My mom, however, was not so lucky while I was growing up. Between my brothers and I, we pretty much kept her in suspense and in the process, learned how to accept a little physical punishment. I'm sure that every time she left us home alone, her drive home included thoughts of "Crap, I wonder what they broke this time." Here are just a few:
The Clog Incident:
Even though I wasn't a very girly seven-year-old, there was a short time when I was obsessed with an ugly ass pair of blue plastic clogs. Maybe it's because I always wore sneakers and softball cleats, or maybe it's because I was as fashionably clueless then as I am now, but I insisted on jamming my feet into these hideous bricks of blue plastic and clompity clomp clomping my way around the house. And man did it ever annoy the hell out of people, especially my mom.
One evening, after going through the effort to make massive root beer floats in fancy glass glasses, she asked me to bring two of them downstairs to my brothers. I said of course I would, and clomped into the kitchen, thinking that the shoes made me look like a cocktail waitress -- a moronic, uncoordinated, super annoying cocktail waitress. She told me to take them off, take them off now. I said no I'm fine, I have been wearing them a lot and am really good at walking in them. She said if you fall down and spill those root beer floats I'm going to be a little bit upset and might even hurt you (or something like this, I don't remember exactly) and I said who me? You think I'm going to fall down? Yeah right.
I took a couple steps out of the kitchen (carefully navigating my way through the swinging saloon-type doors that are oh so hideous but were oh so popular in the 1970's), and then instantly got my right clog twisted up in a throw rug and flew forward onto the floor, launching the root beer floats into the air. And even though I landed on my face faster than I ever thought anyone could ever fall, I remember looking up and seeing the glasses of root beer and ice cream, slowly flipping over and over, sailing through the air until the glasses careened off of the black wrought iron railing (which was also popular in the 70's), and then breaking.
I thought well, that was a nice life. All seven years of it.
I frantically tried to pick up the pieces of broken glass scattered amidst the root beer soaked gold shag carpeting (again, 70's), and my mom went to get the vacuum cleaner while her eyes bulged out of her face and veins popped out of her forehead. While picking up the broken glass, I jabbed a piece of it into the palm of my hand, which made me bleed, which seemed to make my mom sort of smirk with joy. I'm not sure if she actually said "Good, I hope it hurts," but that seems like something I would say to my own kid.
After the mess was cleaned up (except for the root beer stain that remained for a couple months), more floats were made, a Band-Aid was put on my hand, and the clogs were chucked into the garbage.
Maybe this is why I hate root beer so much.
Something tells me that the coaster incident happened about the same time as the clog disaster, but to not make myself seem like a complete seven-year-old hellion, I'm thinking that this destruction occurred when I was five. Yeah, five sounds about right.
Shortly after moving to Forest Lake from the even smaller town of Wadena, MN, my mom was lucky enough to be able to buy new furniture. Not a houseful of furniture, but at least she got new end tables, a coffee table, a chair and a funky storage table that we called The Octagon even though it was actually shaped like a hexagon.
Since the tables were new and she wanted them to remain watermark free for at least a couple weeks, she also picked up some coasters. And since she had just spent a bunch of money on tables, she decided to save some money by picking up some cheap, plastic, lightweight coasters that didn't have any felt backing on them. I instantly discovered that since they were so light and didn't have any felt on them, they made a really cool sound when I slid them around on the top of the shiny new coffee table, and sounded even cooler when I made them crash into each other like bumper cars.
For at least fifteen minutes, I was obsessed with making these five coasters slide all over the coffee table in big circular patterns, zig zagging back and forth, smashing into each other in dramatic fashion. And then my mom walked in.
She watched me play my bumper car game for two seconds before she grabbed the back of my hair and made me look really close to the damage I had just done to her brand new table. Damage in the form of hundreds of scratches criss-crossing each other, erasing any traces of shine and newness that the table was lucky enough to possess for a couple days.
I think she said things like "I will never own anything nice as long as you kids are living here!" and "Why do I even bother cleaning and trying to make things look good since it all gets destroyed by you kids!?" and "I can hardly wait until you have kids of your own so that they can drive you crazy like you kids drive me crazy!"
So basically, my current situation -- it's all her fault.
Jade Birds Can Fly:
When I was 13, I began a long friendship with an orthopedic surgeon because I had a knack for repeatedly spraining my ankles in gymnastics. I was really hoping for a different talent, like "grace" or "balance," but no -- I got ankle spraining.
After putting up with me during the first two casts on my right ankle, my brothers ran out of sympathy when the third one went on. If we were all walking around somewhere, they would sprint ahead and laugh as I hopped along behind them, trying to keep up. If they were driving me to a store, they would never find a parking spot close to the door. And when my parents were gone, they loved to test my balance, or lack thereof.
My mom has never been a fan of accumulating knick-knacks, but she did hold onto things that had emotional value. One of these things was a bird carved out of a hunk of jade that was about 10" tall and had been given to her by her dad. I didn't really like the thing that much because it was impossible to dust, but whatever.
One afternoon when my parents were both gone, I was doing my dusting chore and attempting to clean the damn bird when my brother Jeff thought it would be really funny to come over and start pushing me around. I said knock it off, he said "Whoa, whoa watch out clutso! You're going to fall on your ass!" so of course I swung my casted leg at him, but then he dodged my leg, so then my leg hit that jade bird like it was a fastball.
As we both started fabricating stories in our head as to what "really" happened and why the other person was at fault, we looked down to find the jade bird broken in two. Shit. Or maybe not shit. It was broken in such a way that it could probably be glued back together! We quickly scrounged up some Super Glue from the junk drawer and the bird seemed good as new. No one would notice. We wouldn't have to confess a thing!
A couple months later my dad was sitting in his chair, which was located next to the table that held the jade bird, reading the newspaper. He needed some better light so he swung his reading lamp over, but the light tipped over a little too far and Jeff and I watched as it knocked the jade bird over. It, of course, broke in two. Ha ha sucker! You're going to take the blame for breaking the bird!
He said uh oh, so sorry, my bad, maybe we can fix it if we just...hey. What's this? Why is there already glue residue where the break is? This bird has been broken before! JODY!