Let me give you an example. Once, somewhere in the midst of his 2nd year of life, I made a roast for dinner. That night at the kitchen table, he sniffed and turned up his nose.
“I’m not eating roast,” he informed me. “I don’t like roast.”
From the moment I had become a mother, I’d sworn I wouldn’t become a cliché. But that day, out of frustration over a roast that I had worked so diligently on that my fingers had bled (total lie, but still, I’d defrosted the meat and thrown a bunch of other shit into the crockpot before pushing a button to cook it), I did. I became a damned cliché.
And not only did I become a cliché, but I happened to choose the oldest cliché in the book to transform into right before my young son’s huge brown eyes.
I told myself I wouldn’t say it. I.WOULDN’T.SAY.IT.
So why, then, did I find myself turning toward my 2.5-year-old son, plastic slotted spoon in my hand, to say this: “You know, there are kids in other countries who don’t have any food at all. They’re starving. And they’d love to have that roast. I wish there was a way I could pack it up and send it to them right now since you don’t appreciate it.”
Before I go on, I should mention that my oldest son is adopted from another country. And we’ve been very open about this with him from the moment that he came home at 6 months old--but unfortunately, I hadn't considered this fact at all when I'd sputtered my cliche.
He furrowed his little 2.5-year-old brow thoughtfully for a few moments, then looked at me sadly from his spot at the dinner table as he watched me put some vegetables from the crock pot onto his Elmo plate. “Mom,” he finally said, “do you think that the lady who carried me in her belly didn’t have enough food to eat? Was she from one of those countries that don’t have any food?”
Holy shit. HO-LEE sheot.
Other people? They get away with shit like clichés. But me? Not me. That’s what I get for trying.
So how did I fix it? With another cliché that I used to hear from my dad all the time: “Oh, I think that’s a conversation that we’ll save for your therapist…but we’ll wait until you’re an adult so you can pay for it yourself.”
But at least he ate the roast…although that could have had less to do with the conversation and more to do with the fruit snacks that I dangled in front of his face as he chewed as incentive for after dinner.
Then there was the time we were driving home from the gym after I’d pounded out 6 miles on the treadmill while he was playing in the daycare area. Just after discussing the rest of the day’s schedule, which included swimming and then lunch at the park, he piped up from the back seat with this precious little gem that I’ll never forget:
“Mom, you work out a LOT.”
I beamed with pride, the sweat on my face glowing sexily as I caught a glimpse of my bad self in the rearview mirror.
“You work out a LOT,” he said again, then paused. “But you’re still kinda fat.”
Suddenly, the sexy, glowing, healthy sweat on my face transformed into something more like a leftover burger residue glaze right before my very eyes. But still, I laughed out loud.
You see, I’ve been blessed with self-confidence out the wazoo—waaaaaay more than I deserve with a horseface like this, I understand. But still. It’s there.
I'm totally happy with my body, peeps, but to give you a frame of reference, I’m about 6’ tall and a size 10. And admittedly, I rock a pooch belly like a motherfcker.
I like to say it’s hereditary, but it could also possibly be from my pasta habit. I eat about 3 gallons of spaghetti noodles per evening as I’m watching DVR’d Real Housewives of Any City They’ll Give Me. I just go ahead and load those bitches up with a shitload of butter and eat them right out of an old ice cream tub. I figure it’s all good, right, because at least they’re not fried.
(Speaking of which, when are those lazy asshole scientists going to get on the ball and figure out how to fry a damned noodle? And I’m not talking about that fried Twinkie bullshit that you get from the county fair. I want the good stuff—a goddamned breaded, fried-in-the-Fry Daddy, crunchy, buttery noodle. Is that too much to ask?? I mean, if you can dodge a wrench, you can fry a noodle, right?...Oh, is that not the saying?)
The only time I got a little nervous about my noodle habit was when Kirstie Alley was promoting Fat Actress and said that she’d gained all of her weight as a result of her nightly diet of pasta noodles with a stick of butter added in.
Um, isn’t that what I just said—almost verbatim? Except I was complaining that my noodles weren’t fried.
Anyway, my kid called me fat. But as usual, he didn’t stop there. He likes to put thought into his comments, you see, because of that broad vocabulary comprehension that he somehow prematurely gained. I mean, seriously, you can be 3 years old and say, “Mama, I go pee on the potty,” or you can be 3 years old and say, “Mom, you’re kind of a fatass.”
When he clarified, then, it actually did make me feel a bit better, because he does choose his words carefully in order to be as concise as possible. “You’re not, like, way fat. Just your belly—like, around your waist. You know how sometimes you’re sitting on the couch and you can see some of it go over your belt? Like that.”
“Yeah, I get it. That’s great. Thanks, kiddo.”
I can’t remember exactly, but this might have been the point where I had to pull over and find a tissue—I keep them in one of the pockets of my car door for occasions just like this one—because the tears streaming down my face were getting in the way of my sight while I was driving.
Were they tears of laughter or tears of sadness at being called a whale by my own son? I don’t know. I didn’t explore it any further—except when I told three different groups of friends and co-workers about it that week and they all laughed so hysterically that they themselves cried.
“You’re all just jealous,” I muttered again and again.
“Of what?” one of them finally replied in between gasps of laughter, her face red like I imagine Satan’s would be. “Of your belly that hangs over your belt?”
“That’s ONLY WHEN I’M SITTING ON THE COUCH—and I SLUMP when I sit. I should have been tested for scoliosis when I was a kid!” I screamed over my shoulder as I ran from the room.
But I digress. Holy shit, how I digress.
And then there was the time, this past year just after he’d hit the ripe age of 5, that he informed his 2-year-old brother, who had shown no signs of anxiety over any such issue, not to worry because “I’m pretty sure the pumpkin patch isn’t government-owned, so it won’t be affected by the furlough. It should be open when we get there. Right, Dad?”
The point is, the boy knows his words. And he understands and uses them well.
So a couple of months ago, when I bought a chevron-printed skirt that a friend had sewn for her Etsy shop, I was more than a little surprised when I walked into the living room to model it for my family.
My 5-year-old glanced momentarily at me and then returned his gaze to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Just as quickly, however, he snapped his attention back to me in a confused double-take.
“What is that?” he asked.
“My new purchase,” I responded.
His little eyebrows came together as he looked more closely at me. “Yeah, I see that it’s new, but what’s it called?”
“Oh, the pattern? Chevron. It’s an old pattern—back in my day we called it zigzags—but it’s back in-style—"
“No,” my son said, still looking at me as he slowly rose from the couch and came to touch the fabric softly. “What’s this thing called that you have on your legs?”
“Um, a skirt?” I asked uncertainly.
My son nodded, taking this in. “A skirt,” he repeated softly, rolling the sound of the new word around on his tongue. “A skirt,” he said again, nodding his head as he filed it away for future use.
When I asked him how it could possibly be that he didn’t know the word for “skirt,” he told me, very simply, that I’d never worn one. To which I replied, “I’m sure I have…but maybe it was before you were born…”
It’s just that I favor capris, khakis, and, even more so, jeans. In fact, during a country music phase in college, George Strait’s “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,” began to play at a party and one of my friends smiled and told me that the song had always reminded him of me.
I don’t know what it is, peeps. I can never find them long enough, so perhaps there’s something about the way they lay just awkwardly short enough on my 6-ft-tall Amazonian legs that draws the attention away from my face and down to my ankles—thus making my nose look smaller.
Simply stated, I’ve found that jeans just work for me. (Why don’t I just “simply state” things from the get-go instead of all of this other blabbedy blabbedy bullshit? Your guess is as good as mine, my friend.)
At least I’m not a total plain Jane. I haven’t yet ventured into the butt-bedazzled kind, but otherwise, I’ll go with the trend. Flares, hipsters, boyfriend-cut, and right now, skinny jeans with a scarf—which, unfortunately, always seems to draw the eyes back up to the vicinity of my face, thus further highlighting this monstrosity I like to call a nose.
Ah, well, the scarf trend will pass, I’m sure.
And until it does, I can always go with a chevron “skirt.”