Tale Tues: How I Crushed My Child

It’s not often I’m tongue-tied in front of my own children. Usually only when they ask big questions, like how did God come to be alive? Where does space end?

But faced with Little Bro’s super disappointed as well as super disgusted look, I was left speechless. Because I missed it. I forgot. I didn’t remember it at all, until I was picking up Little Bro from school and he put on that look only a child can wear to perfection.

I’d missed his Biography Day presentation when he was to dress up as a famous American, and read lines off five index cards. It actually wasn’t the look that reminded me so much as the glasses – old wire-rimmed sunglasses that we’d punched the lenses out of for his Steve Job costume (easy, right? Glasses and black turtleneck).

“How could I? Miss it?” I asked my mother the next day over the phone, still recovering from having crushed my child. And from the equally-disturbing-if-not-more-so fact, that it was marked right there, on my wall calendar:

The only excuse I had and the one I had blubbered to my blubbering disappointed and disgusted son, was that I hadn’t written it in purple as I had everything else:

That hadn’t stopped the blubbering. Little Bro is an astute seven year old, and knows a poor excuse when he hears one. Because the biography show-and-tell thing had been on a day when I thought I had nothing to do! That is, besides Big Bro having to be at school early for his advanced math enrichment program (marked in purple). Nowhere I had to be; I don’t have the excellent excuse of being a working mom; no dog vaccine appointments; no ortho appointments; no Target or Stop& Shop runs! I did have to clean very dirty bathrooms which I would put off doing anyway, as I preferred to be in complete denial and think I had nothing to do. (It especially helps that I have terrible handwriting and often can’t read what’s on my calendar anyway).

“You have a lot on your plate,” my mother had soothed, as only a mother can – and an especially elderly one who takes up a large portion of the plate; also scribbled in purple marker are the days I need to remind her how many Coumadin pills to take; her own doctor appointments; when the mobile blood lab will be coming to draw more blood to test those Coumadin levels; scribbled on the days I go visit, are reminders of what I need to do once there – gather her tax 1099s, find her glasses, stop for kitty litter, clean out rotting food from fridge, check toilet paper supply.

As much as my mother has become so dependent on me, I love those moments when she can still be my mom and tell me something I need to hear. That I did have a lot on my plate. Which might possibly cause brain freeze. Or temporary blindness when staring at wall calendars.

Still, to a seven year old, talking plate metaphors is hardly reassuring and only confusing, so I didn’t even try. I only asked how I could make it up to him.

And this is what sucker moms can get sucked into: a new Skylander and his favorite, watermelon sherbet topped with gummy bears at Friendlys.

By sucker I mean later finding out from his teacher that there was some inflation to his story about being left to sit alone in a corner; how no one listened to him read off his five index cards, and all the other parents brought “big wrapped gifts” for their kids as congratulatory presents (I didn’t quite fall for that one).

The fact is, it had been pulling teeth to get Little bro to write those index cards.  Maybe because he decided to go with whom his brother had been the year before, Steve Jobs. And I may be feeling jaded, having attended the same biography performance last year for Big Bro. It had seemed a circus; each child sitting at his desk, in his costume, reading off five index cards about why he is famous; parents making the rounds of each famous person, pretending to listen to what they couldn’t hear anyway, as each child mumbled into their hands. The final effect of a roomful of mumblers is white noise.

But in the face of Little Bro’s disappointment, when he was fully expecting me to be there as I had planned and promised, yes. This mom can be a sucker, and perhaps go overboard to make it up to the Little Bro who can tend to fall into the shadow of more-demanding-attention-seeking Big Bro. Raising two boys only seventeen months apart can be a delicate balancing act – like on a high wire. Sometimes I teeter and totter and actually fall off, in my constant struggle to assure them that they are loved equally.

To make Mommy feel even more crappy, Nice Teacher has to email great photos of all the students, including mine which I didn’t get to witness in person:

To see that he looks far more like Harry Potter than any Steve Jobs, anyway.




About Sandra

Author;editor of The Woven Tale Press at thewoventalepress.net; mother; weaver
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29 Responses to Tale Tues: How I Crushed My Child

  1. Wonderful story! It is sad when something very important to a child is not remembered, but we are human. I remember one time that I forgot to pick my oldest daughter up so she wouldn’t have to ride the bus home. It was one of those rare days that I was off work and just go so involved in cleaning the house that I didn’t even think about until I seen the bus run by my home without stopping. I about had a heart attack. I called everybody I could think of where she might have went. To further my humiliation she had called her grandpa, (my ex-father-in-law), to come pick her up. They were punishing me for forgetting by not calling and letting me know.

    • Sandra says:

      thank you! Really. that makes me feel better. I wish I could say I at least was involved in cleaning the house…I was totally lazy that day, didn’t do anything except sit on my lounge and go online! Shameful!

  2. Yeah, that would be one of those major oops moments. How to make it up to him? I don’t know, maybe do a little groveling and fix his favorite dinner to take him to his favorite movie.

  3. Now I know why you seem to have been incommunicado lately – you’ve been beating yourself up in silence and waiting for your red face to cool! When I was a freshman in college, I was living at home and on a really cold, snowy day, my mother was supposed to pick me up at noon and I waited and I waited and I froze to death, and then I finally started hiking across campus in completely inadequate shoes to a nearby drugstore to call her and see what was going on (no cellphones back then). About halfway there, I looked back and saw the car go by. So I rushed back, and, frankly, I can’t remember how we finally got together, but I do know I was very annoyed! She said she got busy doing something and forgot. And my mother never did things like that! She had the best memory of anybody I’ve ever known! I can’t recall any other time she didn’t do what she said she would do. And of course I don’t have any children, so I’m a saint! LOL
    Sandra, did you read that I’ve quit driving and got rid of my car? I told you once I would know when the time came!

    • Sandra says:

      Really? You gave up driving? You’re still so young! I missed that post, can you send me the URL? That’s amazing that you could admit that it was “time.” My mother, at 94, still doesn’t understand how they could be so “cruel” as to “jail” her in her own house without being able to drive. Though I totally sympathize with the jailed feeling. How are you going to get around?

      • (I’m not trying to steal the thunder from your problem, because I know how important it is to you. Just thought you might be interested.)
        You remember I slipped on the ice and broke a rib. That fall really did make my arthritis worse. http://termitewriter.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-saga-of-icy-porch-continues.html
        Here’s the follow-up post that pertains to my quitting driving: http://termitewriter.blogspot.com/2013/03/help-i-think-my-computer-is-dying-plus.html (My computer turned out to be OK after all – it likely was an internet problem.) I imagine your mother enjoyed driving more than I did. I never liked to drive anyway. I have a friend who likes to do things for me and after I get myself back into walking shape, I can walk to the shopping center, which is a 12-block round trip. I can’t carry anything to speak of, but I can pick up medicine, get my hair cut, etc., and of course the exercise is beneficial And I also often take taxis.

        • Sandra says:

          Well cars are like another child, a lot of maintenance! So sorry you had that fall. But you will come out of it. Every fall my mother has sets her back but she does recover. She’s been doing physical therapy which has really strengthened her.

  4. I think those little life lessons are very good in the long run for your children. You are not only fallible, but also entitled to an hour off once in a while. I forgot the occasional important childhood event and used those lapses to explain that people will sometimes let you down without meaning to. It doesn’t mean they aren’t loved, it doesn’t mean that you don’t care, it only means that the world does not revolve around the child. That’s an important lesson too 🙂

    • Sandra says:

      So well put. And exactly along my own beliefs — except I didn’t act on those beliefs because this is a child who is quiet, no trouble (really!) and it bothered me that I forgot his event; I’ve never forgotten his brothers’ million school events!

    • Kat Morris says:

      I totally agree. My mother was a childminder, and one day when I was about 7 came to school to pick me along with all the many children she was taking care of. She collected all the others but left me. I had to go back into school and wait for her. I still remember it vividly but yes, I do think it taught me that people make mistakes and mummy has many other things to worry about.

      So Sandra, it really seems that you’re not alone!

  5. I totally can resonate with you. Once I forgot to pick up my girls on their early dismissal day and they had to wait in the office and be the last kids home. I kicked myself for doing eventhough I claimed they were(are) always on my mind. So, don’t be so hard on yourself because there will always be another chance. Next time, put them on your smart phone with two reminders, the day before and one hour before and an email reminder 🙂

  6. AmyMorgan says:

    I too have had those moments of forgetting and the self punishment. But, I also pointed out to Abe that parents are humans too and yes, we make mistakes. Doesn’t mean we don’t love them. Do I still beat myself up about stuff with him (he’s now 24) yes, I do. But not as much as I used to, so I’m making progress. So glad your mom was there to give the encouragement and love you needed at that moment! 🙂

  7. Tea says:

    Crushing kids is one of the things I do best. I don’t even buy my way back into their good graces, so I think you’re way ahead of the game.

  8. Anne says:

    Don’t beat yourself up over this. I know it’s awful but situations like these can teach us something. That we act on whatever learning we got is what’s important. Hope you and your son got a chance to talk about it.

  9. Brenda says:

    Sandra – there is no such think as motherhood perfection, we do the best that we can. Watch Mermaids, with Cher and Wyonna Rider. I thought it was a great story on being a mom.

  10. My mom forgot a lot of promises she made when I was much younger. And she still does, and I think does it more now that I’m an adult. Maybe it’s the aging process? hehe

    We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. There is no perfect mom, unless a mutant mom exists??? But well, I’ve never been a mom so I don’t really know how it is to be in your shoes. So, *hugs* to you. 🙂

  11. Oh man.

    I’ve done this a time or to.

    I guess we should focus on the all the times we remembered!



    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

    This was a cute post!

  12. I once missed my son’s championship baseball game. I had been looking forward to it all day and had a last minute file dropped on my desk. I started working on it without even thinking about it and got home late. I didn’t remember until I got home and no one was there. I immediately knew. I felt horrible.

    Dropping in from A to Z Challenge. It’s my first year participating.

    Brett Minor
    Transformed Nonconformist

  13. Kathy says:

    This too shall pass. If I had been you I would have went all out to make it up to him too. It is all part of being human and just the way things go sometimes. No one is perfect.


  14. Jenny says:

    Yea I’ve missed a few things here and there as well. Kinda felt bad about it. But I just tell myself DONT FORGET AGAIN!

    I’m sorry you missed his presentation. You could always have him read it to you at home 😛 It’s not the same but it’s like a one on one you’re all his kinda thing!

  15. At least you had the sympathy mum, mine would be more accusing than my child.

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