by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion
“Mommy, what’s reptile dysfunction?”
“A crocodile with a limp, honey.”
From the very beginning, some of the most “interesting” words have come out of my daughter’s mouth. Even at one month old, at her baptism, the church was completely quiet as the Reverend announced, “Let us Pray.“ In that moment of pure peace, the joy of my life let go of a belch that would make Homer Simpson proud. And, that’s when the laughter began.
Ah…children. The joy of that little tyke is indescribable. Just ask any parent. And, with the joy comes that ‘unknown factor,’ which can offer a parent everything from fear to inspiration. We are raised by loving parents to hold our tongues in public (not me, apparently…and I think Lady GaGa is out.) We are taught to slip on that mask and hold in our sarcastic comments. Such as, when we sit at our desks and DON’T tell our boss that he’s an idiot yet, we DO tell our neighbors that the porcelain toilet seat holding flowers on their front lawn is art We TRY not to tell our best friend that even though her true love can fart and burp the alphabet at the same time, it doesn’t make him a Nobel Prize winner. Although, let’s face it, this talent could soon end up to be the only necessary requirement to become President.
But when we’re kids…we’re free. We’re free to say anything to anyone as long as we keep that angelic smile glued to our face. Even bitter, old hags have to pat us on the head. God was kind enough to grant me my very own angelic creation. In fact, I have a feeling He held a meeting to make sure that just the right soul was selected to be sent down for payback…answering my own beloved mother’s prayer: “I hope someday you have a child who acts JUST like you!” (I’ve tried to find that in the Bible…I KNOW it’s got to be there.)
My angelic babe is now an adult with a slightly dry, sarcastic tone - where she got that from I have no idea! But once upon a time, as she and I whisked our way across the country, she never failed to deliver the lines that almost got me killed on a number of occasions. And even though her angelic smile was always firmly in place, that glint in her deep, brown eyes led me to believe that she knew EXACTLY what she was doing. My mother’s prayer had been answered.
Location 1: Graceland. My daughter loved running around that huge hall of gift shops, and boarding that bus that led through the famous gates adorned with musical notes. We put the headphones on and the tour began, as we drove up to the lovely white home with columns out front. (I swear the person who invented headphone tours is laughing their butt off right now.) Entering into that horrific living room, my daughter began to shout: “So where is HE? Where’s Elvis?” Those around us smiled, but the look of those women dressed to the nines in high heels and short skirts - as if The King, himself, were upstairs just waiting to descend and pick one of them from the line-up - mirrored that of the Devil. It was if this child screaming was destroying their greatest fantasy. I tapped my daughter on the shoulder and told her to ‘shush.’ But it was no use. “Maybe he’s upstairs!” Bolting toward the staircase which was roped off, (Let’s face it, putting a rope in front of a child is like putting saran wrap in front of Jaws), I ran after her. She shouted over the recorders, “Well? Where IS this guy?” Mommy was hot. Mommy was tired. And, quite frankly, Mommy was an Aerosmith fan “He’s dead! He was an idiot, took drugs and killed himself! Okay!?” If the world had gone dark at that moment, or an army of policemen had raced up the driveway to arrest me for indecency, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But my daughter just smiled at me and ran in the other direction. “What’s the big deal, then? It’s just a house. What’s a peanut-butter and banana sandwich, anyway?” We raced from that building before I was shot through the neck by a flying stiletto.
Location 2: Dallas Cowboys Stadium. As a longtime football fan, it was kind of cool to see the inside of this ‘hole-in-the-roof‘ monument, even though I was venturing into enemy territory. Once again the headphones were put on and the great Tom Landry began to speak. My daughter’s strong ‘pipes’ once again interrupted the show. “But Mommy? You HATE the Cowboys! You’re a ‘Niners fan!” (This announcement was made after my team had come to the Lone Star State and wiped the floor with the Cowboys.) I have to say, even though we were in an almost land-locked state, my death by water-boarding looked like it was about to begin.
Location 3: The Living Room. I came from the bathroom after washing my hair and the phone rang. “This is 911. Are you okay, ma’am?” “Of course,” I replied. “What’s the matter?” “Well…a little girl just dialed from that house.” I looked down at Shelby who just shrugged her shoulders. “I just wanted to talk to Officer Dan.” “Who’s Officer Dan?” Shelby pointed at the TV. Sure enough, Officer Dan was hosting the Cartoon Network, letting everyone know that if they ever needed him, all they had to do was call him up at 911 for a chat. I was then given a lecture on how the number was for emergency use only and I could go to jail if we dialed for no reason. Duh! You’re the ones who are giving out his number!
Location 4: Blockbuster. “Mom, can I see this movie?” I look down at the horrific cover with the scary mask and bloody axe. “No, honey. That’s a bad movie.” My daughter’s little friend asks, “What’s a bad movie?” My dear, sweet angel simply says - in as loud a voice as possible - “They say h*ll, d*mn, and sh*t.” There was a woman who looked a great deal like a nun at Blockbuster that day, and I was suddenly in the cast of Deliverance.
One day we were traveling and had to stop for gas. I was standing in line behind a tall gentleman in a nice suit, when the woman behind the counter told him they were out of gas; the trucks hadn’t arrived yet. He left and I turned to follow. The woman asked me what I needed. “Don’t worry about it,” I replied. “Just needed gas.” She rolled her eyes and started to laugh out loud with her friend. “Well, we have gas for you!” I looked down at my daughter, wondering who died and made me Queen. “Huh?” I replied. “We don’t have gas for them.” I couldn’t figure out what she meant. No gas for businessmen? She lost a lot of money in the stock market and now hated anyone wearing a suit? Then it dawned on me. My daughter and I went back to the car and drove away. We spoke about the fact that Mommy was mad. It was the 1990’s, and being turned down for service because of skin color was something that happened far before my time. But it still existed. Even now, my daughter and I see it in a brand new place.
The point is this. Even though there have been some moments where my daughter‘s words could‘ve landed me in traction, we’ve grown up together. We’ve faced morons, and seen the good and bad in life. And, luckily enough, my daughter still has the kindest heart (and VERY strong voice at VERY interesting times). We taught each other that humor was okay. That having an opinion was okay. As long as you speak the truth and aren’t just slamming others, it is definitely okay to ask questions, keep an open mind, and have a laugh or two. As long as it’s NOT at someone else’s expense!
Next Week: You Shall Love No Other God But Me!…Love, Mom.