I am not your mother

by CountryFriedMama on September 21, 2011

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I am not your mother. What is it to me if you yawn out loud in class, your mouth uncovered and stretched wide? What do I care if you make that sound — ahhhhhhhhh — so that those in front of you and behind look up from their notetaking to watch you? I am not your mother. But listen. That guy at the front of the room might have a fancy title and a bunch of books on the shelf at the university store, but he is still a human being. He worked hard on this lecture. For you. Cover your mouth and learn something.

I am not your mother. And you? You are most likely a genius. I’d guess you aced your SATs. You probably speak three languages, play the cello professionally and run a small non-profit in your free time. But it seems kind of stupid to ride your bike in traffic without a helmet on, Mister. I am not your mother, but don’t you hear that fire truck speeding up behind you? No? I guess it’s because of those earbuds you’re wearing.

I am not your mother. Your mother is probably sitting in her kitchen in New Jersey or Texas or Washington state. She might be drinking her coffee this morning, imagining you walking across campus wearing one of the button down shirts she bought you over the summer, before she packed all of your belongings into the car and drove you hundreds of miles to college, where she left you on your own for the first time, a lump in her throat as she drove away. I am not your mother, but would she be happy to see you wearing that I am the man from Nantucket T-shirt? Would she?

I am not your mother. It’s not my place to peer over your shoulder as you surf the Web, IM your roommate and peruse photos from New York fashion week when you should be listening to this lecture about the origins of the dagguereotype. Don’t you realize how much this is costing your parents? Don’t you realize college does not last forever and you should soak up every bit of this, because one day you will have a boss and a spouse and kids and a to-do list you can never complete and this is your one chance to just spend your days filling up your brain?

Did I just say that out loud? Oops. Sorry. Aren’t you glad I’m not your mother?

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This is the way we go to school

by CountryFriedMama on September 8, 2011

On her first day of school in the city, The Belle strapped her sandals on, picked out a bow to match her dress, and set off on foot with her backpack secured to her shoulders. Having known only suburban-style travel to school (not Suburban, but suburban), The Belle saw excitement in every part of her journey.

At the bus stop, The Belle asked her mother about the bus route, the route number, the other people waiting for the bus, and how one might be lucky enough to one day get to drive the bus. She told people hurrying by, I’m going on the bus! Clutching their coffee mugs and their aloofness, few paused to acknowledge her, but the kinder ones smiled.

The bus came, and The Belle found a seat near the front window. Her backpack pushed her body forward on the plastic chair and her legs stuck straight out into the aisle. As the bus sped into a tunnel, The Belle yelled, whee! She yelled whee! some more as she got on the escalator coming out of the station.

Once again above ground, The Belle took three steps along the sidewalk, then asked her mother, Are we there yet?

They weren’t there yet.

But they were at an intersection crowded with workers and construction equipment and police officers and college students heading off to shop for classes. When it was her turn to cross the street, The Belle stopped in the crosswalk to answer a police officer’s question. Is today your first day at college? he asked her. NO! she yelled, so he could hear her above the din. I RODE THE BUS! The police officer expressed more enthusiasm about this than most of the commuters had. The Belle said, POLICE ARE GOOD.

She walked on. And on. She walked very, very slowly on.

When she finally arrived at school, The Belle asked her mother to play at the painting table, at the clay center, in the kitchen area. Then The Belle forgot about her mother and got involved with some blocks and some children, who also heard her story about having ridden the bus.

Everyday, The Belle rides the bus to school with her mother or father. She now knows the bus route, the bus number and acceptable bus behavior. And more than a couple of others who ride the bus know when they see her, that she will exclaim — as she did on her first day — I’m going on the bus!

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For your third birthday: a brand new life!

August 23, 2011

Someone asked me today about the CFM logo emblazoned on my laptop, and I dismissed it as a little project of a bored, housebound mutha. I don’t know why I did that. It’s not little. And I’m not bored. In fact, I am so far from bored at the moment that I think I might [...]

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When you see my children on the subway

August 20, 2011

A free, informative pamphlet for strangers Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read this guide, “When You See My Children On The Subway.” These quick tips will help you (and me) have a more enjoyable ride together through the underbelly of the city. If you happen to encounter my children on the subway, [...]

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My favorite cooking apps for urban camping

August 16, 2011

We moved into our new home yesterday — not a house exactly, but home for the next year. By city standards, it is probably on the large side. By suburban standards, it seems kind of like a camp cabin. The dark wood paneling in every tiny room and the faint musty smell contribute to that [...]

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10 signs I’m not in Alabama anymore

August 3, 2011

The girls and I are staying with my mom for a couple of weeks while we wait for Country-Fried Daddy to drive north and for our new home (an apartment on a  crowded city block) to be ready. In the few days we’ve been here, one thing has become extremely clear: this ain’t Alabama. Here’s [...]

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Notes from a hotel room

July 29, 2011

I’m listening to the girls giggle together on a tiny pullout couch in a hotel room in Birmingham. I’m trying to be stern. We’ve had a long day, and tomorrow, we must find a way to get through two airports without losing their 500 I-can’t-fly-without-these toys or each other (or our minds). It’s hard to [...]

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No offense to John Steinbeck

July 13, 2011

The first paragraph of John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row” reads like this: Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and [...]

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Make more money faster on Craigslist

July 7, 2011

This is, by far, the strangest move I’ve ever planned, and I’ve moved a fair bit. We’re leaving Alabama for one year to live in a city apartment full of someone else’s stuff. We’re bringing clothes, shoes, favorite toys, important papers and not much else. This means the bulk of what we have will sit [...]

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How to motivate beginner swimmers

June 29, 2011

Country-Fried Daddy tells an inspirational story about learning how to swim. He reminded me recently, as I lamented the apparent futility of Miss D.’s swimming lessons, that he didn’t learn how to swim until he was 12. How is that possible? I asked him. You were an Eagle Scout. The Boy Scouts let you get [...]

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