Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Don't Like My Mom's Rules

My four-year-old daughter is testing me these days and, if I’m being honest, I’m not passing the class. It escalates quick, a full pot boiling over to burn a black ring on the stove as an outline. It goes south and I am left to use the scratchy side of the sponge and lots of vinegar and hot water, wearing myself out trying to clean up my mess.
I’m impatient. She back talks. I reprimand. Next thing you know I’m carrying her down the hall, her arms and legs flailing as she wrestles the demon I blessed her with before birth. My dad shakes his head and backs me up, although later he will tell me I am too heavy-handed. “I’m met this little girl before,” he says. “And I thought her mom was hard on her too.”
“Then what?” I ask. He doesn’t answer, maybe because we have a thirty-two year history of me plugging my ears or maybe because I really have to do this on my own. So I turn and walk away, my eyes filling with tears and my stomach filling with bile, acidic reminder that I am out of my league, above the tree line without a coat or compass.
I wake up each morning and ask for grace to steward the gifts I have been given. Like the parable of the talents, I am hoping for a good investment with multiplied returns. And I am mindful of the words spoken to the one who buried his gold in fear. “Away from me you wicked, lazy servant.” So they begin with breakfast and I with coffee and prayer. Cervantes says, “Time ripens all things. No man’s born wise.” But I seriously wonder if I have enough time to get this thing right.
Grandma steps in to soothe. “I don’t like my mom’s rules,” my daughter tells her. And the truth is I don’t like them either. But I also don’t like eggplant, which I have eaten on a few occasions because I have good manners, which I learned from my mother.

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