I hate to admit it. But, I suppose if I’m honest, I have to admit that I’ve always been that mom.
As I sat on the park bench enjoying the warm summer day while watching my son play, another mom waved to her child in the sandbox and took a seat next to me. After a moment, she leaned over and said, conspiratorially, “Johnny just loves the sandbox. He seems to have a real knack for building things. He’ll probably be an architect or an engineer when he grows up.” She gave a little self-satisfied smile and waved to her son again.
I peered at my son who was eating sand and gave a nervous little laugh.
The woman raised an eyebrow then continued telling me about her boy. “Just look at the way he plays with those cars,” she gushed. “He’s pushing them along the little roads he built in the sand! He’s just brilliant!”
I looked at my son who was reenacting some sort of demolition derby, cars plowing into each other, flipping on their backs, flying through the sandbox, and crashing into piles of twisted metal.
Ms. Perfect Mom cleared her throat and gave a feeble, plastic smile as if to assure me there was still hope for my derelict son and my subpar parenting although she wouldn’t be willing to put money on the odds.
“How old is your son?” came her seemingly innocent question.
“He’s four,” I responded.
“Johnny’s four-and-a-half,” she said triumphantly as if being born six months earlier made her child superior in some way.
I simply smiled at her then turned my attention back to the kids.
“When Johnny was four, he started reading chapter books. What does your son like to read?”
I glanced at my child who was now purposely walking into the poles supporting the swingset. Repeatedly.
She gasped at the sight and asked me, her voice laced with horror and a hint of disgust, “What is he doing?”
I shrugged and offered, “Trying to get brain damage?”
At this point, she excused herself, murmuring something about Johnny’s violin lesson and barely stopped to scoop up her son while beating a hasty retreat from the park.
Yep, I’m that mom. I have those kids.
Most recently, my oldest son bleached his hair out white. Then he started spiking it, molding it into some sort of Flock of Seagulls ‘do. That wasn’t freaky enough for him so next, he took it upon himself to pierce his ears with safety pins. Yeah.
I hate to admit that I’m that mom because I know that normal moms wonder about me. Normal, minivan-driving, soccer-going, whole-food-shopping, card-carrying-members of the PTA kinda of moms. Moms who say things like, “My child will never do that.” Normal moms. Yeah, those moms who whisper behind their perfectly manicured hands, pointing out what a veritable failure I am.
And who could blame them. I mean, a person’s parenting ability is judged on their kids’ successes, right? If your child get straight As, you’re a good parent. If your child is an all-star athlete, you’re a good parent. If your child is a music prodigy, you’re a good parent. If your child is clean-cut, well-groomed, and looks like a model, you’re a good parent. If, however, your child eats sand or has safety pins through his earlobes, you are most definitely that parent.
Still, my son with his, um,
freakish, unique look knows how to think. He knows how to make a decision based on principals and not peer pressure. He thinks about other people; the earth does not revolve around him. He doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. He has common sense. (Okay, we’re still working on that one.) I guess I’d rather be that mom and have that kid than to have one who excels at everything he does because I’ve ensured that outcome by insisting he gets a trophy simply for participating, by making sure he’s invited to every birthday party, by fighting with teachers to make sure he gets credit for mediocre work, by protecting him from any and every possible hardship, and by drilling into his brain the idea that he deserves whatever he wants.
I guess I can live with being that mom.