These days, I only have one pair of underwear to put on every morning. My mama is probably so horrified after reading that sentence that she isn't even reading this one. In fact, to keep me from airing my dirty laundry in public any further, she is likely on her way to Walmart to buy me some foundation garments.
I bet my mama is asking herself why I do these things to her. She's fondly thinking of yesteryear when I was a little girl obsessed with "hosy stockings." She's remembering how easily she convinced me, when I was 5, that if I ate a chicken wing I could fly. She's recollecting how I climbed trees as high as I could go and then called for help because I couldn't climb down. Nostalgia about long braids hanging down my back and my snaggle-toothed smile swirl in her head.
I doubt my sassed-mouth comment, at the know-it-all, belligerent age of 13, that women her age, which at the time was a decrepit 37, shouldn't wear jeans, has crossed her mind. This gives me hope that I might someday forget the blight of a 13 year-old on my own home.
I look (up) at him and wish that just once more he would ask after a meal, "I be joyed it. I be scused?" instead of getting up and raking his chair across the floor, prompting me to fuss about his manners. If only he would engage me in a conversation like he once did, saying, "There's nuch thing as witches, is there Mama?"
Right now, if I ask, "How was school today?" he answers, "Fine." When I persist, "Tell me something that happened," he grouses, "I can't remember." The exchange advances to me arguing, "How can you spend eight hours at school and remember nothing? Do you have a head injury?" Needless to say, the chat ends with both of us aggravated.
But the child can be moved to share his thoughts. When I asked him to walk down the street to get his brother from a friend's house, he complained, "Why can't you call down there and have them send him home? It's only a block," to which I said, "Because it's dark outside." He responded by getting up from watching television, stomping out of the room, and yelling, "You're just wasting my time!" As he slammed the front door and went to get his brother, I shouted after him, "The way I see it, all you've got is time!"
I relate to my husband how this same 13 year-old son emphatically told me, "All you do is make my life suck," when I told him to cut the grass. I again dropped to his adolescent level and sarcastically replied, "Do you mean the way I feed and clothe and house you makes your life suck? Or do you mean I make your life suck by driving you to baseball practice and cheering for you at soccer games and taking you and your friends to the movies and paying for you?"
My husband comforts me, saying, "The good thing about the kids getting older is you only have one pair of underwear to put on every morning. Nobody's but your own." I know when my mother gets back from Walmart with my new underwear and reads the rest of this column she will again ask herself why I do these things to her. She'll probably also forget how cute I was when I was 4 and take colossal satisfaction in my dirty laundry.
(Lucy Adams is a columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny . She lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her Web site, www.IfMama.com.)