Friday, September 20, 2013

The brain compartment marked "Mom"

This is a reconstructed conversation, word for word, told to me by my “friend.”

Whenever I begin a conversation with my children they will say, we’ve had this exact conversation a hundred times. This always makes me stop and think.  Really, I’ve brought this up one hundred times? What is wrong with me? So then, in case they are right, I say, well let’s just say I like to talk about this could you indulge me?  And they say, yes we could do that if it didn’t really annoy us that you believe and act on all the shoddy stuff people say when they want to sell you an idea. 

I slap my forehead in thunderstruck recognition.  Gullible as charged.

I try to think what I might look like in their heads.  And that’s when I realize my children think I’m about seven years old.  I say seven because by then you know how to cross the street safely and put on your clothes and eat with a dull knife and fork and generally bathe yourself but you still don’t know when someone is trying to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. (Buying the Brooklyn Bridge is a time-honored metaphor that depicts a naive untried person who believes anything.)  A seven year old would say, “Yipee. Here take all the money in my piggy bank and give me the bridge.”  But even a seven year old might stop a moment and say, “How can you give me the bridge? You can’t lift it because there would be a big hole and it wouldn’t be a bridge.” My children think I don’t know when someone is trying to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge.

Whenever I have to take some action in my life, they say, “This is what you should do.” I'm always a bit surprised that they have a complete answer for any situation. Really.  A complete answer that I had not considered.

I finally went into the children's heads and took a look in the compartment marked “Mom.” There, cowering in the corner was a seven year old and all around her were hucksters and ads with bad ideas.  There were a bunch of sign posts marked "wrong way." There was a big question mark above her head because she didn’t have a clue.  Really, not a clue.  I do recall that I have done things and weathered situations and made important decisions while they were off to college or off to Europe or off  running their lives. 

The one act that is never questioned in that compartment marked “mom” is the food I offer.  They even compliment my food or just eat it greedily which is like a compliment.  One of my children has never taken a plate of food from me without asking, is that meat or those eggs really done? And here I might insert an indispensable philosophical premise: just because something was true one rushed morning in 1983 and it stuck in your head like a piece of bubble gum melted by the summer sun, it doesn’t mean it will be true for the rest of time.  

Remember, this is all stuff that my “friend” told me.


  1. This post is so much fun!
    I love how you capture human nature so succinctly.
    You rock!

    1. You are blatantly biased but thank you. Make sure I'm still alive when my children read this.