I sometimes catch myself saying things I have heard before. I will be talking to Simone and Nadia and blurt out: A hard head makes for a soft behind. Or, are you listening to me? Or, don’t make me come back there. It is at those times that I know I am somehow channeling Mom. She said those same things to me, and I, like many children, swore I would not grow up and say them to my children.
Mom was hopelessly flawed. For starters, she made a career out of drinking and cursing. When I look back on my childhood, which I do more often these days as I help raise Simone and Nadia, it is her lessons, not her flaws, that float to the top of my memory.
Mom was hard on my brother and me. She consulted with a belt on the few occasions we did not listen, and she delivered kisses, hugs and words of praise when we made her proud. She watched out for us. I remember one day when my brother came home crying. Some children around the block had been pushing him around. Mom bolted out of the house and up the street. When those kids saw the angry skinny lady coming their way, they scattered like roaches. My brother was not embarrassed Mom came to his rescue. It was just another way she showed him she loved him.
I can see myself doing the same thing for Simone and Nadia. I thought about that this week after a Milwaukee teacher cut a student’s hair, and the mother and daughter were featured on the news. If that had happened to me, Mom would have made sure the teacher had a lot less hair that day. She worked hard to make sure I looked presentable and that included brushing and combing my hair every day. I would like to say I would restrain myself in such a situation, but I know the police would have been called. Every time I send Simone and Nadia out in the world I send a little piece of me with them. I certainly do not send them to preschool or anywhere else so an adult can tear down the self-esteem we have built together.
The Milwaukee teacher needs a psychological evaluation. Children know how to annoy adults. It is part of their job description. Some days I think Simone and Nadia are pushing all of my buttons. That does not mean I can forget I am an adult and they are children.