The mother’s curse

We can all agree raising children is challenging.

You never know what they might say or do.

One day, I had one of those challenging days. I drove Grandma to the store for her weekly shopping. My 4-yearold daughter accompanied us. She pitched a walleyed temper fit because I said no.

I told Miss Priss if she didn’t straighten up immediately, she’d be spanked.

Her eyes widened. Her lower lip trembled. She wailed, “I want my Daddy.”

“Your Daddy would’ve already spanked you.”

“No, he wouldn’t.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder, popped her hands on her hips and looked me straight in the eye. “He thinks I’m too cute to spank.”

Laughter erupted from all around. I wanted to melt into the floor, but I couldn’t. Instead, I had to help my grandmother up from said floor, where she laughed her head off. I know the common phrase is “laughing her ass off,” but I used the words ‘Grandma’ and ‘ass’ in the same sentence once before. I can still taste the soap.

I called my mom for guidance, and to vent.

“Mom, you’re not going to believe what your granddaughter did.”

“Hang on,” my mom said. I heard a thunk as the phone hit the top of her desk. A drawer opened, paper shuffled and a drawer shut. She picked up the phone. “Go ahead,” she said, “what happened?” So I told her. I heard a pen scratching against paper as she murmured supportive phrases.

Time passed. I had another child. The day came when I, once again, needed motherly advice.

I called Mom. “Mom, you are not going to believe what your grandson pulled at school today.”

Before I could say anything else, she interrupted me. “Hang on; I’ll be right back.” Once again I heard the telephone bounce against her desk. Drawers opened, papers shuffled, drawers closed. Finally, she picked up the phone. “What did my precious grandson do?”

“Mom, I’m so embarrassed. I got a call from the principal. Seems my son and another kindergarten boy stood on the sinks in the restroom aiming toward the drain in the middle of the floor. They were competing to see who could pee the farthest.”

This time I didn’t hear the pen scratch against the paper.

“Oh,” she said in disappointed tone, “What are you going to do about that?”

Not the response I hoped to receive. And why did she sound so disappointed?

Time passed. I stopped by my mom’s and started to tell her about another prank one of the kids pulled. She stopped me mid-sentence, rushed to her desk, opened a drawer and pulled out a file folder. She flipped it open. Inside were several sheets of notebook paper filled with lists. Some of the lines had been crossed through.

My mom grabbed a pen and looked up expectantly. “Well,” she said, “Who did what?” “Mom, what’s with the folder?”

“This is where I keep my ‘mother’s curse’ list.”

“Mother’s Curse list?” I asked. “What mother’s curse?”

“You know,” she said, “The curse I placed on you the day your firstborn child arrived. The curse saying may your child be as rotten as you were? All the horrible things you did are recorded on these pages. Every time you call to tattle on one of your children, I cross a comparable item off my list.”

“Really, Mom? All these times I’ve called you for help, you’ve been crossing things off a list?”

She just smiled.

From that day forward any time I called to “tattle,” I started the conversation with “Better grab your list.”

The day my daughter and her friend shut down the school because of a lab “accident” in chemistry class, I heard the paper rattle and a pen scratch. How did my mom know my best friend and I had done the same thing?

Every time a child skipped school; every time they snuck out of the house; every jump off of the cliff into the river during Senior class pictures; any and every stunt my children pulled, I blamed directly on my mom and her mother’s curse.

Now my children have children. The other day my daughter called me.

“Mom, oh my God, Mom, you are not going to believe what Baby J did today.”

I interrupted her. “Hold on, Sweetie,” I said, “let me get my list.”

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