Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When Momma's Not Around, Keep the First-Aid Kit Handy

Hansel and Gretel’s momma wasn’t around and they went off to be baked into cookies by a witch.  Cinderella’s momma was dead, she was forced to do all the chores then try to find her own husband just to get out of that house.  And while Dorothy was left on the farm with Auntie Em, she was an old woman, she didn’t know what to do with that girl.  There’s always trouble when momma’s not around, but at least they don’t have to deal with the mom guilt when their kids get blown away in a tornado or fed poisoned apples.

What happens when Momma's not around (scene from The Wiz)

Here’s a typical scenario in my house.
Kid: Mom, can I ______ [fill in the blank with all kinds of requests – borrow the saw, make creme brulee with a blow torch, see what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar, use the bleach.]
Me: No. (walks off, crazily assuming that the kid will actually do as I say)
Next scene – possibility of options, in order of non-compliance:
(1)  Kid with a mop, trash bags
(2)  Contents of first-aid kit scattered across the kitchen counter as we realize everything that’s supposed to be in it is either expired, lost, or empty.
(3)  Everyone in the car on the way to the emergency neighborhood clinic

My response to either of the scenarios is the same, although I realize that they should differ, escalating in excitement and volume, along with the severity of the scenario. But it’s always the same and goes something like this: “What were you thinking?! Didn’t I say ‘no’! You could’ve killed yourself, blown up the house, or poked an eye out!”  Always those three possible outcomes.

I know a better mom would have a more sympathetic, lower in volume response. And at these times, looking at my frightened, injured child, I try to think “what would The Nanny say to do?” and then I figure she’d probably put the kid in time out or make a chart about their missteps.  So I try that.  Let’s talk about this rationally, I think.  I start off with a good mom phrase, “Dear, what were you trying to do?”  My kid begins with, “I was tryinta…”  Then The Nanny gets pushed aside and I return to, “that’s why I told you not to do it! You could’ve killed yourself, blown up the house or poked an eye out!”

This is the best I can do because the guilt of not watching them 24/7 hits me in the chest. The unnerving fear that they really could’ve done some serious damage to themselves tears at my heart.  Facing the ultimate mommy-fear that they could be taken out of my life in someway leaves me breathless and with the full knowledge that I would lose my remaining sanity.

And then I start thinking that maybe those evil witches were on to something and look for plans to build an impenetrable tower and hair growth serum.

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