When I was growing up, any time I did something that was sort of sneaky, or involved a bad word, or was sarcastic, or told someone to go away and leave me alone, my mom would shake her head and say, “You’re just like your daddy!” Probably a lot of moms say this when their kid acts up. I mean, who wants to look at their child behaving badly and think, “Wow, that kid is just like me.” But after spending some time thinking about it, I think mom was right.
The people who have actually met my dad think he’s a quiet guy, sweet, innocent, and smart. That’s on the surface. By contrast, my mom was the loud one who was overly-honest and would tell it like it is. When we misbehaved growing up, I think most people figured it was “our mom” coming out in us. At home though, when he was around “just us”, he was completely different, and still is. He has this sarcasm gene that he has passed on to me and both my siblings that is fantastic. So much so that my mom always took my Other Half’s side during arguments because she would say “You and your daddy are mean when you get mad. I’m sure whatever he said, you said something terrible first.” She wasn’t usually wrong either, if I’m being honest,.
Also, he dances. And it’s hilarious. Mom always loved when he danced. Now Mary Ann does too. She’s always trying to get him to dance. He watches funny Youtube videos and cracks up at any joke that involves farts or pooping. Mary Ann watched this video with him that is just this lady, over and over, shaking her head a saying, “Sittin’ on the toilet!” And they just crack up.
While I took dad to an appointment today, I pulled out my laptop which is covered in Lilo and Stitch stickers. My Other Half thinks this is childish and does not understand why a grown woman would need Lilo and Stitch stickers all over her laptop. But then I’ve never acted like a grown woman. I think you should find joy wherever you can. My mom taught me that. Plus, I’m pretty sure Stitch is my spirit animal. I can hold it together and behave appropriately when I absolutely have to, but deep down, I’m a mess. I envied my kids when they were smaller and they would cry or throw tantrums. Sure, I corrected them like you’re supposed to. But deep down I thought, “How liberating must it feel to see something that you don’t like and then just lay in the floor and scream about it?” I meant, think about it. I’m pretty sure the need for SSRIs and ulcer treatment would be reduced by fifty percent if we weren’t all so concerned with trying to behave ourselves like society expects.
One time we were eating dinner in a restaurant, and Benjamin Button was starving. He has always been on the small side, and whenever he would “act a fool” as my mom would say, she would make the excuse that he probably had low blood-sugar and it was my fault for not giving him enough snacks. Anyway, we’re sitting there….and sitting there….and sitting there….and it has been maybe 30 or 35 minutes and the food still hasn’t come out. It finally does, and Benjamin takes one bite and spits it out in his plate. Then this look of rage comes over his face and he picks up the chicken tenders and squishes them both in his little fists. My Other Half says, “Benjamin, what is your problem?” And Benjamin yells, “This chicken is nasty!”
Then he throws it across the table, knocks over the salt and pepper shakers, and also the little silver napkin holder. “How would you like it if you were starving and you waited 30 minutes for your food and then it got here and it was nasty!?” My Other Half was not amused. He escorted Benjamin away from the table to hit the reset button. But seriously, if you as an adult have never felt like Benjamin Button, then you’re a better person than me. I’ve been there. And you know what? After he got it all out, he could move on with his life. No depression. No gastric ulcer. Just moved on with his life. Being a kid must be really nice that way.
Back to the stickers. While we’re waiting at the appointment, and I pull out the laptop, I tell my dad, “Other Half thinks these stickers are ridiculous.” And dad smiles and says, “I have Three Stooges stickers all over mine.” This makes me smile. Apparently, in addition to my anxiety, fatty liver, sarcasm, and need to have a certain number of hours every week of “alone time”, I also inherited a love for stickers that bring joy. I might be just like my daddy. But I take it as a compliment.