Okay, I know that makes absolutely no sense since her youngest is only 27 years old, but still. It’s the only thing that can explain the reaction that she has in her old age to little things that her grandkids do.
Take, for example, what happened when I was visiting my hometown with my own two boys last summer. Mom, my brother GC, and I were at Dad’s house, where we had met up to get all of the little cousins ready to go swimming.
“Dear God!” Mom screamed. “Ava forgot her water wings. What do we do noooooow?!”
My brother and I stood watching, jaws dropped in shock, as Mom started spinning in frustrated circles and slapping herself in the face. Then we started laughing. My brother shrugged, walked out of the room, and returned with a pair of floaties that he had found in the bathroom. We gave Mom a few more minutes to spin and slap as we finished readying our kids for a fun day with Grams at the pool.
She had also seemed odd the day that I’d called to tell her that my kids and I were coming for that particular visit.
“But all the other little cousins will be here, too,” she said uncertainly.
“Yeah, Mom, I know. That’s why I’m bringing my kids to visit,” I explained slowly, sensing one of her old-person-around-a-bunch-of-wild-kids fits coming on.
“Kids—you mean you’re bringing both of them?” she asked. I thought I heard a sniffle in her voice.
“No, Mom,” I replied. “I’m planning to pop a DVD in on repeat play and leave the 2-year-old on the couch with some Cheetos for the weekend.”
There was an audible sigh on the other end of the line. “Oh, good,” Mom said, relief flooding her voice. “I mean, I’m sure he’ll be fine, right? Maybe leave him a bowl of water, too?”
Sure, and strict instructions for the Venus Fly Trap to keep a close eye on him.
The best, though, was what happened the day I arrived…the day of the aforementioned water wings incident.
My brother and I had just gotten Mom calmed down by having her practice deep breathing as we placed the water wings in front of her face in our homemade version of paper bag breathing. It worked; she smiled and shrugged it off. “Okay, kids, let’s go swimming!” she exclaimed, a fresh smile on her face.
All was well with the world until we got downstairs. We were at Dad’s house, and apparently Mom isn’t used to fancy newfangled items like automatic garage doors.
We walked out through the front door, and we noticed that the garage door had been left open after the kids had finished playing outside that morning. Mom was trying to do the responsible thing and close it. The problem was, though, that she didn’t know how.
She kept stepping inside the garage door, pushing the little button to close it, and then stepping out—thereby tripping the little laser sensor at the bottom, making the garage door stop and reverse its path to rise again.
And dammit, that garage door was pissing her off.
“Shit!” she said the first time, stepping back inside the garage door to hit the button again.
“Motherfcker!” she said the second time, shooting the garage door a mean look.
“GODDAMIT!” she said the third time, trying to kick it but missing since that asshole garage door was already on its way back up and she was too slow.
She continued wailing and cursing at the garage door in plain sight of her small grandchildren, I guess figuring that the no-cursing policy that she had followed around her own kids while they were growing up hadn’t worked, anyway, since out of the 5 of us, at least 3 of us employ fck as our favorite word. (Me! Me!)
Or perhaps she remembered that she’d had no such policy around her own kids and why start censoring herself now?
I tried to help, peeps. I seriously didn’t just stand there and watch and laugh. I kept trying to jump in.
“Mom, there’s a sensor—"
“Mom, just step over the—"
“Mom, you have to—"
“Mom, just reach your hand around while you keep your legs—"
Finally, I just doubled over and started laughing. Mom got even more pissed, because obviously it was my fault that she couldn’t stop cursing long enough to listen to my simple instructions about not tripping the sensor.
And then, as I continued to watch the show, I did the only logical thing: I called my older sister. Because there’s nothing we like better than a Mom story—especially in the midst of a Mom story.
I was gasping for air when my older sister answered the phone, but also keeping a close eye on Mom, who was watching me out of the corner of her narrowed, enraged eye, dangerously close to pummeling me for laughing too hard. It’s a careful dance, my peeps, and one that took several years for my brothers and sisters and I to get down to perfection.
The garage door was still going up and down in the background amidst Mom’s frustrated screams when I could finally catch my breath to talk to my older sister. “I don’t know if you’d laugh or want to kick her ass if you were here,” I said, still trying to catch my breath in all of the hilarity.
“What’s she doing?” my older sister asked, a mixture of smile and eyeroll in her voice. There was no need to explain; she knew it had to be a Mom story.
“She can’t get the garage door to close,” I said simply. “Dammit, I wish I wasn’t such a techno-dumbass and knew how to 3-way to get little sis on the phone to hear this,” I said before holding the phone at arm’s length—while still watching to make sure Mom wouldn’t turn on me—so that my older sister could hear what was going on.
But dammit, I’d called too late. There wasn’t anything left to hear, as Mom had now given up. She was simply standing a few feet away from the half-open garage door, arm straight out in front of her, flipping it off.
I hung up with my sister, explaining that I needed to snap a pic and that I’d text it to her in a few minutes.
I didn’t get that far, though, because when Mom started screaming “WATER WINGS!” and banging her head against the driveway, my brother and I decided it was time to intervene. I really didn’t want to reward her odd behavior, but I also didn’t need my kids witnessing any more of this shit. Seriously, peeps, I don’t need to be giving them any more tantrum ideas.
So after I shot a quick video to send in a mass text to the rest of my family and a few of my close friends, I reached my arm—only my arm—around the garage door, hit the little button, and watched the door descend slowly.
Mom looked up in awe, tears of pride in her eyes. “I knew I did something right when I raised you, Shay. My little girl genius.”
I only wished I hadn’t stopped recording. I’d totally missed that last bit about the girl genius.
Thanks for stopping by to read my stuff this week, peeps, and if you missed it, Monday I guest-posted on Dani's new series, Priceless Mom Moments, at Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine. Just click the image below and it'll take you right to my post if you're up for a little extra reading this week. Thanks!