"Why can't you be like other moms?"
I have never claimed to be in the running for Mother of the Year. What's the point? Just as soon as the judges managed to pin the tiara on my head, my children would suddenly remember something they considered horribly embarrassing and demand a recount, thus ending my reign.
Of all of the questions my children have pondered, the one I find most interesting is "Why can't you be like other moms?"
Bless their little hearts.
It seems that they have some concerns about the way I handle myself in public (and in private). Well, excuse me, but if I am going to stand in the grocery store checkout line with a fellow human being for several minutes the least I can do is say hello and ask how their family is doing.
Does it really matter that we may or may not know one another?
Then, if that isn't bad enough, my children don't even want me waving at other drivers. Personally, while traveling along a country road, I find it nice when an oncoming driver sends a friendly wave my way and I like to return the gesture. What my children don't seem to realize or appreciate is that waving while driving is an art.
When I see an approaching vehicle I immediately begin to subconsciously assess the situation. Is it a car or a truck? Is a man or woman driving? Are they young or old? The answers to these questions help determine what type of wave I will send. Generally, a gentleman in a pickup gets the no-nonsense forefinger over the steering wheel wave, while a woman in minivan gets the more feminine friendly side-to-side four finger wave. Older drivers always get the big smile and wave combo, and I never fail to give a big off-the-steering-wheel wave to children on a school bus.
Not just the type of wave, but also the timing of the wave is important. If you wave too soon the other driver won't see it, but if you wave too late you could distract them.
After years of practice, I am now a master waver. I just hope one day my children come to appreciate the small town lifestyle that allows for the ever-friendly drive-by wave.
My children also consider my musical inability to be further evidence of my lack of qualifications for Mother of the Year.
I can carry a tune just fine, but I can never remember the right words to the song. It is my knack for making up new words to old songs that my children find annoying. What I believe is a gift, they think of as a curse.
For instance, Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" is a great one for adapting to the moment.
Sing along with me --"Pretty (or handsome), put your child's name here, sitting in the car (or whatever they might be doing), pretty (or handsome), put your child's name here, how wonderful you are ..." and so forth and so on.
For the full effect, singing loudly is a must; rhyming perfectly is not necessary.
Of course, if you sing, you have to dance, but something as innocent as a slight rhythmic head bob can bring on a tumultuous teen-aged tirade. So, whether it is in the privacy of my own home or while in a vehicle, I can forget about the dancing. It simply causes too much embarrassment.
The next time one of my children asks me, "Why can't you be like other moms?" I may be tempted to ask them, "Why can't you be like other kids?"
Then, again, maybe not.
Being crowned Mother of the Year would be nice, though, especially since I have the waving part down pat.