In the Parents Lottery, I did pretty damn well. I am not complaining. They’re still married (nearly 50 years), they successfully hid most of their fights from me, and I always felt like they would love me unconditionally (unless, of course, I didn’t get all As, but then, I wouldn’t deserve their love, now would I?).
But though I had Ozzie and Harriet for parents, they still scarred me for life. My mother, for example, has made it nearly impossible for me to enjoy buffet brunches.
Because if I smell or see eggs and syrup at the same time, I gag. This Pavlovian response is as much my mother’s fault as if she kept me in a cage and rang a bell every time she fed me. Which in all fairness, she only did while she was finishing her thesis “Children, Cages and Bells.”
Any good torturer will attest, conditioning is a big part of breaking someone. At least I think so. I’d ask my mother if it’s true, but I she’d be all “I did not torture you” and “No, I’ve never been to GITMO, what the hell are you talking about” blah, blah, blah.
I can reveal her technique, though, and you can be the judge.
Every time my parents hired a babysitter, Mom would make me waffles. To be sure the waffles were extra nutritious, she’d put a fried egg on top. The whole concoction was then covered in syrup, so I loved it, and mom felt like I was eating a healthy meal.
See? She’s a monster.
Maybe offering me “healthy candy” helped assuage Mom’s guilt for dining out and enjoying fondue in her polyester pantsuit when she should have been watching me sing The Brady Bunch theme song into a makeshift microphone made from a toilet plunger. Maybe, instead of enjoying her once a monthly scotch, orange juice & Sweet n’ Low, Mother Dearest should have been watching me enact scenes from The Bionic Woman that I totally made up because my bedtime was earlier than the show’s airtime. I don’t know.
Who knows what goes through the mind of a madwoman?
I had waffles and eggs so many times over the course of my young life, that at some point, I broke. I didn’t realize it until years later, when I caught a whiff of warm syrup bubbling next to an egg station at a brunch, and gagged.
That smell, I thought, my mind racing to place it. I had a flash of sitting over Peter Rabbit printed plates, pushing waffles and eggs through a sea of Aunt Jemima.
Riiight. Waffles and (erk) eggs.
So, think about it.
What have you done today that will ruin your child for life?
Maybe you tucked him lovingly into bed just a little too tightly? Wiped greasy chicken fat from her mouth in front of a crowded restaurant? Maybe… and I hesitate to even mention this… maybe you didn’t shop early enough to buy the “Sunshine Family Family Van” toy and instead left a note from Santa promising to bring it by later?
Remember that Mom?
Oh, I do.