Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Little Bit About my Ma and a few of the Lessons She Taught Me Because it is her Birthday

Well, this morning as I watched my baby boy attempt to totally annihilate his car seat, I remembered that today is my mother’s birthday.  Man she is getting old.  For her sake I will not tell you how old she is, but I may embarrass her in other ways because, let’s face it, that is what I do.  Anyway, her birthday has gotten me to thinking about my childhood and all the shit she had to put up with and all the little life lessons that she taught me along the way.  Lessons like, it’s not cool to poop and eat simultaneously or if you break something you should never own up to it because you’re going to get yelled at either way or it is always better to eat shit than nothing at all, but the most important lesson she taught me was the all-important double flush technique when you are brewing up a real stinker.  Of course, I am only kidding about the above life lessons.  These were by no means the most important lessons that I have learned over the years.  The real lessons that I believe to be the most important are less straight forward, and, more than likely, my mom didn’t even know she was teaching me anything when she, in fact, was.  I can only hope to teach my son these same lessons half as well.

I guess if you know my ma, then you know that she was a librarian for an elementary school for around a century before she finally retired.  Don’t ask me why she chose that profession.  I think she was crazy to waste a perfectly good degree on something like that, but she’s not me and I am not her.  Thank god!  I guess what really bothered me about ma working for the elementary school as a librarian was the fact that most of the other faculty members she worked with were wankers who gave her shit about not being a “real” teacher.  I believe the phrase, "You’re just a baby sitter," came up numerous times.  What the crap is that all about?!  This might be hard to believe, but they were all just babysitters too.  But, of course my ma, being who she is, rarely ever stood up for herself.  I wish she would have though.  

Whether she knows it or not the fact that she didn’t stand up to the other jerk-ass teachers taught me one of the most valuable lessons she could have ever taught me knowingly or not.  That lesson was, “If you let people treat you like shit, they will continue to do so forever.”  If you want people to respect you, you have to demand it or earn it somehow.  So, I decided at a young age that I will not put up with the kind of shenanigans my ma put up with, not from anybody.  I will not be anyone’s stepping stool, lackey, or punching bag.  I probably would have turned out the same if my ma was the confrontational sort, but somehow this lesson is more poignant when you observe someone you love being shat on repeatedly by people who would be lost without their little books with all the answers in them.  It would be inhumane to expect them to learn the material before they taught it I guess.  It isn't like it changes all that much from year to year.  Please don’t get me wrong here.  I am not judging my ma on not standing up for herself.  I know that she probably really couldn’t at the time.  What I am really trying to say, is that I am grateful that she was able to guide me into being the man I became while using that experience as a teacher/librarian as a pivot point gently nudging me in the right direction.  

Anyway, it really would have been nice to see her put those other jokers in their place, but for that to happen they would have had to say or do something to the family.  That surely would have sown the seeds of rage in my ma.  I am sure that would have been about the only thing she ever really could have gotten pissed enough about to fight someone.  You know what?  No matter what I said back in my childhood, I always knew that my ma would have my back when I needed her to.  That is one of the main things I hope to carry on with my family too.  Now that I have a child I want to become the one that my son can fall back on when a little more support is needed.  My mom and dad did it for me.  It’s my turn to have someone else’s back now, and I am ready for it.     

Remembering all this has made me realize what a little shit I was most of the time when I was growing up.  Man my parents put up with a lot of crap from me.  I don’t think I ever listened to what my ma and dad said.  In truth, I still don’t no matter how much sense they make.  They shouldn’t feel bad though because I don’t listen to hardly anybody until after I already screwed something up bad, and even then I am reluctant to.  I guess I am just one of those people who are hell bent on making their own mistakes before they learn anything.   Take this for example. When I was probably around 12 or 13 I was playing with some firecrackers with a couple of friends.  Well, one of the dumbasses decided to see if it would hurt if he held on to one until it exploded is his freakin’ hand.  Of course it burned him.  I watched it happen, but was determined that he was holding it wrong.  He had it in his fist.  I thought that if he had the firecracker just lying on his hand it wouldn’t have hurt him at all.  So, my other friend tried it that way, and, newsflash, he got burned too.  So, what did I do?  I tried to show them both up by pinching the firecracker between two fingers thinking that the pressure would send the heat above and below my hand leaving me unharmed.  It didn’t work.  All three of us got burned and had it been a larger firecracker I might have blown off two of my fingers because I was an idiot and couldn’t learn by watching someone else screw up.  So there you have it, evidence that even at a young age I had to do things my own way and make my own mistakes.  Even though I was relatively positive that the outcome would be the same, I had to try it myself even after I saw the same stupid experiment twice before. 

I think that that event was around the start of my problematic years.  Well, not a problem for me, but for my ma and dad.  Probably more problematic for my ma though.  She was fun to get all riled up.  I used to tell her some whoppers and pull some pretty asinine stunts just to see how she would react.  As it turns out, when I told her I hurt my hand while holding onto a lit firecracker, she didn’t believe me.  I believe she said something along the lines of this.  “Nice try buddy.  I know that you’re not dumb enough to do something that stupid.”  Well ma you were wrong!  Ha!  Take that.  Well, we have all read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” right? Well, yeah telling extraordinarily elaborate lies backfired on me too.  Surprise, surprise!  You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to make my ma and dad believe me when I actually did manage to get myself into a real jam.  Well, that’s all in the past.  I already learned that lesson because once you lie to someone they can never believe you again.  So, I can only prepare for the future now and make sure that my little man learns it too.  

Oh,I was just recalling all my shitty behavior and it reminded me of the “Mothers Curse” my ma invoked upon me before my wife and I had our son or even met really.  Geez, I hope my ma wouldn’t wish that on my wife.  Anyway, I don’t know how many times my ma said, “I hope you have one just like you!”, but it was a lot.  You see that didn’t bother me then, but now I am starting to wonder if her curse will take hold.  It is not like I am worried if my boy will come out alright.  I think I kind of did.  What really worries me is that, if her curse succeeds, he is going to try really hard to drive me crazy or get himself hurt by doing some asinine stunt like I did when I was little and less safety conscience.  How am I going to be able to deal with that?  How am I going to prepare for that?  I would ask my ma and dad, but we all know I won’t listen to them anyway.  That’s a given.  I just hope I can survive his childhood with my sanity intact.  God knows my mother didn’t survive mine with hers intact.

P.s. Happy birthday Ma.  I hope it is a good one, and I hope you realize how loved you are. 

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