Category Archives: Mean Mommy’s Memoir

The boy and the doll (brother and sister superheroes) take on the world

hello out there…

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Hello friends, long time no write. I’ve tried, but haven’t been able to reach a point where I enjoy my own writing again. But I have some news to share… so hopefully this will be readable.

First off, only because this news just happened, my doll scored well enough on the college board exam for American US history, to pass and earn a college credit; while still in high school. She’s been counting down the days since she took the exam in early May and frankly, I’m happy she passed as well. “How well did you score?” I asked over the phone. “A three…” she replied, through actual tears of joy. “I’m so glad, I thought I had received a two…” she added. “What happened if you received a two?” I wondered. “I would have failed”. She explained. “I thought I did ‘4’ worthy work, but I’m so happy I passed I don’t care by how much or how little…” She added.  “Well, I’m just happy that’s over…” I replied only to be reminded, “Mom I’m taking two AP courses this year…”

“Good Lord…”

Now to the bigger news… after a year of having autonomy at a college three and a half hours away, the boy will be attending my alma mater in the fall. That’s right, The University of Toledo just accepted his transfer from Muskingum to attend fall classes. To say the boy is happy about this is a ((((HUGE)))) understatement.

So, what happened? Money; or rather, the lack there of. The boy began last fall with about $28,000 in scholarships. Over the course of the year, he changed majors and lost about $8000 in scholarships. At the same time, he was unable to find new scholarships that would make up the difference. As such, he would have had to take out loans for about $16,000 to attend this fall. In contrast, by attending the University of Toledo, he’ll live at home, have access to a car and as I’ve told him, can use his bedroom as a dorm-room, provided he treat his parents with respect aka, come in at decent hours or at the very least keep in contact with us.

So this is where he stands… not happy, but resigned to what has happened. The good news being, he liked the campus when he took the tour and excited to get back into the swing of “school”… primarily to keep me from bothering him to find a job every day–or so he believes.

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a hairy moth….

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This morning following my daily drop off of the doll at school, I heard an advertisement on NPR, concerning a “Moth” competition taking place tonight in Ann Arbor. As Doug Tribou, the morning announcer read where one could still purchase tickets to as well as the local; I remembered attending my first Moth show with two of my older brothers, and their wives; wondering if I could produce some nerve to get up on stage in front of a bunch of 100 or more strangers and tell a true story–out loud. “The subject is “Hair” Doug relayed, before moving onto the next advertisement.

Hair… I ruminated for a few minutes and wondering what I could say, I began telling myself a story, out loud on the drive home…  I am not attending the show tonight in Ann Arbor, as there are too many other things in my path tonight. But I did write a story that I think could have been told, if…I had the nerve, drive and transportation to the show. Tell me what you think.

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Moth Show Subject: Hair

Time allotted to tell story: 5 minutes…

and Go…

 

There is a song written and sung by the Indigo Girls named Virginia Woolf, about a young girl who reads Virginia Woolf’s diary and finds a connection to what she had written about herself and the girl. She says, “It’s like I found a telephone line through time…” I always liked that line and wondered if I would ever find something that could resonate in me the same way.

About ten years ago, when my dad was 86 and his older sister, Rosemary was 95, her family set up a date with my dad to talk about “old” times. My Aunt who was in the process of moving from an assisted living into a fulltime care facility; was afraid some of her families keepsakes would be lost in the move. So between my cousins and my siblings, we set up video cameras and recorded their meeting as together they reminisced about their parents, grandparents and siblings who were had already passed away.

The keepsakes were kept in an old brown cardboard box, which looked as if it had seen better days. The contents kept within, were weathered with age and of no real value, except to those who could attach memories and meanings to them. A photograph here, a signet ring there, a bag of hair… A bag of hair? I thought as I reached in a pulled it out. My first thought was, “Gross!!” mainly because this bag contained not just a clipping or a small lock of hair, but rather, a somewhat large pony tail wad of hair. “Why would anyone keep this?” I thought as I held that bag in my hand.

My Aunt Rosie, noticing the curious look upon my face said in a matter of fact way, “That’s Margie’s hair…”

Margie, my dad’s older sister, passed away from a brain tumor shortly after His fourth birthday and over the years had been made a saint in the eyes of her parents and remaining siblings. My grandmother, who had lost three children to still births with no visible reminder, save the pain of the loss, was given her hair by the doctor as a visceral reminder her daughter had lived in the world and was loved and would remain forever in their hearts–even if there were times when they couldn’t bring themselves to talk about her in grief. Yet, they still had a physical reminder/relic if you will,  to help quell their grief.

So I’m holding this bag of hair and curiosity gets the best of me and I open and pull a few strands out. Immediately I am overwhelmed by the texture and true color the hair conveys. Then that line for the Indigo Girls song runs through my head, because like a telephone line through time, I am able to connect to a girl who passed away 80 years before. You see the hair, was fine in nature and the same color red as my six year old daughter.  My aunt Rosie then replied, ‘Your daughter’s hair color reminds me of her…” and I am suddenly blown away by a bag of hair.

Thank you.

 

 

 

Snippet…

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On a beautiful Saturday morning, I was lying in bed reading the day’s news when my cell phone rang. “Hi Mom…” came a tearful voice on the other end. Amused that she called me I replied, “Hi Doll, what’s up?” Then she explained, through heavy sighs and tears, she somehow, unintentionally cut her hair. “I was laying in bed thinking about what I needed to do for homework and decided to cut out the picture for the front of my art journal. But somehow, inexplicably, I cut my hair too…” “How did you do that?” I asked and sounding very much like a crying Mary Richards she replied, “I don’t know!! I guess I was leaning over the photo when I began cutting and then all of a sudden I noticed my (cut) hair on the page”.

Trying not to laugh through the receiver I replied, “Why don’t you come upstairs so I can take a look,” to which she responded, “You’re at home?” “Yep,” I replied and a moment later she was sitting on my bed, leaning into a hug, as tears rolled down her face.

“It doesn’t look that bad…” I tried, but her tears could not be quelled. “Let’s get dressed. I’ll take you over to a chop shop and they’ll clean you right up.” I suggested and a minute later, after wiping the many tears from her face, we both began to dress for the day.

About thirty minutes later, she sat in the hairdressers chair and implored the woman to not cut anymore than she absolutely needed to; to fix the problem and remove split ends. “Honey, this ain’t nothing,” the woman said, “I’ve seen worst kids mistakes with scissors than you’ll ever know,” which went a long way to reassure my Doll. Less than five minutes and $15 later, we walked back to the car, happy that her inadvertent cuts weren’t really all that bad. “She framed your face really well..” I tried. Nodding, she added, you know she only took about a quarter inch off, but it feels like she took more.” “For the love of…Doll, just chill, your hair looks fine and what’s more, how many people complimented on the color of your hair?” She smiled as this has become common practice every time she has her hair done. “Okay…” She nodded, counting her blessings along the way.

Later she approached and told me she found her “cut” hair in the bed. “Are you keeping it as a reminder?” I asked . Quizzically looking back at me she replied,”A reminder?” “Yes,” I began, “A reminder that you are not allowed to use scissors first thing in bed because of your propensity for accidentally cutting your own hair.” Sheepishly she replied, “No, I threw it away and have made a mental note to myself to never use scissors when I’m really still sleeping”.

Driving with the brakes on…

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When was the last time you drove through a cemetery with a wide broad smile?

Now that the doll has her temporary permit to drive, don’t you know she’s asking every minute if we can take her driving. Her father has taught her how to back into and out of a parking spot, while I taught her how to pull into and back out from a parking space at a local park.

But all this occurred after I drove into a local cemetery and gave her permission to drive, though not without some careful instructions and considerations about the task she was undertaking.

“Okay, so the speed limit is 15 miles per hour, which is fast enough to learn how to make turns and stuff, but not fast enough to get us killed; okay?” I said to her and then began to instruct her on how to drive the car. “Before we begin, make sure your mirrors are in the right position, then when you’re ready, put your foot on the break, then put the car in gear and slowly remove your foot from the break and place easily on the gas pedal,” I explained. “Which one is the gas pedal?” she asked nervously. I stared back at her for a moment before realizing she was kidding me…at least that’s what I hoped.

After making all the window checks and waiting for any possible cemetery visitor to put distance between us, she eased the car into drive and began to do just that. I tried not to be the overbearing parent I was with her brother, primarily because that served no purpose for either of us. “Now doll, the speed limit here is 15 miles per hour, so pay attention to your speed,” I noted and she did the same. Three times she drove slowly through the cemetery, making small talk along the way, “This is better than Cadillac cars at Cedar Point (amusement park)” she laughed. “Yes. Tell me, does it feel like your are speeding?” “Yes…” She remarked.

“Okay doll, now this time, when you make that left turn, I want you to use the turn signal,” I said. “The turn signal?” She asked. “Yes, the turn signal. Use it…” I replied a little surprised by her reaction. Slowly she drove down the road and then freaked out when it came time to  hit the signal. “I can’t do both,” She said. “Doll, the turn signal is going to become rote memory real quick, you won’t even think about it, but right now, you need to use and get use to using it,” I  said as she drove a little further. All in all she did very well; a wide broad smile covering most of her face. Later she remarked, “You know, when you drive 20 miles per hour, it feels like we’re barely moving, but when I’m driving 20, it feels like we’re racing down the road”. “Yeah, it’ll change once we let you drive on the actual road…” and she nodded.

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Now I wouldn’t be the Mean Mommy I’ve built my reputation upon, if I didn’t tell you about one small mishap she had, while we were driving. Inside the cemetery, there are two large ponds. As she came around one pond, she decided (too late) to make a left hand turn, doubling back toward that pond. Since her turn was late, she almost took out a grave post/marker. Trying to correct the situation, she overcorrected the turn and had the hard heading right toward the pond. As she tried to bring the car to a stop, instead of using her foot on the break, she tried to throw the car into park, which, as you know, is a huge no, no. “Doll!!” I shouted, “Put your foot on the break!” Which, thank goodness she did, and the car came to a stop. “Now, put the car into park!” I said and she did. “Never, ever, throw the car into park, while it’s still moving, otherwise you’ll drop/strip the transmission and then we’ll both be screwed and walking home,” I explained, trying desperately not to yell at her as I did so. “Oh, sorry…” She replied, before adding, “But the good news is, we didn’t land in the pond…” She said with a half smile.

“True, very true…” I replied, “Now, let’s try that turn again, this time making the decision to turn earlier, okay?” I asked, she smiled and she tried the turn again, to a better result this time.

the tears of a teenaged doll…

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There are few things, other than sitting inside the DMV for a few hours, that illicit such feelings of dread. A necessary evil; describes this place best, especially when only one branch in the entire county handles all driver and temporary license issues. A whole swath a humanity comes through those doors and for better or worse, don’t you know, the stinkiest ones without fail tend to sit next to me.

I looked up at the welcome distraction; my doll standing next to my chair holding the driving manual. “Mom, we have to go…” She said. “Oh, okay,” I replied, a welcomed respite from the ghastly odor that kept assaulting my senses. Gathering my belongings, I stood and headed to the next line to stand in, when my doll said, “No, I failed the test and we have to come back later,” she explained. “When?” I asked, hoping by then that stinky person would be gone. “Tomorrow,” she said, and unhappily headed toward the exit. “Tomorrow?” I griped, knowing the last thing I wanted to do was spend another day waiting at the DMV. “Mom, stop making this harder than it already is…” She complained and began to cry as we approached the car. “You’d be complaining too, if you sat next to that stinky person,” I replied, getting into the car and then tried to console-not lecture my doll on her lackadaisical study habits.

“That test was dumb!” She said in anger. “Dumb or not, you need to pass in order to drive…” I said which went over like a led balloon. “Why did they have a question on bicycles? I mean, really, what does a bike have to do with a car?” I sat quietly, not wanting to get yelled at again for my reply. But then she looked over at me and said, “That wasn’t a rhetorical question”. “Damn, I can’t win for losing”, I thought. “Bicycles are not supposed to be ridden on the sidewalks. So you need to know their laws, so you don’t infringe upon them, while driving,” I answered, she grunted unhappily and wallowed a little longer in self pity.

“Ah, the tears of a teenaged doll” played in my head to the tune of “Tears of a Clown”, by Smokey Robinson, but again, gaining wisdom in my elder years, I kept my mouth shut.

The next day, Mrs. K graciously accompanied the doll and I back to the DMV where once again, we were confronted by a swath of humanity. “Why are there so many people here?” Mrs. K wondered. “This particular bureau handles the driver tests, as well as other normal licenses, so its always crowded,” I replied. “Am I here to renew my license?” She asked. “No, you’re here to help pray my doll passes the test this time, so I don’t have to come back here for another six months…” I said, and she immediately made the sign of the cross. Twenty minutes later, my doll appeared, much happier than the day before, almost jumping up and down. “I guess you passed this time?” I asked with a grin. “Yes, Woo, I’m so excited…” She replied as we moved to stand in the next line to pay for the test and license.

Twenty minutes later, as we walked out to the car with her newly minted temporary driver’s license she jokingly asked, “Can I drive home?” Looking back at her I replied, “Sure…” and held the keys out for her to grab. She stopped, split her time looking first at my face and then at the keys dangling from my hand and asked, “Are you serious?” as she took a tentative step toward me. “Absolutely not,” I said, gathering the keys up in my palm and helping Mrs. K to the car. “You’re mean,” She said, but smiled as she said it. “Considering, you’ve never been behind the wheels of a car, I think I’m being quite reasonable”. I replied and she reluctantly agreed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An embarrassing moment in history…

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I found myself standing next to an older woman holding a hand written sign that read, “And a child shall lead them,” Isiah 11:6″; as we listened to teenagers talk to the crowd about their loathe of lockdown and active shooter drills practiced in their schools. “Is this your first protest?” She asked. “Yes, I brought my daughter down here to participate…” I said pointing in my doll’s direction, “She’s a sophomore in high school this year,” I added. “Oh, I bet she’s excited about this rally…?” She asked. “Well…” I began and then laughed, “She’s a little embarrassed by it all, really, because that’s the kind of kid she is. She’s not used to this overt protestation of an issue. But I felt this was important for her to experience the power her generation holds and have a memory as well, to look back and remember how she used her voice to help bring forth change,” I replied. The woman looked back at my doll and remarked, “She’ll get it,” she paused then added, “my grandchildren are a little embarrassed their old Grammy is out here holding a sign as well”.

A minute later, my doll tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I’m going up front,” then grabbed our sign and followed some friends closer to the stage. The woman looked back at me and said, “Apparently that embarrassment has worn off…” and we both smiled.

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Hey, guess what?” I said to my daughter Sunday morning, pulling her from her slumber. “Not only is it time to get up for Mass, but guess who’s on the front page of today’s paper?” She grunted, rolled over and replied, “Don’t care,” then tried to go back to sleep. “Regardless, it’s time to get up for church,” I said and exited the room to a loud groan of disagreement.

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Since then, she’s received a wide array of congratulations and “I’m proud of you”, from extended family members and friends. “I don’t get it,” She relayed to me. “What, that people are proud of you?” “Yeah, I mean, I understand how neat it would be to see fabulous me on the front page of the newspaper, but, why are they “proud” of me for being there?” She wondered. “Because not everyone gets off their duff and actually protests. Many people talk a good game, but never back up their convictions with action,” I replied, paused and then added, in addition, the sign you were holding was very powerful.” She nodded in agreement adding, “True. Okay,” which drew the conversation to a close.

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The sign she held at the March Of Our Lives-NWOhio March, came to us via Denise Culkowski, who planned on joining us but found herself ill with a sinus infection and offered the poster for us to carry for her. Thank you Denise.

Let’s hear it for the girl….

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Sitting in the stands, over looking the field, I felt horrible for my doll. There she stood as the dwindling seconds of the second half drew to a close, having not been given play time during the game. After a brief team meeting following the game, her body language as she approached, carried all her disappointment.”My hands are freezing off…” She said; which prompted me to hand her my gloves as we made our walk to the car. “I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to play…” She said, not sure if she was talking to us or herself. “I hear ya doll… but remember, this is your first year and, while you learn, you’re helping your teammates become a better team,” I said, hoping this was the magic elixir she needed. Lifting her head she replied, “Yeah, I know…but, it still kinda sucks”.

Two weeks before Christmas break last year, she began conditioning her body to withstand an hour of constant running up and down a Lacrosse field (slightly larger soccer field).  Every day, she would arrive home from practice, find something to eat, plop herself down onto the couch and crash for a few hours, before waking to start her homework, before bedtime. Along the way she discovered her left arch was so high, she experienced tendinitis. Determined to play, she fought back with exercises, advice, a good ankle wrap and shear perseverance on her part.

During yesterday’s game she made a ten minute appearance in the first half and though she wasn’t in on much of the action, she made an impression on her coach as someone who knew what they were doing. Afterward she complained, “My hands are freezing,” which again, prompted me to hand her my gloves, once more. This time however, no pep talk was necessary. She knows her worth on the team now.

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In addition to going out of her comfort zone and playing a sport this year, my Doll also submitted her artwork (Plumo Bloom) into the Northwest Ohio Congressional District art competition. Though her work did not earn an award, her piece is on display inside the Fifth Third Center at One Seagate, downtown Toledo until April 4th before traveling to Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, where it will be exhibited until mid May.

Interesting note, Plumo Bloom, bottom right, was displayed upside down. My Doll wasn’t sure if it was her teacher’s mistake or the sponsors. Needless to say, her painting is quite versatile.

In addition to having her artwork displayed, she also had the opportunity to meet our congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur, the only woman to hold a congressional seat for 35 years. My Doll was quite impressed to represent her school and meet such an impressive woman.