Monday, July 16, 2018

Who'd Be A Mother?


[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published July 18, 2018] ©2018

A friend sent this email: “Ethan totally disgraced me in the Easter play at nursery school. He refused to be a raindrop, didn’t sing any of the songs or play his musical instrument or participate in it any way – all of which I could easily accept.  What mortified me was that he sat on the stage and picked his nose – and ATE it – all through the play!  Afterward he demanded chocolate to celebrate having been in a play!  Who’d be a mother?”

Who indeed? It’s probably a really good thing we can’t see into the future.  Otherwise, we’d probably never have children if we knew we’d have moments like this:

Leaving a 75% tip after your toddler throws up in the antipasti plate at the upscale Italian restaurant.

Buying an entire display of out-of-season organic tomatoes after your five-year-old pokes holes in them with a caramel apple stick.

Going to the school open house and noticing that your son’s contribution to the display of illustrated alliterative sentences is “Paco the pimp pestered the picky prostitutes.”

Taking an entire afternoon off work to sort through several hundred totally disgusting lunch bags in the dumpster at your child’s elementary school to find the $200 retainer he accidentally threw out that you, as a single mom, cannot afford to replace.

After his first day at his seemingly wonderful new school, your child responds to the friendly greeting of the supermarket checkout clerk with “Shine it, bitch!” 

Going to your friends’ home for dinner and one of your kids says, “Look, Henry!  Real plates! And it’s not even Christmas!”

You go to brush your teeth and find the toothpaste, minus the top, floating in the toilet. 

Your three-year-old, who has serious speech problems secondary to hearing issues, tells people that when he grows up, he wants to be a “f—k diver” (truck driver).

Your 4-year-old announces he wants to be pregnant for Halloween.

Your five-year-old spray paints every inch of his three-year-old brother silver. Pediatrician recommends soaking child in bathtub in “several gallons” of baby oil (which come in 15-ounce containers).  You buy out the entire baby oil stock of five drug stores, silver three-year-old in tow.

Your pre-teen sons and their two tweener cousins draw pubic hair on female cousin’s Barbie doll sparking International Incident.

 Your non-athletic child is playing goal in youth soccer.  When the other team comes charging down the field with the ball, he has his back to the field and his fingers hopelessly entangled in the net. Goal is scored, game is lost, other parents query loudly why “some kids” are on the team.

Your kids get you an extra-large wine glass engraved with “Mom” for Christmas.

You don’t want to confess to your college-bound son that Mom’s “secret” chocolate chip cookie recipe all those years was Pillsbury Slice n’ Bake.

During final exam week at college, your son ignores an oil leak under his car which ultimately ignites in the unseasonably hot weather, burning his car and the one next to it in the parking lot to the ground. It also melts the asphalt underneath.  It never occurred to you to buy asphalt insurance. 

My friends, of course, have their own stories they’ve shared over the years: 

From a friend, potty-training her two-year-old: “I was sure Laura was right beside me in the bathroom fixtures display room only to turn and see her proudly pooping in one of the display toilets.  I will never leave home without a full packet of tissues again!”

From my neighbor: “Another mother and I were summoned to the counselor’s office at Muirlands (Middle School) after our sons were caught writing an obscene note.  The counselor showed us the note, pointing to a word beginning with “k”.  ‘Geesh,’ she said, shaking her head, “Don’t these kids even know how to spell ‘c--t’?’” 

Another neighbor, whose son was a kindergartener at Evans School, was called to pick him up for the third time that week after misbehavior on the playground.  Seeing that Mom was totally at her wits end with him, he patted her arm and advised, “You should draw a palm tree.” 

Another friend tells the story of her extended family renting a large passenger van to take them up to a weekend retreat in the mountains. On the way up the steep road, they went over a large bump. From the back of the van came the voice of her five-year-old addressing her father who was driving.  “Jesus Christ, Perry!  You almost made me spill my drink!”

From my daughter-in-law’s mother: “The kids wanted pets when they were little and since both parents worked, we got each of them a male hamster for Christmas. Except that a week later, one of the “male” hamsters gave birth to 12 baby hamsters.  Which the other male hamster ate. In front of the kids.”

Yes, who would be a mother indeed?


One year my kids gave me a wine glass 
engraved with "Mom" for Christmas

Monday, July 2, 2018

A Matter of (Bad) Taste


[“Let Inga Tell You, La Jolla Light, published July 4, 2018]  ©2018

Olof and I are compatible in so many ways, but not in books and movies.  Or more specifically, movies made out of books.  Olof loves fantasy stuff – Harry Potter (he’s read all of them twice), Lord of the Rings, Star Wars.  Me, I can’t figure out how the actors keep a straight face while filming them; they just seem so hokey.  For years, it always seemed like there was a Christmas release of one of the above series, and as a demonstration of my love for Olof, I always bought two tickets for him for Christmas.

Unfortunately, I could never find anyone to use the other one.  So I was forced to go.  I always paired it with a nice dinner afterwards with suitable liquid refreshment as an inducement not to gnaw off a limb during the movie.

Olof was pretty clear that fantasy wasn’t my favorite genre.  But there were unspoken rules that I would behave.  No laughing out loud. No snarky comments. No eye rolling. 

For his part, Olof has equally disparaging things to say about my taste in movies which he describes as “talking heads.”  And just as I have been willing to see all those gag-able fantasy flicks that he so adores, he has dutifully endured movies that I wanted to see. 

Talking heads movies, at least, tend to be two hours. Fantasy movies generally run three.  Or more. I guess once they filmed all those scenes, they felt compelled to use them.  So the torture-per-minute ratio is waaaaay less for Olof than it is for me. I would like this noted. 

The Harry Potter movies were, in my view, the least bad.  But did they have to make FIVE of them? I mean, we got the point after two.

As for the EIGHT Star Wars movies, I could never figure out the plot (was there one?) other than that good was fighting evil, the bad guys wore black and the good guys wore white (thank you), the sound track was deafeningly loud, and they were basically vehicles for a lot of special effects.  Oh, and usually somebody was trying to resolve a traumatic event of their formative years, generally involving a parent.  (They always blame the parents.)

But the three Tolkien movies – released on three consecutive Christmas days – were the ultimate torture.  Our younger son Henry, home from college, went to the first two with us. He turned out not to be a big Tolkien fan either.  Twelve minutes into the first one, he leaned over and whispered, “How much longer?”  My sentiments exactly. 

Recently, in cleaning out my files (nobody should have this many filing cabinets), I came across a folder full of email correspondence with the kids, this one about the final Tolkien movie. 

From: Mom
To: Henry
Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2003  5:32
Subject: I’m free! I’m free!

Hi Henry –

Olof and I just saw the last of the Lord of the Ring movies today.  Thank GOD Tolkien is dead and can’t write any more of these. I thought Frodo would never throw the damn ring into the volcano. Even after he fiiiiiiinnnnaaaaallly did, the movie went on for another FORTY-FIVE MINUTES.  Frodo and Sam had to be rescued, then Aragon had to be crowned king and then get married to the Liv Tyler character, then they all had to make their very slow way back to Hobbit Land (did these folks have a no-cut contract?), then Sam had to fall in love and get married and have two children, and then Frodo had to decide to write his memoirs and then he had to go away on a ship for more adventures which necessitated long mawkish weepy goodbyes with the other midgets, then we watched the ship sail ENDLESSLY off into the sunset and then we had to go back to Sam’s hobbit house and see how happy the fam was and then…I almost stood up in the theater and started screaming STOP ALREADY!  NOBODY CARES! HE THREW THE EFFING RING IN THE VOLCANO FORTY-FIVE MINUTES AGO! IT’S OVER! LET US GET OUT OF HERE!

Worse, there were a full half-hour of previews ahead of the movie – all of them weird Lord of the Ring-type movies, so it was three and a half hours imprisoned in the theater. 

 How utterly clever of you not to be home for Christmas this year and thereby be paroled from any obligation to watch another two hours and 59 minutes of Tolkien.  (Why are they all exactly that length?)  Is this why you went to Australia instead? (It’s OK to say so.) 

That I have now seen all three Lord of the Rings movies is a testament to how much I love Olof. As the screen credits rolled today, he happily exclaimed, “Was that the greatest movie you ever saw or what!”

What.