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…