Karma: Paybacks Are a Bitch

Imagine if you will that you have a crazy person in your charge. You are completely responsible for her care and her overall well being. In the past, she has attempted to pick up a bloody rag that was lying in a gutter, she has put a bead into her nose, and she has made a game of sliding down two flights of stairs on her back. If left to her own devices she would eat nothing but spaghetti, ice cream and the occasional Chicken McNugget. Keeping her safe and healthy is no easy task.

You must be always be careful of how you phrase instructions to her. Never leave her a loophole, and for God’s sake, never underestimate her! She is crazy, but she is also a lawyer. Assume nothing, and take no detail for granted.

If you tell her to put on a coat, don’t presume she’ll button it. If you think she should button the coat and wear gloves or maybe a hat, tell her. Of course, she’ll lose one of the gloves and the hat on the very first day she wears them, but that is to be expected. Did you tell her NOT to lose them? See? You were asking for it…

This is how it feels to be a mom.

On one hand I feel very lucky to have a smart, healthy daughter. On the other, I see that I’ve gone from being a happy-go-lucky free spirit to something more akin to Nurse Ratchett in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I don’t hand out pills, though. Instead, I try to force my daughter to swallow old wives tales and urban myths. If I don’t have a sound reason as to why she shouldn’t take baths in water so hot that her skin turns bright crimson red, then I will tell her that this behavior causes varicose veins. She likes to take hot baths, and the fact that it upsets me to see her boil herself like a lobster is not reason enough to insist she change a behavior which, in all honesty, has yet to do her any harm.

My mother used many of the same methods in attempting to keep me in check during my pre-teen years. Her efforts at reigning me in were all but wasted on my rebellious little ass. If she didn’t outright forbid a certain behavior, I would push the boundaries to the outer limits.

For example, at around age eleven I took to positioning myself upside-down to read. I would hang my head off the couch and hold an upside-down book to my upside-down face. The first time I did this, it was simply for noveltie’s sake. But, wouldn’t you know, when I discovered this behavior of mine made my mom helplessly batty with irrational protests against it, it quickly became my preferred way to peruse Teen Beat.

My mother did what she had to do. She could easily have just said, “Don’t do that. It makes me nuts.” But, she wanted me to care about her feelings, and stop out of good conscience. So, instead, she suggested negative outcomes for me that my upside-down reading might cause. Something about my brain caving in, perhaps? Oh, and blindness. Definitely blindness. That was her favorite.

Luckily, today I’m nowhere near the vegetable that my mother predicted I would become if I didn’t heed all of her warnings. To whit, I am not blind from reading Mad Magazines with minimal lighting, I am not deaf from listening to my Bay City Rollers albums at a high volume, my eyes never stayed irretrievably crossed when I made an ugly face at her, and I am neither paralyzed nor dead from falling off a bed I jumped on one too many times.

I guess I could say that since I turned out ok, maybe I shouldn’t get bothered over the little things my kid does that annoy me. I could say that, but who would I be kidding? It is always going to drive me up the wall when I see her get out of the tub with her legs all red. So, has anyone got a believabl
e story to tell her? Telling her the truth (i.e. that it will dry out her skin) does not work. Maybe I should tell her she’ll go blind…

Comments 7

  • I got no answer… I had a grandmother-from-hell who told me that if I didn’t jump off the escalator at the top, it would eat me starting at the toes. To this day I am not comfortable on escalators.

    On the other hand, she also said that playing on wet grass caused kidney trouble. Somehow that one just rolled right off.

  • She’ll boil her ovaries and she won’t be able to have children?

  • Guess I can’t be any help, I love hot baths. I get in them warm first and then add the hot water frequently during the bath. That is my time to read a book as well. So the dirtier I get the more I can read:)). Actually I think I am just cold in the bathroom. What about if she will use warmer water if you will put a towel around her shoulders to keep her warm as she washes. I know sounds dumb but who knows may work.

  • HEY! I have someone in my charge like you have in your charge…and it is, indeed, a bitch.


  • You know, I’m sure i told you some kind of dumb crap about taking real hot baths. I know because I would stay awake late at night just thinking up stories for anything you guys might even think about doing. Didn’t you write all those stories down – I know I told you to?? Just to set the record straight, it was reading in the dark that would make you blind. Reading upside down, you were going to break your neck and end up in a wheel chair. I think… its all really a big blurr.

  • Imagine, if you will, the following conversation with your 17-year-old charge. For demographic purposes, this abridged conversation took place in NH circa 1993.

    “Mom, can Myk and I drive down to CT to visit some friends we met on Internet Relay Chat?”

    Fast forward two hours.

    “Mom, can I hang with Myk this weekend?”
    “Sure. Be back Sunday.”

    Fast forward to Sunday.

    “This is Person from Hospital in Hartford. Your Son rolled his truck on i84. He’s fine, but we need you to sign him out.”

    Fast forward three hours.

    “I said you couldn’t go to CT!”
    “We didn’t.”
    “We’re in CT right now!”
    “We were coming back from PA. You never said we couldn’t go to PA.”


    On a side note, the State Trooper that was following me signed the report that the accident was not my fault. Not that it was any consolation…

  • I don’t even want to think about the stuff I did when I was a teenager. I have some hard times ahead of me if I am to get my just desserts for what I put Mom through during that time in my life.

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