When I tell stories of parental woe to my mom, she sympathizes. She commiserates. And she often laughs. Though she rarely says it, I know she’s thinking it: paybacks. Paybacks for the many nights I woke her from her dear slumber because I feared some crazy in my closet would drop screws in my ears or because the giant teddy bear on my shelf cast Jurassic-size shadows on my walls. Paybacks for stomping down the hall protesting a dinner of pork chops, scalloped potatoes, and green beans instead of the good ol’ mac and cheese standby. Paybacks for never letting her have a conversation on the telephone without “Momma, Momma, Momma, Momma.” And yes, even paybacks for informing callers to our house that she couldn’t come to the phone because she was on the toilet and it would be awhile.
I see now what I put her through. I know when I relay my children’s escapades from the week that she must hang up, throw her head back, and give one good mighty howl at the pleasure that I am finally paying my dues. Yes, indeedy, paybacks are often what they say they are. Though she has no part in the matter, my mom gets to watch me suffer the annoyances of motherhood that I put her through. For her and many mothers, that is quietly payback enough.
But this mom has an urge to fight back. I try to quietly and calmly deal with whatever my kids throw at me, but at night I de-stress by plotting my revenge. I’m keeping a list of the things they do. I’m sure I won’t follow through, but if my kids don’t shape up as teenagers, I’m getting even.
1. Wherever they are in the house, I’ll come find them and announce that I need to go to the bathroom, number one or number two. If their friends are visiting, I’ll loudly whisper it in their ear.
2. I will happily clean, read, or do whatever keeps me happy, but the second they talk on the phone, I will scream at the top of my lungs and then chase them around the house and pound on their door when they close and lock it.
3. I’ll hand them my tiny bits of trash, bypassing four trashcans in the process. When they refuse, I’ll sneak it in their pocket or later they’ll find it stuck to their shirt.
4. Every time they kiss their boyfriend or girlfriend, I’ll cover my eyes, fall to the floor, and scream, “Is it over?”
5. In the middle of the night, I’ll stand two inches from their face and wait until they wake up. I won’t need anything except to be put back to bed.
6. I’ll come in their room early on Saturday morning and tell them such important details as “My butt itches.”
7. My wardrobe will consist of plaid shirts, striped leggings, and pink tutus, and I will insist that it matches and that I venture out in public with them dressed that way.
8. When they refuse to let me drive them to the movies, I’ll stomp away in a huff and shout, “You never let me do ANYTHING!”
9. As soon as they fluff their pillows, snuggle deep into the couch, get everything just right, I’ll tell them that’s my pillow. When they get comfy again, I’ll tell them that’s my blanket too.
10. When they wake at noon, before they’ve chewed that first bite of cereal I’ll roll off twenty questions in ten seconds about Harry Potter and then tell them about the new pillows I want to get next and what color and where I want to put them and explain that the old ones just aren’t squishy enough and do you think J.K. Rowling will ever write another Harry Potter book? What do you mean you don’t like Harry Potter anymore? I thought you loved Harry Potter. Don’t you remember in book four when he grabbed the Goblet of Fire and it was a portkey? That was awesome!
I love my kids with every fiber of my being, but I don’t always love what they do. And they don’t always love what I do. I guess that makes us even. So there.