Baby Boomer Babbling-er-Musings

I'm from the baby boomer generation. I have a mop of white hair, courtesy of my gene pool. And a botox-free face that sports frown lines in the forehead and around the eyes. Love handles instead of a waistline. Can't say I'm exactly crazy about any of these old age indicators but I accept them with grace. And now I've lived long enough now that I ponder on a lot of things, new and old.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Day We Drove Our Mama Over the Edge

It was a day that now lives in infamy – well, at least in our family.  Although we often laugh about what happened on that hot summer day, at the time the only ones who saw the humor in it was me and my little brother, Garry.  And that was only for a split second just before Mama told us to wipe those smiles off our faces.

Garry and I had been out of school for over two months.  It was back in the 1960s when school ended no later than the first day or two of June and it would be the day after Labor Day in September before we were back in school again.  Although she never said so, I now know that my dear stay-at-home Mama had always looked forward to Labor Day.  And not because we would have a cookout in the backyard with the neighbors and make homemade ice cream and split watermelons.  After three months of being at home - day-in and day-out - with me and my brother, my poor mama was more than ready for school to begin.

Garry and I spent our early childhood years participating in a lot of arguments and slap fights.  Once Garry realized he could get under my skin (stupid of me to let it show), then he would deliberately provoke me.  And if I’m going to be honest, I liked to pick on him simply because I was older and bigger. 

 “Mama, she hit me.”  “Did not.”  “Did, too.”  “Maaaama, make her stop hitting me.”  Smack.  Slap.  “Owwww!  Maaaaaama!!”

“You are so ugly.”  “Am not.”  “Are, too.”  “You stink like a skunk.”  “Do not!”  “Do, too.”  Slap.  Smack.  “Owww!”  “Maaama!”  “Owwww!”   Slap.  Slap.  Smack.  Smack.  “Maaaama!” 

We deliberately pushed boundaries to see how much we could get away with and just for the pleasure of annoying each other.  Our parents would only put up with so much so we both had our fair share of hickory switches to the back of the legs, spankings on the bottom, and stern reprimands.

But something was different on this particular August day.  Who knows why we were confined to the house.  It may have been raining or it could have been simply too hot outside.  In those days the temperatures frequently tipped over the 100-degree mark.  Regardless, I’m sure our poor Mama was feeling haggard from the rising heat and humidity.  And Garry and I weren’t  helping things with our constant bickering. 

As Mama tells it, we had been fussin’ and fightin’ all day.  She had already refereed several arguments and slap fights.  I remember that Mama was off in the other room when Garry and I got into it over something.  Again.  It quickly escalated into a slap fight and finally one of us ended up hurt and started whining.  “Maaaama!”

It was the wrong thing to do.  When our mama came into the living room, she looked like a wild woman.  Well, not really, but that’s how it seemed to us at the time.  When she spoke, she enunciated each word as if it were a sentence of its own.  I.  am.  sick.  of.  this!  You kids are driving me crazy!  You want fight?  Do you?  Do you? 

We didn’t answer, both of us looking at her like deer in the headlights.  Since it was a rhetorical question and we knew better than to say a word, Mama spat out the words, “Well, fine!  You got it!”

The heat of our argument vanished immediately.  What was Mama doing?  We looked briefly at each other, but didn’t say anything as our eyes moved back to her.  This was a person we had never seen before, not in our entire short lives.

She picked up toys, opened the door to the screen porch and slung them out there.  And slammed the door.  Hard.  Then she angrily moved the coffee table over against the wall.  The small rug in the middle of the floor was flung over near the front door.  Then she turned her steely blue eyes on us.  Uh-oh.  We had no clue what was going on, but we knew it couldn’t be good.

She grabbed Garry in one hand by his upper arm and then used her other hand to grab my upper arm.  She dragged us a few feet to the center of our now cleared living room.  Then she pushed us together, chest to chest.  All we could do was stare at each other.  What?

“Fight!”  Our heads swiveled in unison toward Mama.  “I said fight!  You two have been fighting all summer and I am sick of it!  You want fight?  Well, fight it out!  Fight now!  Get it out of your system!”  Her voice had reached a high pitch.

Garry and I stared at each other and both started grinning.  This was just too funny.  “Wipe those smiles off  your faces right now!”  In a split second we did as we were told.  She ranted on, “I. Said. I. Want. You. To. Fight!  Fight it out now and then I don’t want to hear another one out of either of you again!”

We just stared at each other.  All we could think is who was this woman?  When Mama realized we weren’t going to fight, it was like all the heat deflated out of her.  Wordlessly she put the rug and furniture back in its place and stalked out of the room.

Garry and I sat down on the sofa next to each other and grinned.  Then we started whispering to each, bonding over the fact that Mama had obviously lost her mind.  There were no more fights that day.  Nor any until school started back that September (or at least none that we let Mama hear).  By creating a boxing ring in our living room that summer day, our Mama had accomplished in a matter of minutes what hickory switches had failed to do that entire summer. 

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1 comment:

  1. Hillarious. I remember a day almost the same with my sister...funny how parents are, no matter where in the world they are.

    I learned very well from my mother...I pulled the same thing on them when they were kids.


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