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.