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 Happy Mothers Day!

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Barb Taub, Weekly Column, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, Nov. 1989

Parenting: grace under pressure

Parenting: grace under pressure? Not so much…                                                           (NOTE: click link at bottom of post for musical accompaniment.)

My mother’s hair is getting pretty grey. As she has 10 children, I can’t figure out why it has taken her this long. I myself can identify the source of each of my well-deserved and rapidly multiplying silver threads. Take the events of a typical morning like November 7:

2:37a.m: – The 3-year-old wakes up ready to party. After some discussion, he decides it would be easier to keep our attention if he joins us in our bed.

6:00a.m: – I wake up the 7-year-old who has an early school bus to catch and am joined in the kitchen by the 5-year-old who doesn’t have to be up for another hour and a half. She demands waffles. I tell her we don’t have any waffles. She sadly informs a bowl of oatmeal that a loving parent would stock better cereal, like those chocolate-chip mini-donuts that glow in the dark.

6:10 am (and 6:15, 6:22 and 6:25a.m.): – Even sending in the shock troops (3-year-old and puppy) fails to blast the 7-year-old out of bed. I carry her into the kitchen, tape open her eyelids and put her on a chair in front of some oatmeal, no, we don’t have any waffles, eat it.

Oatmeal? For me? You shouldn't have. You really, REALLY shouldn't have...

Oatmeal? For me? You shouldn’t have. You really, REALLY shouldn’t have…

6:27a.m. – She completes her minute study of the congealing properties of the untouched bowl of oatmeal and retires to the bathroom.

6:51a.m. – I brush her hair and make the lunch we both know she won’t eat because I keep putting wholesome things in there in case of a spot-check by the Motherhood Wholesomeness Patrol disguised as lunchroom monitors. (What? Didn’t you know they report back to the Teachers’ Lounge things like, “Barb’s kid got some good wholesome stuff to throw into the garbage while little Joey Smith was forced to eat every crumb of his six Chocolate Whammy Wallbangers”?)

7:05a.m. – She can’t find her backpack and her shoes. I find them and zip her into her coat despite her protests that nobody in the second grade zips their coat, and I complete her humiliation by forcing her to wear her hat. She goes out the door, unzips her coat, loses her hat, and somehow catches the bus.

8:20a.m. – I drive the 5-year-old to the kindergarten we are sending her to so she can learn brain surgery in two different languages. (Three, if you count pig-latin.)

10:20a.m. – I call my husband and remind him that we’re due at the kindergarten music recital at eleven and I’ll pick him up on my way if he’s waiting outside because I can’t stand to be late. I’m late, and don’t have time to stop for gas in my ancient station wagon which gets almost 2 ½ mpg.

mad-rocker-baby11:00a.m. – Three and a half of the cutest minutes you’ve ever seen. Their cover of “Chicken Lips and Lizard Hips” will definitely be Grammy material once the video comes out.

11:06a.m. – We get one block from the school and run out of gas. My husband sprints the five blocks to his van and comes back for the 3-year-old, the dog and me. We drop him off and go to the gas station, where I leave every cent I have in ransom for their ancient gas can. I go back to my illegally abandoned car and attempt to put the gas into it. At this point, I discover that the gas can’s nozzle is merely a decorative accent, not attached to the actual can at any point. Necessity being the mother of stupidity, I fasten the nozzle on with strapping tape.

Did you know that strapping tape dissolves in gasoline? I now know that too. By accident, a small amount of gas actually goes into the tank. Smelling exotically of the remaining 1 ½ gallons of eau-de-petrol which I’m now wearing, we head back to return the gas can. While I’m arguing with the attendant about the nozzle-less condition of the gas can, I look up and notice that the van is gone.

Those of you who aren’t shocked to hear this know, of course, that I left the 3-year-old in the car. Testosterone poisoning has taken over, forcing him to escape from the car seat (which takes a college graduate several minutes to unfasten), release the emergency brake, and back the van out across four lanes of traffic, where it sits, broadside.

Both the 3-year-old and the dog are inside, totally fascinated.

“Grace-under-pressure” being my motto, I gracefully drop the gas can and race into traffic, screaming, “OH MY GOD” at the top of my lungs. Enchanted with this performance, the attendant returns all my money, obviously realizing that I will need it during the years of intensive psychiatric treatment ahead.

Oh, chicken lips and lizard hips
And alligator eyes
Monkey legs and buzzard eggs
And salamander thighs
Rabbit ears and camel rears
And tasty toenail pies
Stir ’em all together
And it’s mama’s soup surprise
–John & Nancy Cassidy
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