My mom believes in a vengefully happy God. We would call it karma.
God was able to peer into our souls over the pettiest of things and bring about justice. He would reward good behavior with a surprised treat and punish us with some hurt or twist of bad luck. Lost items that were placed on the dresser in a messy room; cookies magically appearing from a bake sale when we actually had finished our homework and didn’t manage to fight. Really, it was like living with classic fae or brownies, magical helpers in a clean houses and vengeful sprites in a messy houses.
God punished us if my mom didn’t get to us first. It never failed that when someone got out of the fighting punishment because someone said “s/he started it” ( a cue that means Mom is going to lecture you about not fighting and turning the other check) the person sneaking off would run smack into a door, a wall, a coffee table. My mom would turn and say “God just got you back.” A tickling fight gone too far could leave someone with a sprained finger. A lie would be found out in the most innocent and ridiculous circumstances. A taunt could skin a knee. My brother ditched school to go play in the snow with friends and was returning with plenty of time and no one being wiser when his truck skid on a patch of ice, denting it and totaling the car in front of him, another high school ditcher. The one time I ditched in college, the professor surprised the class with a movie and popcorn. Damnit.
Of course, God also rewarded us. As a child I happily gave my quarter to the church, going to mass with my family and church with my Dad; then one day I found a five dollar bill in the church parking lot, which at six must have meant that God was rewarding me. My mom often told my brothers that it was a reward for going to church without complaining. The child who decided to go keep my parents company on an errand would return home with some random freebee give away from a store. On days when my brothers were especially sweet, they would unwrap their baseball cards and receive the players they were hoping for. It seemed magical.
But my childhood was dominated with the phrase “God just got you back.” Not that I believed my teenage acne was a plague from God because I refused to give my brother and his friends a ride to the movies or that my brother’s finger got crushed in the door closed by the very hand of God right after coming in my room and taking my doll. It was more of an understanding of basic karma what comes around, goes around. When you have three children actively trying to assassinate each other, karma seems to smack them on the ass quite a bit.
Along these lines my mom cursed us with “God will give you a child just like you, only the opposite sex so that you won’t know what to do.” I guess it was along the lines that we will receive a child that will make us miserable just as we had to our parents. After listening to Bill Cosby, I think that’s every child. But my mom was really thrown for a loop when she had a popular, cute, smart, sneaky, manipulative middle-child teenager that just happened to be a boy. Sure, I still believe he was her favorite, only because she could identify with the plight of having an older sister, but my brother really ran my parents ragged, flaunting his bad behavior in front of them. (Granted it could have been a lot worse.) Of course, I wonder what my goody-two shoes dad did to ever deserve to get my brother or, I guess, me. But lately I’ve been watching my boys, and I think I feel the hand of God moving around in here.
Take last night as Evan harassed Sean with enough gusto for me to yell “knock it off” but not enough to throw him in time out. Evan tripped on a toy that he left out and knocked his chin hard on the floor. Wow, impressive two for one God deal. I had to clamp my mouth close from saying “God just got you back.” This nearly a daily occurrence as Evan messes with Sean, who ignores him, and then Evan falls or runs into something. Now maybe he’s clumsy, but he isn’t. The kid could be a gymnast or a ballet performer (if I could convince his dad). It’s just weird.
What of the “I’ll have a kid just like me only the opposite sex” theory in my house?
Exhibit A. I’m quite talkative. Talking too much and talking someone’s ear off are just many of the special talents I have. Family legend holds that on a car trip at the age of five, I talked for eight hours, taking a break to nap, and never repeated a story. Now Evan talks all the time and comes up with the cleverest of stories. I guess that answers what a five year old could talk about for six hours.
Exhibit B. As a toddler, I would politely ask for something; upon refusal, I would stomp my foot and command, “But said please!” Now Sean says please for everything. “Peeease!!!!” It’s really adorable, but it won’t cut mustard when it comes to getting candy for breakfast, marshmallows for snack, or a quarter to play with. Then when I tell him no, he dissolves into tears, and I swear I can hear “but said please” behind the wails.
My boys are still young, so they can’t really cause too much trouble. But I see the potential. Of course, if my mother’s theory holds water, I will have a little hellion daughter coming soon to punish my husband for all his fast, slutty, partying days, and then I won’t know who to blame as I lock her in a convent.