I have four kids – three boys and a girl. They are gorgeous. I’m not just saying that because I’m their mom, honestly. They are really just beautiful.
And they all sort of look the same, you know, they “favor” each other, as my southern mother-in-law would say. You’d think since they all “had the same face” as a neighbor kid once described them, that onlookers would all be on the same side of the gender call. So why no one could ever get their gender right when they were toddlers remains a mystery to me.
It started with my oldest, Alex. Good lord, huge blue eyes, blonde loose curls, a smile (even the toothless one) that would melt you. With that description, I know you’re thinking, well, he kinda sounds like a girl. Fine. I’ll give you that. But when he’s covered from head to toe in fire trucks and John Deere tractors and the little old lady in the grocery store still says, “She’s so pretty!” I have to wonder. About her.
Then came Andrew. Green eyes, soft brown curls, and dimples. In both cheeks. “Oh, my word, she’s so pretty!” Yeah, and she’s all about dressing up like a COWBOY, too. Check out her six-shooter, lady. Good grief.
So, what happened to Madeline? Well, that little cue-ball had huge green eyes and an infectious giggle, but, alas, no hair. Only a smattering of reddish-blonde fuzz until she was 2 1/2.
“Look at him, he’s so cute!”
Cute in a he-likes-to-wear-frilly-white-tights-with-his-fluffy-pink-dress-and-bow-velcroed-to-his-head sort of way. I kid you not. She called my living doll a “boy.”
I wish I could say the gender confusion stopped there. It didn’t.
Asher, my youngest, has the most beautifully thick curly hair and milk-chocolate brown eyes framed in long, lush eyelashes. He’s ten years old.
Today, yes, TODAY, while sitting on the front porch counting trucks, a woman spreading the word of God asked me what “her” name was. Asher was wearing grey sweat pants, a grey Abercombie polo, and Diego tennis shoes.
I thought of all sorts of smart-assy things to say: “We call him ‘Bubby.’ It’s short for Beelzebub.” “We don’t believe in names. We’ve given ‘it’ a number instead.”
But “Sharon” was a woman of God and I didn’t want an even faster ticket to Hell, so I just smiled and said, “Ashley.”
Score one for God.
I’m not afraid of the dentist. Honestly. I’ve never has a bad experience at the dentist so there’s really no reason for me to not like going.
Wait. Does talking to you while you have a mouthful of metal, tools, and other people’s hands count as a bad experience?
Why is that? And I’m not just talking about a monologue where he details his latest golfing adventure. I’m talking about a fully involved two-way conversation:
Him: So what do you have planned for this summer? Going anywhere exciting?
Me: Umph, ooogglllurgle, uuhh aaagghh.
Me: AH U EEGIN IDDDIN EEE??!??!
Yeah, my dentist is hilarious.
Sometimes I say words or phrases that require translation. Here are a few. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
Cheese and rice: (adjective) A veiled attempt to disguise using the Lord’s name in vain. I actually stole this from a five-year-old. It’s awesome and it keeps me out of Hell.
Dancing bear: (adjective/noun): A term used to describe lack of grace, typically aimed at my daughter who broke her wrist tripping over her own feet. She has also gotten a comb stuck in her hair.
Dippity-dop: (noun) A moron. “Dippity-dop over there blinks and thinks it a new day.”
Halo: (noun) The one clear spot in the sky when the surrounding areas are dark and ominous. Can only be used when referring to the exact spot YOU are standing, e.g. “We’re at the concert venue waiting for Chuck Wicks to take the stage. Don’t let the weather fool you: we are in the HALO right now at the Fish House.”
Halio: (adjective) A feeble attempt to avoid saying the word “Hell.” For example, upon seeing my son riding his skateboard in the house I might say, “What the halio?” Or I might just say, “What the HELL?”
Sha-dang-diddl-ee: (adjective) An expletive. “I don’t give a sha-dang-diddl-ee what you wear.” Can be used in conjunction with additional adjectives and nouns for emphasis. “I don’t give a flying sha-dang-diddl-ee squat what you wear!” Notice the required use of an exclamation point in the second example. THAT’S the power of sha-dang-diddl-ee.
Thingiddy-bop: (noun) A thing. “Put your whatsy-whooz-it on the thingiddy-bop.”
Twitterverse: (noun) The world of Twitter. It is comprised of “Planet Twitter” and it’s orbiting moons Tweet, Twit, and Twat… wait, no, that’s not right…
Whatsy-whooz-it: (noun) An object. See “thingiddy-bop.”
Whoozy-whats-it: (noun) A person. This is typically reserved for someone whose name I have forgotten, typically my children’s friends but sometimes my children as well.
Yesterday was a sharp reminder of the power of a sincere apology. And the need for genuine forgiveness.
My youngest son, Asher, is ten-years-old. He has epilepsy and cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair so his school bus picks him up in front of our house every morning.
Yesterday, as my husband was helping load Asher and his chair onto the bus, a young woman drove her car slowly past the his stopped bus. She knew what she was doing. She caught my husband’s eye as she approached the end of the bus and he watched her drive through the intersection and away.
I wish I could tell you this was an unusual occurrence, but unfortunately it happens at least once a month, Someone is too busy, in too much of a hurry to stop while a bus is loading or unloading kids. What happened next, however, was totally out of the norm.
About an hour later, we heard a knock at the front door. It was the woman who had driven past the bus. She was shaking.
“I am so sorry for what I did. It was so disrespectful to your son and your family.”
We were in stunned.
“I was in a hurry, I was running late, I knew I should have stopped – that’s why I went so slowly – but all I was thinking about was where I needed to be. I am so sorry.”
I wanted to hug her.
Yes, she had absolutely done something wrong. She had, in fact, broken the law. But I have never encountered someone with such pain and remorse. I couldn’t believe she had the shear guts to come to our door to apologize not knowing the reaction she might get from us – especially knowing she would most likely encounter a man and not even knowing I was home.
What really hit me was that she was taking full responsibility for her actions. How often does that happen? This lady broke the law but was willing to own up and face whatever consequences we threw at her.
She was on our doorstep, physically shaking with anguish at what she had done. She needed to hear she was forgiven.
“Thank you so much. I really appreciate that,” my husband told her.
She smiled, weakly but gratefully, apologized again, and left.
I think all of us came away from that experience better for it and with a deep appreciation for the power of being human.
I love being from the south. Which is funny because I’m not really from the south at all. I’m not really “from” any where.
Nine years ago I was “from” Las Vegas. Four years before that, Pensacola (the first time). Prior to P’cola, I was a seventeen-year Texan. When I moved to Texas in 1977, I SWORE I would never utter the phrase “ya’ll.” No respectable Mile-Higher would ever say anything other than “you guys.” And before I became an Orange-Crush-Loving Bronco fan, I lived in an igloo in Alaska with a polar bear for a pet. At least that’s what my 4th-grade classmates thought at Aurora Elementary when I told them I had moved to Denver from Anchorage.
But even with all my “worldly” travels, I have spent the better part of my life in the south. Even Las Vegas qualifies (it’s just a smidge north of 36 degrees latitude). And I’ve absorbed a bit of each southern city I’ve had the privilege of calling home.
From Texas I learned strength and confidence, how to make tamales and love grits, and proper hat and boot etiquette. In Florida, I learned true southern hospitality, how to surf, and what a REAL beach should look like. And Vegas taught me I could be rough and dusty on the edges one day and glam it up like a rock star the next and not lose myself in the process. I’ve fully embraced the southern culture.
So even though I’m not really from the south, I call myself a southerner. The best part? My truly southern (born, raised, and never left) friends accept me as their own. It’s the southern way.
I went to pick Madeline up from school today and happened to be there right as her class was filing down the hall from lunch. Three, THREE different kids uttered these words: “Oh my god, Maddie, is that your mom?” Followed by varying expressions of “Awww, she’s so cute,” and “Oh my god, you’re taller than her,” etcetera. I felt like a hamster. No, wait… a gerbil. Gerbils are smaller than hamsters.
Madeline put her arm gently around my shoulder and patted me softly, like a tiny little pet. Yeah, that helps.
The best part of entire middle school experience, however, was when one of the teachers asked me for my hall pass. I turned around to see her face redden half from embarrassment and half, I’m sure, in astonishment. “Oh, Ms. Andrews, I’m so sorry, I thought you were one of the students,” she stammered, “you should actually be flattered!” (insert nervous laughter here).
Oh yep, flattered for sure. Just like a gerbil.