Chicago – 1994. It was a Saturday play-date at Burger King. Joined by family friends with two young boys, it was a special day. As the oldest, most responsible, and most likely to be a suck-up, I carried the tray full of kid’s meals to a table. My sister and I sat, the mothers brought the rest of the food and corralled the two boys that were practicing Ninja Turtle kicks. Now, I KNOW this was 1994 because The Lion King had just debuted in theaters. Thus, the toys included in the kid meals were Lion King themed. As I pulled out the toy, I saw a card with the villain, Scar, surrounded by his hyena henchmen. The card had a phrase on it that Scar said during the movie; “I’m surrounded by idiots.”
Unfortunately, this was before I had ANY progress in my constant struggle to keep monologue internal. Thus, I read the card aloud. My mother- I then discovered- has not only invisible eyes on the back of her head, but super-sonic selective hearing. In the middle of making my younger brother sit in a seat and eat a burger before fries (which at the time was harder than disarming a nuclear warhead) she snapped her head to me and promptly began a stern series of loving discipline that I have not forgotten. Regardless of the reason, we do NOT say we are surrounded by idiots. A day’s grounding ensued. Meanwhile, my brother proceeded to bounce off of walls, put fries up his nose, and defend the restaurant against the invisible attacks of Shredder, Be-bop and Rock-Steady. Oh, the injustice.
Funny side note- my sister then whispered to me, asking me to read her card. Bless her heart- it was Pumba speaking in pig-Latin. She was safe. Drat. No, I HAD to get the villain card! No wonder they call him Scar. I’m still stunted.
Now, I revisit that moment of childhood scarring to explain the significance of what occurred in my home yesterday. My husband came home with a button that had formerly resided on a co-worker’s desk. This button looks like a Staple’s ‘Easy Button’ and also speaks when pushed. As you might have guessed, this button bears the image of Scar. Upon pressing it, one will hear the familiar deep voice of Scar saying, “I’m surrounded by idiots!” (At least it is unmistakably Scar’s voice so innocent readers are not harmed in the making of a memory.)
Let me reiterate that my husband, knowingly and without coercion, brought a talking button into a home with a toddler. Seriously? During a diaper change for Secondborn there was a button-pushing rampage followed by a rapping remix that occurs when a button is pressed before the phrase is over. I immediately wanted to remove the button from his adorable grasp and send it to the savannah. Furthermore, I wanted to impress upon Firstborn that in this house we do NOT say that we are surrounded by idiots! God Bless Texas…I am my mother. I also want fries. Oy.
I am now in the age of ‘older’ that it mentioned throughout childhood- i.e., “You’ll understand when you are older”, “You’ll thank me when you are older”, “Just wait until you are older!”
It is now that I realize the injustices of my early life were actually attempts at proper raising. With the mom-perspective of needing playdates to survive, I have a new appreciation for my poor mother’s endurance. SHE was the one surrounded by idiots…or at least a band of laughing hyenas. As I recounted this dark day in my childhood, my mother lamented her total responsibility for all things horrible in my life but reminded me how well I turned out. Eh, the jury is still out.
I think Scar leaves us with another catch phrase that encompasses the important lesson I learned last night. Be Prepared.
A friend without children reminded me this week that no matter how good of a mother you are, “You are always doing it wrong. Then when you fix it for the second kid, you are STILL doing it wrong.” Thank goodness for those true reminders. All we can do is our best, but that still won’t be good enough all the time! Perfection is unattainable; failure and learning are a part of it. No kid comes out unscathed- not to mention the mothers! Being responsible for other little lives means being prepared. Be prepared for the straw to break the camel’s back. Be prepared for a total blow-out diaper at the worst possible time. Be prepared for horrible comments from strangers. Be prepared for something hilarious to happen while trying to give stern discipline. Be prepared to be called out on your mistakes. Be prepared to be surrounded by idiots. Just be prepared.
Who knows what my poor mother endured just getting us out of the house and to the Burger King, let alone keeping us somewhat quiet and contained while trying to have an adult conversation with Aunt Donna. During a full-body wrangling of 3 little boys and lunches (undoubtedly a huge struggle) her reliable and darling oldest declares that she is surrounded by idiots! I think I would have lost it too-especially when the lovely daughter, rather than just sweetly explain she was reading a card, pointed out the inconsistency of punishment between children! Yep, I deserved to be grounded. Of course, by that time in my life I should have been prepared for that.
Undoubtedly, there will be moments where Firstborn truly does feel surrounded by idiots- namely his mother. I am sure he will have numerous emotional scars thanks to me. He may even tell the world about them…I hope not, but I’m prepared for it. (At least he will have gotten something from me!) Long before than possibility though, he will most likely find the “That could have been a lot easier” button and use it to drive me out of my mind. I’ll just have to be prepared. In the meantime, I’ll try to find a fitting place for the button to live. Anyone who has driven through Fayetteville could agree that my dashboard is a plausible location. Then when I press it I can channel my mother’s lessons in ‘appropriate yelling at other drivers’ (done politely but so they know they were wrong but won’t be provoked to shoot you).
Ah, Mom’s yelling and driving lessons… but that’s another scarring- I mean story…