So, I’ve been re-reading every single post that Allie Brosh (http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/) has ever written, because she is honestly the main reason I decided starting a humorous blog would be fun. Though it has had a decidedly negative effect on my productivity, especially my attempts to start cussing less, I cannot and do not wish to stop. I also don’t care if people who read this blog post leave me for Allie Brosh and never come back. I love having readers, but Brosh is simply too awesome to even try to resist.
Anyway, as I read about the horrible/hilarious things that Allie did as a child, I reflect, as she frequently does, on the caliber of mother that could actually keep such a child alive until adulthood. We are completely in agreement in believing that such a mother is rare and to be cherished above most other things. Luckily for me, I also have such a mother, and she is my ideal version of what a superhero should be. Note that I didn’t call her a superheroine. We’re trying to stop gendering our insults, and so I feel that our compliments should also be on a level playing field. Girls can be heroes too.
To illustrate some of the ways in which my mother is awesome, I think I’ll describe a few situations in my past that my mother handled with particular aplomb. I would have throttled me long ago.
First of all, I am now, have been, and probably always will be obsessed with being as much of an over-achiever as I can stand, especially when it comes to academics. I was the kind of kid that, even in elementary school, would rather drag myself to every single day of school, even if I had ebola and maybe leprosy, than miss out on the perfect attendance award.
Can you imagine a kid throwing monumental tantrums because you WOULDN’T let them go to school? I can. I wasn’t popular at school, and didn’t particularly enjoy the monotony of it, but I would be damned if I’d miss out on that shiny little piece of paper (or not shiny. Sometimes they didn’t even bother to make it pretty.) that said I had been there EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
So, I had weird goals. Then, however, you consider my obsession with spelling. My mom had been reading to me for as long as I could remember, and I frequently snuck out of bed to try and cram in a few more pages by the light from the crack at the hinge of my bedroom door. This voracious appetite for literature left me with a fairly prodigious vocabulary (haha, see what I did there? Them’s BIG words!), which I was never too shy to show off. This meant that the school spelling bee was to me what the Olympics are to people who don’t think running for fun is a worse idea than getting my tongue pierced by a 5 year-old with sadistic tendencies. I OWNED that shit, and I looked forward to it every year as the culmination, nay, as the justification, of all my awkward nerdiness.
One year, probably around the 4th grade, I woke up on the day of the spelling bee with an unsettling feeling in my stomach. It felt a bit like nausea, but that couldn’t be it, because I had school AND a spelling bee that day. 5 minutes later, it started to feel like something evil had taken up residence in my stomach but was now trying to escape IN ANY WAY IT COULD, but on Spelling Bee day, I might as well have been Indiana Jones. Evil was just going to have to stay put until I was f*&!ing ready for it, because I would smite it with my Whip of Awesome Spellery if it didn’t. Evil doesn’t like being smote. I swallowed hard and stumbled out of bed.
Mom took one look at me and checked my temperature. No matter how hard you try, it’s not that easy to hide feeling puny when you’re in the 4th grade. She asked me if I felt okay, and as far as I can remember through the haze of icky that was engulfing, I expressed a sentiment similar to, “Yes! I feel awesome! Does my forehead feel hot? Probably because my noggin is crammed so full of spelling you can feel the awesomeness radiating out! Let’s SPELL THIS B&!*TCH!!!”
Said sentiment may have been obscured by the uncontrollable sobbing that occurred the moment she even suggested that I should skip school AND the Spelling Bee. I must have thought perfect attendance and spelling trophies would help me become famous later in life. Hint: they didn’t.
So, she let me go to school, probably to stop me from making myself more sick with my unrelenting tantrum. I felt fine through my first few classes, and only staggered a little when I tried to make my way around the classroom. However, about an hour before the Spelling Bee was scheduled to begin, the evil that had remained chained in my stomach got snarky.
Evil Stomach Pain: “I’m bored.”
Me: “Shut up. You are fine.”
Evil Stomach Pain: “No, really. I seriously gottta get some fresh air.”
Me: “You can have fresh air when I have won the hell out of this Spelling Bee. Then, Momma can put a wet towel on my forehead and hold back my hair, and you can have all the fresh air your demonic self requires.”
Evil Stomach Pain: “Sorry (not really), but I don’t think I’m gonna be able to wait that long. And you know what else? I don’t think you can actually stop me.”
Me: “You don’t think so, huh? You don’t even know the meaning of “can”! I do, but I’ll probably ask them to define it for me before I spell it, because I have endurance. Because I’m a WINNER. Because…gurgle…because…whimper…”
I looked up at my teacher with all the anguish, loss, and uncontrollable nausea that permeated my little body, and then I barfed violently all over everything in my vicinity.
Even after I’d gotten that out of my system, the bastards wouldn’t let me go to the spelling bee. They actually made me go home with my mom when she came to get me. The nerve. If I’d been a little taller, they wouldn’t have dared.
My mother, because she is also an unofficial saint, has only used this memory on me in extreme circumstances. Do we like barfing at school? No, we do not. Are we terribly productive when trying not to barf? Also, no. Are those good reasons to skip classes, even college ones, on occasion? Yes, but I still hate it.
I always will.
Another example of my mother’s never-ending patience is the story of when I discovered sin.
As a small child, I did a large number of ornery, or even just plain mean, things. For example, my brother and I used to have to share a bed. I would wait until he was asleep, and then I would roll over and bite him on the arm as hard as I could. Why?
Why not? He was there, and I didn’t know cannibalism was bad yet.
I also cheated on a spelling test once. They wanted me to spell “what” and I was all like “Whut?” That couldn’t be right. So I cheated. Then, I went back and purposefully spelled it wrong. Wait, this might have been after I discovered sin. Before that, I wouldn’t have cared nearly so much.
Anyway, at one point in my childhood, I suddenly realized what “bad things” were, and then I thought back over the sheer number of my actions that would fit under that heading, and then something ruptured in my brain. One moment, life was:
Sunshine, beating up my brother, brownies, joy, and kittens!
The next moment, life was:
Horror. Unstoppable, unmitigated horror that would never end.
I managed to hold it in for about 2 weeks, marinating in my own little girl stew of guilt, before I exploded all over my mother. If we were Catholic, she would have been my long-suffering priest. For months afterward, hardly a day went by when I didn’t sidle up to her, take a deep breath, and divulge some other horrible truth.
Example: Mother is determinedly cooking spaghetti in the kitchen, trying to ignore the fact that while before it was hard to get her daughter to admit to anything, it was now impossible to get her to stop. I was totally prepping to be a nun.
Me (quavery voice): “…Momma?”
Momma (cheerful no matter what): “Yes, sweetie?”
Me: “I…I…I…” deep, sobby breath, “I killed a snail on purpose.”
Momma (now carefully neutral): “Oh? When did you do that?”
Me: “A couple years ago…”
Mom (realizing, not for the first time, that she birthed a little crazy person): “Oh. Well, are you sorry?”
Me (voice cracking now): “yes...”
Mom: “Okay, well, umm, don’t do it again…?”
Me: “I need to be grounded.”
I grounded myself, off and on, for several years. Mom would hardly ever help me enforce it. I think the maximum sentence she ever let me give myself was a 2-week grounding from reading. I remember feeling bad for accidentally reading a random piece of paper lying around. Don't worry, I confessed that too.
I’ve gotten about the whole thing now. Or worse, depending on your view. I think I’m reverting to my Before-Sin Childhood. Probably has something to do with not being Christian anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel guilty a lot, but it doesn’t come with all the hell-fire consequences. Make of that what you will.
I think it's funny.
Love you, Mom.