadoes are loose.”
  • I can now cuss only in my mind while I struggle to strap boys into seats on a bench slightly too narrow.
  • Best line: “I think your son just got the clap.”  My brother took them to the bathroom at a stop.  “Tornado S laid his junk right on the urinal.”  There is only so much theory teaching I can do.  By the way, Friendly Giant, do you mind teaching them to shake too?
  • My boys are completely melodramatic.  “My back hurts so much.  I’m going to die.”  “I’m so cold.  I’m going to die.”  “I’m so bored.  I’m going to die.”  “It’s so fluffy.  I’m going to die.”  (Their reference.  Not mine.)
  • It’s totally weird to find yourself getting excited like a homecoming when you no longer live there.
  • Two story suite.  A room with two queens and a crib for the boys and me.  The hide-a-bed in the living room for The Friendly Giant.  A loft room with a CA King for the parents.
  • Being a loft means there is a half wall at the head of the bed, overlooking the living room.  Up popped a very blond head with sparkling eyes and a mischievous smile.  My heart stopped.
  • And my dad laughed.
  • Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken.
  • Thanks to The Violinist for getting us discount tickets at Disneyland.
  • We would have been the first ones there except for the free breakfast.  FREE breakfast.
  • First ride: Star Tours.  I got the before and after interview on the Flip.
  • Thanks to the BFF for teaching me to snag Fast Passes and to hold them and snag when you can.
  • Both boys were tall enough for Star Tours, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
  • I’m going to say this just once. *I* did not lose any boys on my watch, in my zone, no matter how many I had.
  • Tornado S decided he will never do again nor should the party do again  Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Haunted Mansion.
  • I found my new hobby.  Building light sabers.
  • My family lacks communication when we are tired and hungry.
  • Nothing is more fun than the Buzz Lightyear ride with the boys.
  • To the jerk who stole a light saber from our stroller while we were in a ride, you suck.  I hope karma kicks your ass.
  • So maybe leaving the park at dinner time *was* a good idea.  I still didn’t have to like it.
  • S’more bark and the discussion on how we can make it at home.
  • Disneyland TWO DAYS IN A ROW.
  • Tornado E was just tall enough to do Indiana Jones.  He freakin’ loved it!
  • He also bought a necklace.  I call it creepy.  He calls it Frank.
  • Tornado A loved The Tiki Room.  And blue grass.  Go figure.
  • When we’re not tired and hungry, my mom and I kick @ss as a team.
  • My dad and I left the park after lunch for “naps.” But Tornado A fell asleep as we walked to lunch.  He slept through lunch.  He was not interested in napping again.  Far from it.
  • On the other hand, the older boys slept for an hour and half, and I had to wake them up.
  • Last ride on Star Tours, Tornado E was the rebel spy.
  • More souvenirs.  Little things.  I should have bought the boys more Star Wars cars.
  • The ice cream parlor was closed!  WTH!
  • The fireworks were awesome as usual, but Tornado A prefered to snuggle up in my arms and ignore them.
  • Getting out of the park was a b*tch as usual.
  • The weekend was much too short.
  • I didn’t get to see the BFF.
  • Tornado E came down with a fever on the way home and blamed the Friendly Giant for turning on the AC and making him sick.
  • I slept so very much.  Jane Eyre can’t be that boring.
  • Now that I think about it.  I should have bought more.  They have a website, right?

Off her meds

Me: Hi-

My Mom:  Did you get a hold of your father?!  Why didn’t you call right after I called?!  If he doesn’t buy it now, he won’t buy it at all!  I want that iPod!

Um, hi Mom.  How are you?  How was your nail appointment?  Guess what your grandsons are doing.

Breathe.

Me: I didn’t call right away because I was in the middle of making breakfast and scouring the kitchen.  Since you asked me to talk to Dad about your Christmas present, let me do it my way.  If he doesn’t get it today, there are other days.  If he doesn’t get it at all, you can buy it after Christmas.

My Mom: I need it for line dancing classes!

I think she growled.

Breathe.

Me: Ok, Mom.  I’ll take care of it.  How are-

My Mom:  I have to go.  I’m going to help your Grandma make pizzelles.  I’ll talk to you later.

Me: Ok.  I lo-

Click.

What the f-k was that?  I didn’t give a sh*t about her Christmas present.  She should have made a list weeks ago.  And if she wanted my help, then she should let me do it my way.

I dialed my cell phone.

My Dad: Hel-lo

Me: Hey.  I’m calling about Mom’s gift.  I was going to be sly and subtle and awesome, but she’s nagging and yelling.  She’s set on bitch-

It clicked.

The pieces all fit together.

The nagging.

The picking of fights.

Her need to dictate a solution for whatever problem I was facing.  Forcefully.

Expressing her every opinion about every subject.  Forcefully.

The last time I noticed this I told my dad, “She’s set on bitch.”  She overheard.  She was unhappy.  But it turns out she had gone off her antidepressants.

Crap.

Me: She’s off her meds.  Again.  Isn’t she?

My Dad: (sighs) Yes.

Me: Why?

My Dad: She hates taking so many pills.

Me: I get that.  But she can’t be happy this way.  She makes us miserable.  She’s miserable.  Doesn’t she see she has a problem?

My Dad: She does.  She just doesn’t want to take pills for the rest of her life.

Too late for that.

Me: Then she needs to see a therapist.

Silence.

That was the problem.  She wouldn’t.  And she would keep hurting, following dark paths that I had already traveled.  With any luck, she would never go as deep and dark as I did.  But I hurt for her.  She’s my mother.  She didn’t deserve to be in a dark place.  But she wouldn’t seek help.  She didn’t think “talking to someone” (said with a sneer) would help.

Me: So want to know what she wants for Christmas?

A late apology

“Hello?”

“Hi, Mom.  I’m sorry.”

“What for?”

“Remember the time I was about two, and I walked away from you and Dad when we were at the state fair, and you had to split up to find me, and a ten-year old girl found me and sat down with me to wait for you guys to find me, and Dad found me first, and you came with two huge, young security guards.  I’m sorry for that.

“I’m sorry for the time that I walked away from you at the county fair at two and half.”

“You walked away from us the next year after that.”

“Huh.  I don’t remember that.  I do remember walking away from you in Vegas at Circus Circus.  I’m sorry about that.”

“You were three.  We turned around, and you were gone.”

“You lost your contact.  I knew it was going to take a while, so I decided to go back and look at the doll I wanted.  But I’m sorry any ways.  I’m also sorry for all those times I walked away in stores.”

“The worse part is you never looked lost, so no one knew.  It was always hard to find you.  That’s why we trained you guys to come to the whistle.  If they had leashes, back then-”

“Harnesses, Mom.  Not leashes.  But I’m sorry.”

“So which kid did you lose?”

“Tornado S.”

Mama fears

My parents were beyond naive when they had me.  I was due in the beginning of August, and my parents made plans, saving money, researching destinations, for a vacation two weeks after my due date.  My mother’s doctor tried to squash the idea.  The only thing that did obliterate the plan was an emergency c-section.

With all that vacation money, my parents decided to go shopping.  They brought home a top of the line microwave.  That thing was so good and perfect, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you couldn’t cook a small turkey in it.  It was a prize possession.

Not long after they brought it home, maybe that week, maybe that night, my mom started having vicious nightmares.  Some psycho was going to break into the house and put her brand-new baby daughter in the microwave and cook her.  She eyed te device with a suspicious eye.  She checked all the locks of the house when she went to bed, bringing the big German shepherd into the bedroom to protect her and her baby at night.  My dad, unconcerned by my mom’s fear, humored her, locking the doors when he was home taking care of the child, patrolling by on his nights at work.  My mother’s fear was rational.  With every baby, the fear would grip her, until all her babies were too big for the microwave.  Only then did she laugh at such a strange fear.

As the oldest and only girl at my mom’s moms gatherings, I had a choice of playing violent army games that made me the evil queen or listening to the moms talk.  As I listened in on conversations I was no doubt to young to listen to, I learned the mysteries of motherhood.  Every woman had an irrational fear during that first year.  One that was so logical at first but years later was silly.  Strollers collapsing, escaping from cribs, getting into ovens, getting to a loaded gun, climbing out windows.  All irrational fears for mothers of babies.

So I was sure I would have mine.  I knew I had one.  For years I searched for what it was, but my fears seemed so rational.  SIDS.  Not hearing the baby at night.  The baby choking on something.  Someone sneaking in and taking the baby from the pac ‘n’ play downstairs as I did something upstairs.  (Ok, maybe that one wasn’t rational.  That was my mother’s idea.  I did start locking doors then.  And let’s not get started on her fear that someone was going to cut me open because they found my baby registry online {1. Like three women were killed that way months before I had Tornado E and 2. I didn’t have a baby registry online because my stalker had found out about my wedding through my wedding registry year before.  I wasn’t going to tae that chance.})

Then a few months ago, I became rational.  I had two completely-rational-at-the-time-but-really-irrational-fears.*  Boots and nail polish.

Before children, if it was cold enough for jeans, then I was wearing some sort of boot.  Usually my Docs.  If not them, then a pair of hiking boots.  I didn’t own tennis shoes.  I owned boots.  They were comfortable.  They could take wear and tear.  They were heavy, ass-kicking things.  They, along with my big feet and weight, could squash a little baby’s fingers.  I would have images of stepping on delicate fingers and hearing them crunch.  It broke my heart.  I gave up my boots.  I wore socks when it was cold, throwing on light slip-ons to go outside.  My Docs were put safely away for when it rained or to return to my life when little fingers were faster than my feet.

When I discovered blue nail polish in my teenage years, I was in love. I had blues, greens, purples.  Glitter, metallic, color-changing. In college, my nails were the envy of all my friends and my mother (“You can tell you don’t do housework.”  What housework is there to do in a dorm?).  One Halloween, I went as death and I sharpened my nails to points painting them black on top and red underneath.  When I started working, I still took the time to paint my nails.  (Not black though)  Then I had a baby.  I looked down at my chipped finger polish and wondered where it went as it flaked off.  On the floor, between cushions, into the dust, into the food, into my baby’s food, into my baby’s mouth as I dislodged him from my breast, into my baby’s nose when I cleaned it.  Oh my God, I wonder how much nail polish some could digest and DIE.  And he was so little.  So tiny.  All that poison going in to him.  I quit cold turkey.  I took off the polish and avoided the nail polish aisle.  If I walked passed a display, pushing my baby in a shopping cart, I would give a look, a mental “I’m sorry, but I’m a mother now.  I miss you.  Oh, look at that shade of blue.  With glitter!  Must move on.  For him.”  I put the nail polish in a box in a locked bathroom cabinet safe from little hungry mouths.

Early this year, I returned to my boots and my nail polish.  I thought it was a return to before as other things were shifting back to a before time.  I was right.  Partially.  But there was more.  As I pried a shiny bottle of nail polish out of Tornado A’s hand, remembering a time when Tornado E at his age had one in his hand that was not closed all the way, I tried to remember why I gave up my nail polish for so many years.  I had to avoid the cosmetic section not to bring a new one home.  Then I remembered.  And I remembered the boots.  And I smiled, kissing Tornado A on his head just as he threw his temper tantrum over his lost pretty.

*These fears have nothing to do with my crazy fears and thoughts when I was going through postpartum depression.  That is a whole other crazy ball which should not be taken lightly like these fears can.

Hide the boots

My mom is doing great.  She finished radiation a couple of weeks ago. (Let the people rejoice.)  She went to Vegas for a trade show.  She and my dad went to San Diego last week.  (Yea!)  She’s planning for the future.  She has her energy back.  She wants to start teaching country line dancing again.  (Horrah!)

Wait!  What? 

I support my mom in her decisions that make her happy and healthy.  She needs to get out and be with people.  She loves dancing, country music, and cowboy boots.  She’s a great, dedicated teacher. 

But she has to rebuild her class back.  Which means (deep  breath) I’m obligated to attend.  Sometimes it really sucks being the only girl.  Remember last time?  You know how I got out of it last time.  I got knocked up.  Sure, I had to put in a few months of time, but as soon as I grew weak with morning sickness (the only time I was thanfkful for morning sickness), I was off the hook.  And then I was too big.  And then I had a baby.  And I was happy not going.

Now, I have no excuse.  Just a mother who survived breast cancer.  Though morning sickness did get me out of it last time . . . .  No, that won’t work. 

But still . . . .

The dish

Me: . . . worried about heating food in a microwave.  As though it will contaminate food.  I’m like, dude, it’s a tool.  It’ll be fine.  I told him to figure out a solution.

I stood, chomping on grapes in a house I have known all my life.  The copper gelatin molds glistened from the wall near the ceiling.  The wine bottles, gathering dusk, waiting for the next generation of toddlers to christen the floor with them, were tucked under the breakfast bar that I spent my whole childhood kicking as I ate.  The fridge door was full of magnets with some bringing memories of creating intricate stories on the fridge as I waited for the rain to let up or receive another order on helping in the kitchen.

My grandma handed Tornado E back to me.  He tried to whack me with the shiny set of measuring spoons that I suspected were older than me. “Babies love measuring spoons.”

Grandma: Hold on a sec, Fae.

She pulled a stool over and climbed on it took look in an upper shelf next to the double oven.  She dug into the back of the cupboard.  I bounced Tornado E on my hip and gave him the names of all the things in the kitchen he pointed to.  “Sink.”  “Plate.”  “Plant.”  “Window.”  “Mixer.”  “Island.”

My grandma is a little, dark thing.  I out grew her at 11.  It was a rite of passage to look over her head.  My family is funny that way.

Grandma: Ah.  Here it is.

She pulled out a pink ceramic something and stepped down off the stool, placing the dish on the rolling island.  Tornado E and I peered at it.

Grandma: I got this when I had your Aunt D.  (She pulled off the white ceramic plugs with cork underneath the ceramic.)  You pour warm water in here.  And you place the food in the dish.  It’ll warm the food and keep it warm.  I fed your mother, your aunts, and your uncle with it. I fed each one of you kids (She meant my cousins, my brothers, and I.)  from it when you were over.  You can have it.  But don’t tell anyone.  I don’t want anyone to think I’m playing favorites.

My mom snorted as she walked into the room, hearing the last few lines.  She took Tornado E out of my arms.  I picked up the bowl, studying it.  A sense of history and honor ran through me.

My Mom: You’re not playing favorites.  You’re passing on a family heirloom to your eldest granddaughter.

But we all knew I was the favorite granddaughter.  I was older than the other granddaughter by a good ten years, plenty of time to establish my role by staying the night, sitting with them in church, “helping” my grandma cook, “helping” my grandpa fix cars.  I was the first of the family to attend a university, cementing my place at the grown-up table, passing an aunt, an uncle, and two older cousins. I was the first to present a legitimate grandchild and the first to have my child baptized in the family baptismal gown, passed down through four generations.  So, yeah, I’m the favorite.  I have plastic barrettes somewhere that say so.  Well, technically they say “Grandpa’s Girl” because my grandma couldn’t read the small writing very well.  But it suited my grandpa just fine.

I held the dish.

Me: Thank you, Grandma.  I’ll take good care of it. I really appreciate this.  It’s the perfect solution.

***

I held the dish.  Memories played in my head, first bites, first tries, hundreds of meals mixed together, trying to put just a couple more drops of formula in the food to hide it. Another generation fed from a serving dish.

I placed it on a high shelf, pushing it to the back, where it will wait for another baby.

For a six-year-old Fae

(Jane, I know this is late, but once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop and then I couldn’t blog a lot because . . . you  know . . . my own kids. But for you, Jane, because I love you.)

I’m six, and I like to swing.  Do you like to swing?  My Mommy is amazed that I can swing for hours making up songs and telling stories to nobody. But it’s not nobody. You’re here.  And so is Becky.  No one can see her, but I can.  She’s funny and smart and never shy and everyone likes her and she doesn’t talk funny like me.  Every Tuesday when school lets out early, we go for a picnic and then I have to go to a special school with just a teacher and me, and she makes me say all sorts of s words and all sorts of th words.  It’s ok. I like to color and talk to her.  But I wish we went to McDonald’s like all the other kids in my class, but Mommy says we don’t have the money, so we go to a park and have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with chips.  I don’t like chips.  I don’t like my brothers either.  I have two of them.  And it’s not fair. T got hurt the other day.  He took one of my toys from my desk and I chased him and Mommy was on the phone so she looked at us and pointed outside so I chased him outside and we ran around and around the swing set until we were on opposite sides of the two-seater with the benches.  T stuck out his tongue and threw the swing at me.  I ducked and it swung back and hit him on the head because he turned around.  That was stupid because it’s a swing and they always come back. And then he went crying to Mommy.  And Mommy yelled at me because there was lots and lots of blood and T stopped breathing for a little while.  But he was still walking, so how was I suppose to know he was hurt bad? We all had to go to the doctor and Mommy had to call the dis- dis- dispatcher.  Mommy had to call the dispatcher to tell Daddy to meet us at the doctor’s.  Daddy came in his uniform and his car but we weren’t allowed in it that day.  Daddy is a police officer. He looks handsome in his uniform, but he’s bulgy and hard when I hug him.  Mommy says Daddy has to wear a special vest so he is safe when he’s at work. I hope he is safe. He works at nights and he can be awfully grumpy.  But sometimes he comes home to eat and he brings Luke’s and we can smell the fries and so we get up and rub our eyes and go hug Daddy.  And he gives us fries!  When I grow up, I will eat at Luke’s too.  When I grow up, I’m going to be a princess.  I already have a princess bed with a canopy and it’s all pink because that’s what princesses like. And I have long hair like a princess.  Mommy says if I don’t cut it, she’ll grow her hair long too.  I like her hair long.  It’s pretty.  I wear dresses all the time.  At my school, I have to wear a skirt every day.  I can’t wear pants.  I like that, except when it’s cold.  Then my knees hit together because I can’t stop them. I can wear tights, but I get in trouble if I wear tights because I can’t keep them straight. Mommy told Grandma that I was six so what do they expect of course my tights were going to get messy.  I get in trouble for talking a lot too.  I can’t help it.  I have so many things to say. And I get in big trouble when we go to church and I talk, but church is so boring at school.  They won’t let me look at the books.  When I go to church with my family and I sit between Grandma and Grandpa, they let me look at books and then I can see the rivers that run through the words and I follow them.  And if I unfocus my eyes I can see through the coating on the wood of the pews and there is another world there.  It’s not fair that I can’t see The Mother when I go to church at school.  Grandma lets me. At school, I’m really good at religion.  But they tell me I can’t be a priest, which I don’t think it fair. God loves me. Why can’t I say the mass?  I can wear dresses like them. My teachers tell me I’ll be a writer.  I got Student of the week Twice!  For my stories! I like telling them, but they hard to write. I write real slow and I can’t get all the words out that are in my head. I tried to write like Mommy, all flowy and curly, but no one could read my writing.  I couldn’t remember what I wrote the week after.

What?!  Mommy?!

I’m coming!

Mommy and Daddy say I talk a lot. They tease me about it.  They tell everyone how when we went to Canada this summer that I went with Aunty Per and Aunty Alice.  They’re my Grandma’s sisters, and I don’t see them a lot.  Just once a year.  Aunty Per is the tall skinny one, and Aunty Alice is the fat one.  I love them.  Anyways, I got to go in their car for the day when we were driving to Canada.  M was with my parents, and T went with my grandparents.  They have a motor home!  And Aunty Per and Aunty Alice let me sit in front with them on a pillow so I could see out and they fed me cherries and red grapes. I love cherries, and I like red grapes but Mommy never buys them.  She only buys green grapes.  So I sat in front talking the whole time, telling them all about my friends and school and stories and Becky and Teddy who came with me. I dressed him up in his dress so he would look good.  They say the only time I was quiet was when I fell asleep.  That was eight hours of driving.  Aunty Alice said I never repeated myself once.  Why would I?  There’s so much to tell!  I was reading this book about a big ship that no one said would sink and then it did and-

I’m coming, Mommy!  I’m coming!

I have to go now.  Mommy said it’s dinner time and then I have to water the plants.  Mommy says I’m good with them because I tell them stories and listen to them. Once-

I’m coming!

I better go.  Bye.

The trouble with grandparents or the trouble with *my* parents

As we were leaving my parents’ house the other day, I noticed the storm had blown a huge piece of paper around my tire.  I picked it up and started walking towards the community garbage can, across the street and down the alley, passed two houses.  The boys were playing in the front yard with my parents were keeping an eye on them as well as pulling weeds.  I dumped the trash and started walking back.  I noticed the boys were playing on the corner, on the curb that flowed into the street.  Not a place I wanted my children.

Then I watched as Tornado A saw me and started into the street, only to be sidetracked by the giant puddle in the middle of the street.

“NO!  NO!  THE BABY!  THE BABY!  GET HIM!” I screamed.

I ran.

I ran as fast as I could,  but I was slowed down by my flip-flops and the soft mud.  A cold and sickening thought occurred to me as I ran.  I could see through the chain link fence on my left, through the school yard to the end of the street, but I couldn’t see to my right because of concrete backyard walls to see the other end of the street.  And I knew if a car came from that direction, I would be too late.  I pushed harder.

I watched my father stand up, take in the situation, walk into the street, and pick up Tornado A, carrying him back to safety.  All with a slowness that made me growl.

I ran across the street, glancing to make sure I wasn’t going to be hit by a car.

I opened my mouth as I stormed onto the sidewalk.

My dad (still holding Tornado A): Look at your Mommy!  I bet she hasn’t run like that since high school.  (He chuckled.  He f-ing chuckled.)  She was so worried.  There weren’t any cars coming, Fae.  I had it under control.

Me: YOU had it under control?!!! If YOU had it under control, my child would not have been in the street!!!  (I grabbed Tornado A out of his arms.)  What is wrong with you?! Haven’t you learned anything after three children?!  You are not going to watch my children again!

Do you know how hard it is to yell at someone who is taller, bigger, and more imposing than you?  He might be retired, but my Dad still has the aura of Cop hanging on him. Do you know how hard it is to yell at someone who was the imposing authority in your life for your childhood, one that held the balance of justice and law in the house?

I must have sounded like I was five years old, in pig tails and a pink dress, scolding my daddy for letting my Teddy get wet.

Because my Dad chuckled again.

My Dad: You don’t mean that.

I did what any sane parent would do in this situation.

Me: MOOOOOOOOM!

I called in the higher authority.

My Mom: T, keep a better eye on the boys.  Fae, your father knew what he was doing.

Yeah, knew what he was doing.  Right.  Three kids and he still acts sometimes like the stories of my babyhood.  Come to think of it, sometimes so does she.

My parents acted like they didn’t know a damn thing when it came to raising a baby.  When my Mom was pregnant with me, they went skiing.  The doctor told them no, but since he originally said yes, they went any ways. Thank God, it rained.  She refurnished a dresser for me, using paint stripper and white paint, while she was pregnant.  She used chemical oven cleaner while she was pregnant with me.  My dad insisted on doing my first diaper change and then proceeded to get poop all over every item on the cart, the cart, and me.  My Mom stuck to a strict four-hour feeding cycle, which would have been fine if I didn’t sleep through the night, and she ignored doctor’s orders to wake me up to feed me in the middle of the night.  (Now we all hate to wake sleeping babies, but I was nearly failure to thrive.)  No one will admit who held the door and who held me when a hotel door slammed on my head, causing “the most interesting shades of purple and red,” and then no one took me to the hospital.  My Dad was on watch when I did my first roll . . . off of the couch and into the corner of the coffee table.  Sure, I could swim before I could walk, but I also received my first sun burn before my first birthday.  I swallowed a tack.

Yup, my parents were child-raising geniuses.  I’d forgive them if they were teenagers.  They weren’t.  They got better though.  The only crazy thing my mom did while pregnant with my little brother was lie about her pregnancy to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland.

Maybe I should start looking for another sitter. . . .