What Would Suze Orman Do?

Do you know who Suze Orman is? A week ago I would have said yes but the real answer was really no. Suze Orman’s name and image are like a lot of those ubiquitous things that I choose to ignore, like the Harry Potter books ( although I did watch the movies) and McDonalds, and children’s extracurricular activities. But back in January or February when I was underemployed my aunt said that Suze Orman was coming to Bermuda in May and that she and I NEEDED to go. I agreed, I needed to go especially in my current state but I wasn’t really in the place to pay $40.00 for a ticket, so she offered to buy mine for me. So there it sat Saturday May 10th, Suze Orman’s name in my calendar. If you would have asked me to describe her I would have said,

“She’s that finance lady.” But I had never actually listened to her. This past Saturday was my chance. My aunt Ann and I piled into her van and set off, both admitting we were tired and weren’t sure we wanted to go, but we had the tickets, it was an investment we couldn’t miss. I wonder if Ann hadn’t bought the ticket if I would have gone?

“How long do you think it will last?” I asked.

“I think it will be from 2 until about 4.”

“Two hours! “ I said in shock. The only thing that I had enough attention span to last for two hours was a NAP.

“Are there comfortable seats in the auditorium?”

“I think so.”

I imagined drifting off to sleep while 800 people discussed percentage points and things I didn’t understand like annuities. What the hell is an annuity? I would drift happily to sleep slumped in my chair, happy to have two hours away from a toddler because as a newish mother I really didn’t live in the future or the past anymore. My life was firmly grounded in the present between cooking an organic Applegate sausage to taking out the dirty overnight diapers, boiling eggs, trying to get my work done and carving out an hour to write this blog. Hmmmmm. I was in for a surprise.

When she walked out on stage I raised an eyebrow, she was magnetic and she hadn’t even started to speak. When she started to talk to us I realized she was more than magnetic she was funny. I like funny people, suddenly sleep dropped on the priority list. Then she continued, wow- she had actually done her homework, she was interested and knowledgeable about Bermuda and how we were different from the United States. I always felt a bit helpless here and I didn’t know how to find financial advice from someone who isn’t trying to sell you something you can’t afford to buy. But here she was, Suze Orman, with her perfect news anchor hairstyle and power outfit, speaking directly to me, and 800 other financially irresponsible Bermudians. She was empowering, no-nonsense, and logical and I felt like I came out of there three hours later with a total perspective shift.

This was my takeaway.

Number 1: Pay off the credit card debit.

I don’t have any of that, but only because what I do have is a husband but if I want to keep the husband, I need to:

  1. Stop accumulating credit card debt.

Number 2: Have an 8 month security fund. I don’t have that, but I do have a husband, but if I want to keep the husband I need to:

  1. Save for my own 8 month security fund.

Number 3: Invest in your pension. A pension? What’s that? I have a husband, does that count? NO!

  1. Accumulate my own personal savings in a pension.

Saving? I thought that was something I had to do for my daughter’s college fund not for my pension. I’ll never retire anyway. No.

  1. Save for yourself, your child’s education comes second.

“Finances” is one of those three syllable words that I totally tune out to, but not anymore. I need to be more diligent, I need to learn about this foreign world and take responsibility for my future before it’s too late.

Then Suze, said something else. She was talking to me, it was like she saw me routing around for ten minutes, in my Mary Poppins purse trying to find my cell phone to turn it off at the beginning of the talk.

“If your office is a mess, if your kitchen is a mess, if your closet is a mess, then YOU are a mess. “ She said.

“I am a mess, Suze, I really am a mess Suze!” I thought.

“Prioritize, get your life in order, empower your self.” She said.

“Loud and clear, Suze.” I thought.

So now I am a Suze Orman fan/convert and I am vowing to have more financial responsibility, think long term so that when I get old, Eva won’t be burdened by my needs any more than she will be burdened by my personality.

So today I took pictures of my kitchen, my office and my closet. It’s pretty bad. Lots of room for improvement, like my bank account.

Kitchen… yes that is my purse spilling out onto the table, yes that is an open bottle of organic ketchup and a full ( not for long ) coffee press.

Kitchen

Office… Before you ask that is a wine bottle behind the computer screen, and yes its empty, it was a mother’s day gift ( in addition to the toilet seat) from Chris and I am keeping it because it has a cool label, see below.

Office

Two Angels

Closet… This might be the worst one, seeing I can’t even open the door to get inside, but yes the cowboy hat and sparkly heels are within easy access.

Closet

And just look at what I am teaching Eva.

Eva bedroom

Eva Play room

I vow to improve so this time next year, why don’t we call it Suze Orman month (May) I will see how I have improved. It’s a challenge!

Here is the ticket for the show: It got covered in spilled ink in my overstuffed purse. I will need to give that an overhaul too.

Suze Orman

 

Thanks Suze for the wakeup call. Whenever I have a challenge I think W.W.B.D.D. (What would Bette Davis do?) but now I think it might have to be revised: W.W.S.O.D. (What would Suze Orman do?) My favorite story is how she sued Merrill Lynch while she worked there!

As we would say in Bermuda “That Girl, She’s GOT SOME CRUST.”

I did pay my aunt back for the ticket, it was well worth the $40.00 investment

Xx Derelict Mom.

 

 

Come Check Me Out!

My personal essay “A Real Mother” part of the book Take This Journey With Me: Bermuda Anthology of Memoir and Creative Non Fiction is launching tonight at 5:30pm at the Bermuda Society of Arts in City Hall. Come and see me read a short excerpt along with several other authors included in the book. Pick up a copy for $10.00 and support Derelict Mom!  Our editor Rachel Manley will also be speaking.

Xx Derelict Mom

 

MEMOIR LAUNCH FLYER

A Person Who Has Some Trouble Being a Parent

I cheated on a test called a PSI earlier this year. It was my first time cheating on a test, as I was always an honest student in school and proudly flunked every math class as a result.

I had never heard of PSI before, or rather I had only heard of it as PSI the scientific exploration of psychic phenomena and yes I would probably pass a test in that, it has been a hobby of mine for the last few years. To my dismay the questions did not entail details of what happened in last week’s episode of “The Ghost Inside My Child,” or “The Haunting of that guy from CHIPS.” … and it was multiple choice, something about multiple choice fills me with anxiety… but let me explain how I came to have to take a standardized test at age 37 while thinking I was enjoying a twenty year hiatus between the horror of taking standardized tests and the anxiety of coaching my child through them. I was always one of those students that was much much smarter than her test scores (no one accuses me of modesty) but that’s not very remarkable is it? It’s far more interesting to meet someone who fails in school but scores perfectly on the math SAT. The exams are rigged, that’s my theory. Multiple Choice was invented by men to befuddle women so it came to no surprise to me that the PSI test I was subjected to was written by a man, a man named: Richard R. Abidin.

In January the Department of Child Services mailed me a pamphlet asking if I wanted a free assessment of my child to assess her two year old development progress. Of course I will go for anything that is free, so I filled it out and said: Yes please, I am unemployed so my schedule is open. At some point later in January a nice woman named Edwina (she even has a name from the 12th century) came to visit my daughter one afternoon to “assess her development.” I was worried that Eva would not accept Edwina into her lair at age two for Madame Eva takes some time to warm up to strangers especially when they are in her space. At the moment she is even jealous of the dogs, and says to me “You are not Piggy’s mommy, You are not Lum Lum’s Mommy, You are only Eva’s Mommy.” She freaks out if they come near her when she is eating or if they try and come into her room or the bathroom while she is on the throne. It’s called Sibling rivalry. If Piccolo tries to sit on my lap, she bears her teeth at him and stares him down in a declaration of war until he gives up and returns to his pillow. It made me wonder when the fangs would come out with Edwina.

Eva was suspicious and obviously concerned that Edwina might be that monstrous thing called a babysitter. I tried to distract everyone,

“Would you like a cup of tea?”

Eva stared at Edwina and the enormous blue suitcase that accompanied her. I could tell Eva was wondering what the hell was in it, and I was having the same thoughts, because when she was assessed at eight months old they only brought a few blocks and stacking toys. I wondered if they made it that big, big enough to fit a two year old if they felt her surroundings were “unfit,” and needed to smuggle her out of the neighborhood. I had spent the two hours before Edwina came scrubbing Eva’s play area, which probably had not been cleaned since it was erected. Nothing was giving me away except for the unmistakable odor of cleaning fluid. Pine- Sol fresh. I wasn’t really trying to hide anything other than cockroach droppings and I didn’t put those there on purpose. I was trying to be a good mom even if I was a few cockroach droppings shy of perfect.

Edwina’s first words after, “Earl Grey,” were, “My goodness she is small for her age.”

I winced wondering how much Eva understands of that sentence, as I am sure she will hear it over and over throughout her life until she is my age and starts growing in other directions, out and down and soon no one would be able to call her small anymore even though she never broke five feet in height.

“Don’t tell her that, she calls herself little.“ I say.

Eva says nothing but stares at Edwina’s clipboard with fascination and mistrust. Halfway through our tea cups I decide to interject.

“Shall we all go down into the play area?”

The three of us march downstairs, Eva’s head swivels around careful never to loose sight of Edwina but careful not to get too near. Edwina follows my lead and does not try too hard with Eva as not to blow her chances.

The three of us sit down in the play area, Eva just keeps staring at Edwina’s suitcase like she was waiting for the big reveal. Edwina slowly unzips it and very quietly she pulls out a toy and places it on the floor between Eva and herself. Eva’s eyes light up, and Edwina pulls several other toys out of the bag. Eva looked at me with excitement and perplexion as if to say,

“You lied mommy, Santa Claus isn’t an old fat man in the red suit at the mall in Boston with ketchup on his beard, Santa Claus is a beautiful woman named Edwina.”

Eva snuggled in next to Edwina like she had found her long lost mother, and at the same time theorizing in her tiny mind that I had kidnapped her from the maternity ward. As soon as the toys came out, Eva had one foot in the big blue suitcase and was hoping to be signed on as Edwina’s little helper or a reindeer if the position of chief elf wasn’t possible. They got along like a house on fire. I was surprised, maybe I was a little jealous. Edwina was one of those people, with an enchanting way about her. When you see them with children you know that was what they were born to do. Poor Eva she didn’t get one of those as a mother, but now she has one as her own special social worker / Santa Claus at least for the next hour.

I was hovering over them; I admit it. I was wondering if Eva would thread the needle just right, or pick up the right colored ball, and when and how and for what I would get points deducted from my placement in the institution of motherhood. Edwina noticed me hovering, she returned to her suitcase and I was sure she was reaching in for tranquilizers but instead she pulled out a folder of paperwork.

“While I am testing her I need you to fill out some paperwork.”

“Okay “ I said, figuring parents did not belong in Santa’s workshop.

Edwina handed me a pencil and pointed to the opposite end of my dining room table. I obeyed and flipped open the booklet.

“PSI.”

“Don’t worry it is multiple choice.” Edwina says from across the room.

“Okay.” I say with anxiety looking at the pencil.

“Now Eva, mommy has to do some homework and you have to play with Edwina”

“No!” Says Eva, “ I want to get naked.”

I drop my pencil and return to the play area, Eva was feeling too at home in Edwina’s presence, and because she was only two had no idea she was actually being examined and that her behavior was impacting on our standardized test score. I hoped there wasn’t a time limit.

Eva tries to take off her shirt and it gets stuck on her head and she starts to panic. I grab the shirt and whip it off. Then she bends over and starts taking her pants down, bending over so that Edwina gets a peek at her bum. I panic and pull them back up.

“No Eva, its not Naked time.” She starts to whine and scream.

“I want to be naked.” I look at Edwina trying to see if she is shocked and try and determine if I should take a stance or give in. Edwina didn’t seem to mind so I gave in, and let her take her development test in the nude.

“I am naked” Eva says with a smile.

“Play nicely with Edwina.” I say turning my attention to the test. To my surprise, naked Eva sits down crossed legged and with quiet concentration plays with Edwina like the perfect child wearing an imaginary tunic from 1805.

Meanwhile, I look down, and instantly suspicious of this PSI test I roll up the sleeve of my left hand and like a grade school cheat I scratch the website and address at the bottom of the test sheet onto my forearm to look up later. After answering the first few questions I look to see how many sheets this thing was, it was going to take me forever- in actuality about an hour, about the same time Edwina needed to test Eva without interruption from an interfering parent.

It came with directions:

“In answering the following questions, please think about the child you are most concerned about.”

And it continued.

“The questions on the following pages ask you to mark an answer which best describes your feelings. While you may not find an answer, which exactly states your feelings, please mark the answer, which comes closest to describing how you feel. YOUR FIRST REACTION TO EACH QUESTION SHOULD BE YOUR ANSWER.”

“What is my first reaction: F this test.” I start to write that down then realize I am not actually answering a question so I read on.

The first question is: When my child wants something, my child usually keeps trying to get it.

My answer “ Strongly Agree”

My child is so active that is exhausts me?

My answer “Strongly Agree.” And then I scratch in the margin, “especially after a few cocktails.”

My child appears disorganized and is easily distracted?

“Strongly agree,” “ but that might be my fault not hers.” I scroll in the margin.

My child squirms and kicks a great deal when being dressed or bathed.

“Strongly agree.”

“She prefers to be naked but will wear shoes but we argue about that: she likes her high heels and I try and make her wear her red sparkly Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz shoes every day and she hates bathing, she can’t get her hair wet unless its Wednesday.”

My child rarely does things for me that make me feel good.

“Strongly Agree. “ I have visions of when she ran around the grocery store piercing plastic packages with her uncut fingernails and knocking things off shelves then crying and saying Mommy hurt her. I gave the cashier my best Derelict Mom fake smile.

Most times I feel that my child likes me and wants to be close to me.

“Strongly disagree.“ I remember last night at 2am when she slapped me in the face and screamed for her daddy, her gigi, her hamma, her nanna, her pops, the man on the street corner, anyone but MOMMY.

When I do things for my child I get the feeling that my efforts are not appreciated very much.

“Strongly agree. Last week I made her Sheppard’s pie she threw it on the ground and then screamed when Piccolo ate it.“

My child seems to cry or fuss more often than most children.

“Strongly agree. “

I feel that my child is very moody and easily upset.

“Strongly agree. She is just like her father, it’s genetic.”

My child does a few things, which bother me a great deal.

“Strongly agree”, and I begin my list: Tantrums, she likes Daddy more than me, she is jealous of the dogs, she never wants me to play with her.

When my child came home from the hospital I had doubtful feelings about my ability to handle being a parent.

“Strongly agree. When I got home from the hospital I was hoping I would wake up from a dream. Go away bad dream! “

My child turned out to be more of a problem than I had expected.

“Strongly agree. It started with the colic.”

The probing personal questions were making me feel like Harold in the movie Harold and Maude when his mother makes him sign up for a dating agency and he has to fill out a questionnaire. See this clip on YouTube. One of the best movies ever made in Hollywood. Not only can I relate to Harold, but I bet my mother had a hat like that in the seventies.

I was at the end of the first page of the test when I looked down at the copyright symbol at the bottom of the first page and noticed in small print © PSI, Parental Stress Index.

“Parental Stress Index”

This test was testing my development not Eva’s somehow I knew this had to all be a ruse. I was being tricked into being honest again. I looked down at my test; I was most certainly flunking. I looked at the pencil Edwina gave me, — it was one of those ones WITHOUT an eraser. I took a deep meditative breath like they teach you in pregnancy yoga and tried to figure out my options.

“Edwina?”

“Yes? “She says from the playpen.

“I am about half way through, do you mind I will excuse myself to use the bathroom, but Eva seems to be fine with you.”

“Of course,” Edwina replied.

I waited a few minutes, then as quietly as I could I slipped out of the room without Eva noticing, closing the door behind me. I ran up the stairs into my office and ransacked my drawers. Among the old canisters of film, and old cell phones I found a disregarded pencil eraser- thank god for saving things from the nineteen eighties.

I ran back down the stairs flushed the toilet, counted to ten then calmly entered the room and sat down shifting my presence so that my back was hiding my erasing arm. By some miracle of 1980s textile manufacturing the eraser didn’t fall apart and I was able to fill in the “correct” answers with enough variety to not arouse suspicion.

There were even better questions on the next page:

There are problems in me marriage

I feel I have lost my identity

I resent my child

(I am really glad these aren’t essay questions. I think)

I feel trapped by my responsibilities as a parent.

I often feel that my child’s needs control my life

I feel that I am:

  1. A very good parent
  2. A better than average parent
  3. An average parent
  4. A person who has some trouble being a parent
  5. Not very good at being a parent.

And still more, these are my favorites:

Sometimes my child does things that bother me just to be mean.

“Strongly agree, I mean disagree. “

And

The number of children that I have now is too many.

“Strongly agree I mean disagree.”

Eva’s test seemed to be going even better than mine and she was really pulling out all the stops. Suddenly she said to me, “Mommy I have to tee tee.”

Edwina’s eyes popped out of her head.

“You mean she is potty trained?”

“Yes, she was potty trained for tee tee from 18months, and we conquered number twos at twenty two months.”

Edwina was astonished. She was even more astonished that Eva knew her opposites, complex concepts, could count and use prepositional phrases, plurals, and had better pencil grip than her mom. The only thing I could really take credit for was that I was pretty good at lying to my kid about the TV being broken so she would read books.

“Well on the Ghost inside My Child, they say children with exceptional abilities have a past life they can still remember.”

Edwina’s eyebrow arches in my direction. I start to back track.

“I know going to the potty isn’t exceptional to most people.”

When Eva and I returned from the bathroom, Edwina had packed up her suitcase. I think I scared her off with too much talk about Lifetime television. This is what motherhood had done to my Saturday evenings. Edwina seemed to be in a rush out the door.

As she zipped up the suitcase, Edwina said, “Eva passed with flying colours.”

I thought to myself “Mommy passed too even if she had to cheat but Eva will never know until she finds my Derelict Mom blog archive.”

We were walking up the stairs toward the front door. Edwina paused to say goodbye and she could look directly into my office from where she was standing. Out of the corner of her eye I could see Edwina spot and stare at the ransacked drawers. I follow her eye and thinking on the spot I got creative to try and cover my tracks.

“Eva has a pet rat and it escaped when we were cleaning its cage. We think it is making a nest somewhere in my desk. “FiFi” “FiFi”

I was getting better at lying and now I was thinking it was right up there next to cheating, hoarding and parenting in the Derelict Mom list of useful skills.

Edwina seemed to buy it, and we said our goodbyes, Eva and I stood on the doorstep waving goodbye like the perfect developmentally advanced, Derelict Mother and Daughter.

Eva and I spent the rest of the evening looking under the couches, and in the desk drawers for Eva’s imaginary pet rat. “Fi Fi” “Fi Fi”

I was relieved. The only thing that stood between Derelict mom and a visit from the mental health visitor was a pencil eraser. Thank god for pencil erasers. One day I will be honest with my daughter, I will tell her the truth, that mom was just somebody who had some trouble being a parent. I know there are others out there.

A few weeks later I got my results in the mail. We both passed. Tucked in the envelope though there was another pamphlet “ Time out as a discipline technique.” I guess Eva’s naked episode made Edwina think I needed a few pointers. At least Derelict Mom didn’t have a naked episode was all that came immediately to mind.

Xx Derelict Mom.

Development test001 Discipline booklet001

 

 

 

 

More Family Videos from 1985

I have had a pretty crazy week. Two weeks ago nothing. Now madness. Spent four hours this morning planning to change the world with my newest sisters. BTW ladies its National Siblings day, thanks for adopting me. Changing the world takes a lot of work therefore I only left my self the last 45 minutes of the work week to write my blog. EEK. I promise a longer blog next week, this week it’s the Reader’s Digest version.

As I have said before I have been investigating my mother’s father’s family: The Youngbloods. I have come to the conclusion that my grandfather and a couple other siblings got all the brains and I might still be being modest. It turns out my relatives might not be the only ones a few hotdogs short of a picnic. Earlier this week I decided to chase up a death certificate I had ordered for my grandfather so I called up the central records office of the State of Virginia.

“Hello, I ordered a death certificate and it has not arrived yet.”

“What kind of record were you looking for?”

“A death certificate.”

“What is your name?”

“Lucinda Spurling, I ordered it about four weeks ago.”

I could hear her typing my name into the system.

“I don’t see anything coming up, is the death certificate for you, in your given name?”

“No I am looking for a death certificate. I am not calling from the afterlife. The certificate is for my grandfather, he died in 2005. I am still here.”

“Oh, of course. What was his name?”

I myself suffer from brain fog on occasion. I am not sure what to call the above, brain fog, confusion, or just mediocrity or being bored with the job of telephone attendant. I know I would be bored. It was funny for a moment.

So today I decided to share a few more “funny for a moment” clips from my 1985 family video from the deep south. I was thinking about writing a description for each of these videos but I don’t think there are any words for them you just have to watch. I find it endlessly entertaining. I will probably be playing these clips in 2025. I do find it funny that a paper mache skull won the science fair. Maybe that’s where my interest in the macabe comes from. Enjoy, each of them are less than a minute long. Until next week.

Xx Derelict Mom

http://youtu.be/vLz1ixjjhkU

http://youtu.be/8ClfKeUNbDY

http://youtu.be/9HraowOuIxw

http://youtu.be/LFaVeCNJFzY

 

 

The Problem with Pronouns

Poop on moms rug

I have a confession to make. I failed my 10th grade grammar test required to pass into the next grade. I was one of only three people in my entire year to fail. Luckily they let me retake it and I managed to – on the second try, pass, enter the 11th grade eventually graduate and get into college. Phew. Thank goodness for retakes, spell check and friends who are good at proofreading because I really could use a brush up. I have reserved in the most generous core of my being a little bit of admiration for the grammar philes- you know who you are– who consistently point out our errors. It is all of you I have to thank for the knowledge I have a problem with rogue commas, dialogue placement, indentation, and far worse grammatical crimes like dangling participles, a phrase which sounds more like the discovery of a murder weapon than the possible misinterpretation of a sentence.

These women, I have yet to meet a man who is a member of the grammar police, are half school teacher, half passive aggressive serial killer. You might have the misfortune of sending a missive their way and they fire it back to you with highlights, word layers and so much so it looks like a child scribbled with crayons on your typing. Part of me thinks these people draw your attention to your mistakes partly to be helpful and partly in a haughty I am better than you at something way. They sometimes wait for a reaction like they would be pleased that they mortally offended you. It does feel a bit like you went to the doctor’s office and they took a pincher clamp and pinched you in all the wrong places to prove to you you have a weight problem.

I have both, a weight problem and a grammar problem and I already know. My larger difficulty is that I never liked rules, and I can’t count calories. The irony does not escape me, that although I failed my tenth grade grammar test I have a career where I write blogs, scripts, teleplays, grants, and plenty of letters. I give plenty of people fodder for the pleasure of correcting me. I should learn from all this unsolicited “help” but do I, no because I never liked rules like the grammar police. Rules are far more boring than ideas. I say all of this to bring up my big: however moment because there is one grammar issue that bothers me and is the source of much confusion in my family: pronouns. Women seem to be worse than men at this annoying habit of not being specific and my own mother is one of the worst. For example….

She will often ask me something like:

“Will you pick that up and bring it to me.”

“What?” I ask.

“That” she responds with exasperation pointing into the air.

“What?” I ask again as I pick up a folder, a magazine, a pen.

“No, that!” she points again in frustration.

“That, what?” I again plead with her for specification.

Finally she obliges.

“That catalogue.”

“Oh” I say and hand her the catalogue.

“Not that one.” She says

“Which one?”

“That one! “ She insists.

“Ahhhhh.” I respond and push the stack of catalogues in her direction.

Shaking her head mom looks at me like I am stupid and should be able to read her mind.

My mother also suffers from old age. Her bad hearing and eyesight do not help matters when pronouns are involved. I am happy to let the readers know that my mother had a successful operation on a cataract a few weeks ago, but before that time she had been “legally blind” since she was about 10.

One day about a week before she left for her eye operation I joined her on a dog walk in Ferry Reach Public Park with her Doberman, Babe. My mother has been walking her dogs at Ferry Reach for decades in fact I think she thinks it is an extension of her own backyard. It is usually the same people out exercising at the same time of each day, interspersed with Works and Engineering workers, campers, and Regiment soldiers on drills at different times of the year. Then there are Sundays when the park is descended on by families, dogs, and the “Hoi Polloi.” As you can imagine my mother and her Doberman don’t associate with the Ferry Reach “Hoi polloi” and therefore they don’t go walking on Sundays.

Out of the regular weekday walkers I only occasionally show up with my mom and Babe. It is usually a weak moment. My mother has asked if I wanted to go on an exercise walk and I have agreed, knowing what could be a 45 minute walk will turn into a two hour, walk, swim, sunbathe, trip into St. George’s and chat at the post office during which time my mother will address all of what she is concerned are my major challenges in life, like the need to have a son, clean out my fridge, and entertain the neighbors. Most of which have barely crossed my mind.

One such day a couple weeks ago my mother and I and Babe are heading around the last stretch home enroute to the car when my mother (cataract and all) catches sight of a movement in the distance.

“Did you see that up there?” she asks.

“I am not sure, “ I squint with my 20/20 vision.

“I am sure I saw something.”

“Mom other people are allowed inside, it’s a public park.”

“Other people aren’t usually out here at this time.”

“Well maybe today is an exception, the schools are on break you know.”

My mother shakes her head, unconvinced like a hawk shaking its feathers to get a better view. Suddenly she pulls on Babe’s lead who then snaps to attention. Simultaneously she puts her right hand out in front of me to stop me in my tracks, like she used to when she braked for a pedestrian in the old bright red Honda we had growing up before the era of seat belt laws and booster seats.

“Oh my god that person up there has a dog!”

“It’s a free country mom. Other dogs are allowed in Babe’s park.”

“Yes but the dog is off the lead. It’s against the law”

I squint down the mile expanse and I see something shifting about.

“You might be right, but I can’t tell if it’s on a lead.”

“I can’t see that well.” Mom says.

“You saw it before me.” I say.

“What size dog is it?” she asks.

“Mom I think it might be medium sized.” I say squinting at the creature in the distance being walked by it’s family.

“It’s wearing a sweater, so I can’t tell the breed.” I add.

“I can only really see movement from a distance,” my mother says, “everything else is blurry even close up.”

“I bet its an Alsatian, they are really vicious,” She adds. “I saw one out here a few months ago.”

When we approached the family, a little voice said.

“May I pat your dog?”

“Yes,” I say as my mother at the same time says, “No.”

I whisper to my mom, “It’s not a dog.” But she doesn’t hear me.

My mother looks down at the little girl coming toward Babe. Making out the pink sweater she says, “ You know SHE should really be on a leash.”

The mother looks shocked and responds,

“Well SHE is four years old.”

“At four THEY still jump around, trust me, I have one myself they need a leash.”

The other mother just smiles at me awkwardly and they ask again,

“Can we pat your dog?”

Hopeful that my mother could show some willing, I answered for her with a resounding.

“Yes” at the same time she said even louder, “No!”

I look at her as if to say she was being ridiculous and she felt the need to explain,

“My Babe, SHE bites, does yours too?”

The woman keeps trying to pull her daughter away from Babe.

I smile politely and lead my legally blind mother away at which time she says within earshot.

“People need to control their wild animals.”

children_on_a_leash_15

“Mom it was not a wild animal it was a child on half term break!”

“SHE still needs a leash” my mother said.

It was this moment at Ferry Reach Park that made me realize that my mother’s surgery was not without urgency. This was brought home a few days later when she was taking care of Eva’s cousin Sadie, my sister’s daughter who is also two years old.

My sister’s older son Trystan is five and is being schooled in the art of the prank by none other than his own mother. When my sister arrived at my parent’s house with Trystan to pick up Sadie, Trystan slipped off unnoticed. Thirty minutes later, my mother, Sister, Sadie and Trystan walk into the living room. There on my mother’s prized Moroccan rug was a huge poop.

My mother squinted. She hovered. She sniffed. She bent over, then recoiled in shock.

“My carpet! “

“Quick get the paper towel..” my sister ran off to oblige, when she returned, my mother took the paper towel and hovered over the mess.

Mom looked at my sister and Sadie and said,

“SHE has really gone crazy this time.”

Sadie started to cry. My sister looked at mom in horror.

“Sadie is potty trained.” She insisted.

“No SHE is insane.” My mother insisted.

“Who?” my sister said. “Not Sadie.”

Sadie cried harder.

“ No, BABE! “ My mother yelled as she bent over and picked up a hard fake plastic dog poo.

Trystan giggled the rest of the afternoon, his prank had been more successful than he anticipated… Trystan and my sister after telling me of the scene above, convinced me to replicate the same prank on Chris. What do you know, it worked, probably because there is something easily believable about dog poo on a carpet in the Spurling compound. Of course I videoed it.

The following week I realized I myself was creating misunderstandings for Eva with pronouns. Since she was only a few months old Eva has had a healthy marked obsession with animals. She rides horses without fear, gives fierce snappy dachshunds bear hugs, talks to the flies and feeds the fish; it is part of who she is. Most days we venture to the toad pond to count the toads, and she is occasionally brave enough to touch one; we watch the bird nests and look out for big fish and sea turtles and I cannot wait until she is old enough to take her whale watching.

With her recent emotional maturity evidenced by tantrums and fear of the nighttime, she has started to talk to me about her feelings. On our regular walks she points out every lizard she sees, and says, “I love HIM.” And “I love HIM.” And “I love HIM.” Then she sees the kitty cat, Inky, and says, “ I love HIM.”

I was beginning to realize the errors of my ways, as I must have referred to every living thing over the last two years as a “him.” OPPS. BIG OPPS.

“Inky is a girl kitty cat, Eva.” I say.

She looks at me confused.

“No titty tat is a boy.”

We disagree for quite sometime about this fact until I give up, and go in search of a toad and a snail, which I then refer to as HER. “

“I love HIM.” She says back.

“NO, her “ I say back and she looks at me confused. I realize I am digging myself quite a hole with a toddler.

“Yes you do love the snail but the snail is a girl.”

“No, a boy.”

“Okay whatever.”

Later that night I took her out of her bath and she asked to be held like a baby, so I wrapped her up in the towel and started singing, “Hush little baby,” to which she laughed hysterically and then without warning she announced,

“When I grow up I am going to be a boy. “

“But you are a girl.” I said.

“ No! When I grow up I am going to be a boy and play football.”

“Oh!” I said, “But girls play football too.”

“No Boys! “

These ideas about gender had obviously been subconsciously if not outrightly implied and she had been ruminating about it all day, or perhaps all year. I knew I should have been worried a few months ago when she picked up a baby coconut and pretended it was a penis, and tried to pee standing up.

There are some things women just shouldn’t do but football is not one of them. I will teach her, she will learn. I might have to try and play football just to prove a point. That would be funny. I should video that too. Watch this space.

P.S. My mom posed for the reenactment of the scene below. Who says she doesn’t love my blog!

Xx Derelict Mom.

Mom with poop

Lucinda’s a writer

 

I am Here

I had three projects turned down last week. Three! That is a bad week even for me. Truth is the last three months have been the worst in my career. I had found a wonderful person to work with and everything was on the up and up and then I had to let her go and make myself redundant with no pay or notice when a client sidelined a project I had put months of unpaid work into and helped shape and develop, a project we had started in 2011 before Eva was even born.  Stupid I know.

Shit happens so why am I so irritated by this latest string of rejections. I think I may have finally come to the last straw: the last of a series of annoyances or disappointments that leads one to a final loss of patience, temper, trust or hope.  Definitely hope, trust, yes that too.

Someone said to me yesterday,  “By now you should be used to rejection in your business.” Do we ever get used to rejection or do we finally say fuck this and give up and try something new.

I like to think of my current career, (I can’t call it a job because its not a job at the moment) as a Bad Bad Boyfriend. That boyfriend who never calls you back or when he does treats you like crap and yet there is just something about him that keeps you coming back for more despite your ego which is telling you to run for the lifeboats. I dated a few bad boys a long long time ago, got wise to that and found an amazing husband and father to spend my life with. Why can’t I do that in my career? Perhaps it is time to listen to my ego.

The problem is my ego is confused, as soon as I decide I have had enough, people look at me like I am dumping Jude Law, but Jude Law is a bad bad boyfriend too he just looks pretty to everyone else. But then all of a sudden a silver lining, something good happened – an antidote, a great group of people gave me a great job. It is part time so not the answer to all my problems, but it is a start. It is enough to pull me back from the edge when I have already decided to jump. So I am going to make another film, this time it will probably be my last one, it’s kind of nice knowing that going in. I am sure I will get plenty of questions.

“Why are you giving up?” but the fact is I didn’t give up. I had a vision and at some point, and certainly at three points last week, the world more specifically Bermuda decided they didn’t share that vision and so it is time soon to get that divorce from that bad boyfriend I keep complaining to my friends about.

They don’t say anything really to me when I complain they just look at me with fake pity and a haughty “I told you so” look. Even though they say nothing, I can hear them thinking, “Why did SHE think SHE could be a filmmaker as a career.” Then they offer up a “Why don’t you meet with a recruiter,” as if I haven’t thought about that, or they think but don’t say, “You can always be a waitress.” I was a lousy waitress; I already tried it. It doesn’t solve my problem, which is that my ideas are too ambitious, unrealized and perhaps unrealistic in Bermuda. I could keep complaining to my friends about this problem but they would just look at me as if I was complaining about my weight while eating an entire pizza.

But you know what I am going to do, I am going to do something even worse, I am going to proclaim myself a writer. Forget movies. Forget spending all day cutting the tags out of my demanding toddler’s wardrobe.

My husband played a song for me, which I had never heard before the other night. I have played it every day since. It’s my new theme song a la Ally Mc Beal.

Pearl’s a Singer by Elkie Brooks. I have been singing along to it so much, I started to change the words. I now call it Lucinda’s a Writer.

Lucinda’s a writer

She stands up when she plays the keyboard

In the night time.

Lucinda’s a writer

She writes blogs for the lost and lonely

Her job is entertaining folks

rewriting songs and telling jokes

In the night time

Lucinda’s a writer

And they say that she once was a winner

in a contest

Lucinda’s a writer

And they say that she once made a movie

They played it for a week or so

On the local TV station

It never made it

She wanted to be Betty Davis

But now she sits there watching Shameless

Dreaming of the things she never got to do

All those dreams that never came true

Lucinda’s a writer

She stands up when she plays the keyboard

In the night time

Lucinda’s a writer

She writes blogs for the lost and the lonely

Her job is entertaining folks

Rewriting songs and telling jokes

In the night time

 

Lucinda’s a writer

She stands up when she plays the keyboard

In the night time

Lucinda’s a writer

She writes blogs for the lost and the lonely

Her job’s entertaining folks

Rewriting songs and telling jokes

In the night time…

 

This song was playing on YouTube in the background while I put my life up for sale on emoo and eBay. My husband pulled me away before I put him and Eva up for a Buy It Now deal and took me outside for some fresh air and a fresh perspective.

Truth be told, I can write movies based anywhere, if I embrace my new career as a writer I can finally eventually divorce myself from Bermuda which will otherwise suck the artistic life out of me if I let it… Bad Boyfriend!

So I am retiring soon but my blog will continue and I will soon say I hail from Nowhere, Oklahoma. Hey it’s artistic license. I am sure all my true fans will understand, that like Bette Davis in All About Eve I am “Maudlin and full of self pity” but I am also “Magnificent.” Even if its only me that thinks so.

Bette Davis scene from All About Eve: ( I tried to put it on youtube but they blocked me)

Bette Davis: “I am being rude now aren’t I, or should I say Ain’t I”

Addison DeWitt: “You are maudlin and full of self pity, You are magnificent.”

Husband: “How about calling it a night”

Bette Davis: “And you pose as a playwright. A situation pregnant with possibilities and all you can think of is everybody go to sleep.”

Husband: “It’s a good thought.”

Bette Davis: “It won’t PLAY.”

– Bette Davis at her best.

BD- AllaboutEve

I was writing this the other day, after dressing Eva up as Tinkerbelle at her request. By the end of the day this is where her wings and wand ended up. I think Eva is feeling my vibe.  She is now a retired fairy.

Tinkerbelle wings

Xx Derelict Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen of the Gypsies

 

I picked up my parents from the airport yesterday; they had been gone about a week for my mother’s eye surgery in Boston. When I rolled up in their Rav 4 station wagon, our modern version of a Romani gypsy caravan I looked at the sidewalk where an extended family of body bags were lined up next to my parents. I sighed, their bag porter had already high tailed it with his tip. We heaved the body bags into the car one by one, and they just about fit. We shut the doors and thanked god for the minor miracle of fitting everything in, which includes my mother and her many accoutrements.  Mom doesn’t travel lightly, neither do I. When we rented an apartment in Montana on a family holiday it looked like my mother had moved in, she brought three pairs of cowboy boots, several stand up mirrors, a jewelry box etc etc. She had to travel back east by land or she would have racked up a world record in excess baggage. For this trip though she was travelling light by her standards, they only came back with a bag for every day of the week they were away, I am surprised the suitcases weren’t labeled: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday like the kids underwear.  My mom was probably out shopping as soon as they wheeled her out of the hospital door, eye patch and all. Shopping is easier when you can’t read the price tags! Derelict GiGi is trying to get into Ripley’s Believe it or not for the most surgeries in one lifetime, in reality she has had more surgeries than Michael Jackson but no where near as much properfol instead she has a Lindo’s green eco bag stuffed full of East End prescribed happy pills.

I have to admit I am exactly the same as my mother, just with a far smaller budget. And when she unzipped one of the body bags out came a box of almond meal, a huge gallon bag of coconut flour, and custom baby probiotics all ordered by me to their Boston apartment and dutifully transported back to Bermuda by the Queen of the Gypsies, my mother. I am grateful; I am her daughter in training. Just looking in my purse I can find twenty ball point pens, gaffer tape, three notebooks, files, a few novels, two cameras, and floss and a few plugs… you know just in case.

My mother’s lecturing me about not ordering so much stuff to the Boston apartment is steeped in irony. My mother might not order things off of amazon, but she buys enough from Lord and Taylor and Talbots to surpass all of my internet shopping exploits. My father might be the all time worst for online shopping sprees; he is always ordering strange antiques and on occasion making me smuggle in an iron dagger from 1500 B.C. in my luggage. When we got pulled by TSA, try to explain that one..”Yes that iron dagger tangled in my thong underwear is my Dad’s antique letter opener.” Hmmmm. I started wondering if travelling around with lots of stuff was genetic.

My parents have even started bringing in tons of specialty foods in their suitcase, which is reminiscent of my mother’s parents who every Christmas would arrive with several suitcases each, and if you sat next to one on the ride home from the airport chances are you would get freezer burn. When we arrived at the house, they would be opened and enormous steaks as big as my arm would be heaved from the suitcase into the deep freeze, along with sausages, orange rolls, and frozen pounds of cookies of several varieties. I’d wonder where their clothes were as that’s the area they would economize on space, and would have about three interchangeable pieces for as many weeks.

 

My mother was becoming more and more like her mother, as I became more and more like my mother.  That said perhaps on some occasions she was far more like her father. Many early morning service callers have mistaken those gruff adenoidal cadences for the man of the house.

“Hello The Spurling Residence.”

“Hello Sir, it’s Bermuda Telephone Company calling.”

“This is not Sir, its Mrs. Spurling!”

“Mr. Spurling if you pass me to the lady of the house I can make an appointment.”

“This is the lady of the house.”

“Mister Spurling I must have caught you on a bad day it sounds like you have a very heavy cold. ”

My mother replies in her best Queen’s English, “It’s Mrs. Jane Spurling speaking at this very moment.”

“I am so sorry Mrs. Spurling it must be a bad line.”

…..

Before doing all this genealogical research I didn’t realize there was such thing as a “Youngblood voice.” It’s deep, gravelly and with a smooth timbre much like my mother’s Aunt Bernice in this video. I wonder if people thought Bernice was a man when she answered the phone. There are some genetic consistencies that just can’t be denied, including my mother’s most definite gypsy like tendencies!

Over to Aunt Bernice:

Like Aunt Bernice, and my mother both my sister and I also register on the lower scale. I’ll never forget one of the most mortifying moments in primary school music class when the music teacher classified us by vocal register. Most of the girls were soprano or mezzo soprano, a few boys were too, then most of the boys were in the middle as tenors, and I am sure you have guessed by now, there was one Barritone Alto, me. I was the smallest girl in the class with the deepest voice. It must have been then I wished to become a boy, little did I know I would only have to wait a few decades to be mistaken for one!

There are many things that are genetic: looks, personality, voice, and well: hair.

When I saw this video below, my first thought was, this is exactly what I would look like if I had a mullet. Scary thought. Mullets I think might be genetic too.  Eva was born with one, and she still has it, see picture below. I tell people it is her genetic adaptation to childhood, which saves mommy from having to cut it or tie it back, but now I am thinking after seeing the video below that it might be a rogue Youngblood gene.  I do hope that Eva has better grammar than our dear relative “which is” Cousin Brenda with the crazy hair. I also still wondering how you can collect careers like cousin Brenda “which is” a nurse, electrologist, interior decorator and chiropractic assistant and still have time to sew, swim and play tennis. You know us Youngbloods, we are prone to exaggeration…and collecting careers, like the gypsies.

Does anyone know what an “electrologist” is? I am guessing it has something to do with sticking a fork into an electrical socket… something this derelict mom must admit my Eva has done under my watch. That’s what happened to the Youngblood hair!

Over to Cousin Brenda:

And here is a picture of Eva “which is” two and has a mullet au natural. Eva who with her Diva nature, and her rogue Youngblood gene is surely destined to take over as Queen of the Gypsies one day from GiGi. She is practicing already, today she went to daycare with two bunnies a Mickey and a Mini Mouse, and she came back with all of those plus one blue dolphin.

Eva to NH

 

Eva and Sadie 2014 072

I remember my grandmother on my mother’s side of course whispering in my ear once at an amusement park when I was about eight, “You see those people over there, they are GYPSIES.” Well Grandma Youngblood, who we called Gawgie, I think we are too! When Eva grows up to tell fortunes, as well as swim, sew, play tennis and be an electrologist, then well I will be absolutely sure.

 

Where do I come from?

Image

I always felt a little out of place in my family and now most of the time I look out of place too. Sure my dad wears blue jeans but my mother and sister look like they spend most of their time shopping at Saks. In comparison when I walk into a room my mother just shakes her head. I never think twice about what to wear it’s always what is at the top of the drawer but sometimes I make mistakes.  I never seem to notice but I am constantly wearing my clothes inside out, tags and seams out for all the world to see, maybe it’s a new trend. The other thing I have been doing recently is putting on my exercise pants backwards.  I don’t notice, they are spandex anyway, but my mother’s pointer finger makes an appearance at some point during the day,

“You know those slits, go in the back.”

“Oh”

“Go in the bathroom and put your pants back on the right way.”

“No.”

Backwards, forwards, does it really matter? It matters to my mother. Maybe I am adopted.

This morning feeling inspired I put on a “brand new” top. It’s designer. When I went into wake up Eva she said,

“Why are you wearing that?”

“It is Mommy’s new shirt.”

“What happened to the other one?”

“It’s dirty.”

Does she think I only have one shirt? Maybe. I think my mother would like my new top, until she finds out I got it second hand from my dog walker. Someone died and their clothes made a detour by my house, but its designer!

When I went to college we used to shop at Thrift City in New Orleans, I used to get so excited when I found something interesting in the pockets of my “new” clothes even though that meant they probably hadn’t been washed. I used to make up stories about the people who had worn them before, the people who had probably died before having their wardrobe cleared out by a relative. My mother would love to do that to my wardrobe but I am still alive.

My sister and mother give me hand-me-downs now too, as well as my dog walker. I must really look like I need help.  My recent hand me down from my mother was a Longchamp bag, hey its designer! She got fed up with my old purse, which was so grungy it looked like it had barely survived the first two years of a toddler’s life, kind of like the toddler’s mother.

Lets just say I always felt like a bit of a black sheep who shops at thrift stores, who watches movie marathons while my siblings are out running real marathons. I would not be caught dead trying to run 26 miles unless it was on horseback.

Since I was little, I felt intuitively that it was extremely important for me to know how to ride a horse.  In high school I was on the riding team, which was a bit of a joke because technically I was useless, but they kept me on the team because I could get over any jump without falling off.  They gave me all the donation horses to break in because I was the only one who could stay on. I remember my favorite horse, Cinnamon. Don’t be deceived by the name, she used to tear ass around the ring kicking any horse that came near her and when I asked her to canter she would try to buck me off. It was in this struggle that we gained a mutual respect for one another. She was my first bucking bronco and I loved it; it was in my blood.

When I see the word Rodeo I think of Cinnamon and the real rodeos I watched in Montana.

Image

But when my mother and sister see the word: Rodeo they see this in their mind:

Image

My point is that I have always been a little bit country despite my upbringing. In college my favorite beer was Schlitz and I never tried more than one Cosmopolitan.

My daughter Eva seems to be cut from the same cloth, or saddle we might say in this situation as since she saw her first horse she has been in love, and she even holds the record for the youngest donkey rider at Docker Park Farm in Lancashire, U.K.  Here she is on a horse at age 18 months.  Her new nickname is Eva “giddiup” Worsick.

Image

I should not have been surprised then when looking through my grandparents belongings I found a video message from my grandfather’s extended family in the southern U.S. and out west, the same VHS tape from 1985 I talked about in a previous post.  I never remembered seeing this video when it was made, but then again maybe he purposely didn’t share it with us. I always wondered where my country, came from, and here it was on VHS: my answer:

I gave my life to Jesus and thats how I met my husband?

Country Living

I like to Crochet and Dance!

(I will be posting more entertaining clips from this video in future posts.)

After the VHS popped out of the machine I was in total acceptance of my country roots, but I wondered if my mother would accept it, after all she was one generation closer to that side of the family. I was pondering this as she sauntered in from the spa in fresh makeup with her new line of fashion purchases.  I wasn’t too sure she came from that side of the family, until I opened the fridge door and found a bucket of KFC with a tell tale shade of Guerlain Voilette de Madame smudged on a chicken wing. We must be birds of a feather after all.

Image

********

NB: My mother finally read my blog last weekend. She says she did not use the word “hell” when she said “Why the hell do you want to be part of the DAR?” so this is hereby a retraction of the word “hell.”

My father who was a witness said she said “hell” with her tone of voice. I wonder what her tone of voice will have to say about today’s blog installment.

I have asked her to become a guest blogger, “Derelict Grandmama.”

Xxx Derelict Mom.

“Mommy, I am dying.”

The other night I overheard my mother putting Sadie to bed. Sadie is Eva’s cousin at a robust, four and a half months older than Eva. GiGi tucked her in and as she was dosing off dreaming about Mickey Mouse and Disney Princesses my mother recited the Lord’s Prayer.

I had totally forgotten or blocked it out I am not sure which – but my mother recited the Lord’s Prayer to my siblings and I every night of our childhood and we would be instructed to say it along with her when we were old enough, how could I forget. The words came creeping back into my mind like a favorite poem:

Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be they name.

When kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses

for we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil, forever and ever

Amen.

At the end my mother would say God Bless, and then list all the family members who were in heaven.

Every night would be a chorus of “Go to bed! “ “Say your prayers!” we would put our hands together in pretend prayer until we were reprimanded to take it seriously. My sister would always get the trespasses line wrong and we would rarely finish it without help. So all these years later, did it rub off?  Not really in the way it was intended.

Far from being a good Christian, I rarely go to church and I got married in my aunt’s garden because our vicar refused to let my two miniature dachshunds, Piccolo and Piglet walk down the aisle as ring bearers. I am what my mother calls a “heathen.”  It was this moment, a flashback to my childhood recitations of the Lord’s Prayer to consider the possibility of this being true.

It is always shocking when you turn out to be exactly like your mother even if you had intentions of being completely different. Eva is barely two but every night I make her turn off her Tinker Bell lamp by pressing the center of the flower at its base, and then as the fairy swirls around and the lights go out, I refuse to put her in her crib until she says, “ Good night Fairy, I believe in Fairies.” Most of the time she does what she is told, and curls up without resistance but some nights she won’t say it just to annoy me.  Sound familiar? Without realizing it until now, I have been indoctrinating my daughter in the supernatural. I am a heathen; I am a derelict mother. Worse I am just like my own mother. I can’t seem to read her a bedtime story and call it a day.

Age two is when children begin to develop their imagination and I forgive myself thinking that letting her believe in fairies is helping expand her mind. Eva’s make believe usually involves a tea party or a sleep over for her friends: Bunzy, Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Peppa Pig.   But the other day she was having just such a sleep over under her blanket tent. I came in and sat down next to her and she laid down ontop of the blanket and looked up at me and said, “ I am sleeping.”

I replied, “No you are not.”

To which she replied, “No, I am not sleeping,”

I agreed, then she said, “I am dying.”  For a moment I felt like Tinker Bell fell out of the sky at my feet and expired.

“You aren’t dying.”  Was my witty, well thought out reply.  I could see her scanning my face for recognition. I was taken aback but tried to hide it with a fake smile. It worked.

“I am not dying.” she said.

“Yes.” I agreed.

I really wasn’t prepared for something so difficult to happen, she wasn’t supposed to throw hard questions my way until she was at least eight and maybe not until she was sixteen. I was supposed to have years to dream up interesting, intelligent answers to, “What happens when you die?” I was worried too that next, pretending to pee like a boy was going to turn into the where do I come from talk at age three.

I asked Auntie Zoe the next day when she picked her up for school if anything happened at school that would make her say something like that. Zoe said they were talking about watering the tomato plants that were dying. That made me feel better, but I couldn’t help but think she had picked it up from an older kid, after all the playground is where you learn most of life’s lessons starting at two.

I am still not sure what I will tell her about dying. I am starting to think I should start talking about heaven first, perhaps I should read her the Lord’s Prayer, or maybe Gigi will have a chance to indoctrinate another generation if she ever agrees to babysit. By saying No she is passive aggressively creating more fairy-believing heathens.

I myself do believe in an after life but how do you explain that to a kid. I also believe in Tinker Bell in the parallel world of my imagination where I am still a two year old waiting for a life full of adventures. Maybe Eva is a bit cynical like her grandmother after all by living we are growing older, which is dying. Or maybe Eva just wants to understand but, in that case I have some bad news because adults are still arguing about life after death and the other mysteries of our world.

Interestingly around the same time this happened, I came across this article trending on the internet, evidently most kids believe in immortality whether its believing in heaven, fairies, ghosts or God.

http://digitaljournal.com/news/religion/op-ed-kids-believe-in-immortality-regardless-of-culture/article/367857

Not planning on giving up on Tinker Bell anytime soon.

Xx Derelict Mom

TinkerBell

I Lost Custody of My Baby

Pig and Reza-1

Last week I strapped my first born into the car, packed up his toys, his bed, blankets, his clothes and booties and even his hot dog Halloween costume, packed up a months worth of food and dropped him off on a leash and left him on his new mother’s doorstep in floods of tears. It was something I swore would never happen to him or me but he had been a problem child since birth and well, I am a derelict mother, one who would abandon their child in a basket on a nice lady’s doorstep. It had come to that. Piglet moved to St. David’s.

When I got home I put on a huge pair of sunglasses to hide my tears, and Eva put on her Elton John star shaped glittery sunglasses and we left to go to a friend’s birthday party. When we arrived Eva had had an accident in the car and so the two of us arrived crying, wearing sunglasses in the middle of winter and covered in pee. We were just what our friends wanted at their kids’ fifth birthday, a crazy mother spontaneously bursting into tears, who gave away one kid, and can’t cope with the human one. A mother who claims Eva is potty trained while she runs around the friend’s brand new house finding places to mark her spot and then spent the rest of the party in only her party dress swinging on a tree swing with a full audience of five year old boys.  When I got home our little cousin brought me down a Valentines card covered in glitter and addressed to: Luci, Chris, Eva, Piglet and Piccolo. I burst into tears leaving my uncle, an innocent bystander, to explain to our little cousin how I had to move Piglet to St. David’s. I immediately put extra pairs of hello kitty underwear in my wallet just in case there is a next time, as they would conveniently double as a handkerchief.

My new normal was hard to get used to, especially every time I looked at my backpack emblazoned with “I have multiple dachshund syndrome” but then I remembered I could count Eva, as she was following Piccolo around on all fours mousing. But I was still having difficulty letting go of my dream life as a happily married family woman with 2.5 dogs, Piccolo, Piglet and Eva.  I had worried that it would come to this after Eva arrived, but after the first few months I thought we had survived the worst. The boys, Piccolo and Piglet were not jealous of Eva but they hated each other. When Eva was born, Chris dropped the baby hats they give you in the hospital around the house and when we got home from the hospital with Eva all the hats had been collected and put together in their bed where the boys were guarding them. It was a good omen; we would all be one happy family. WRONG.

Piccolo and Piglet had always had fights, and I had always been able to separate them. I almost lost a few fingers but that’s motherhood I expected to loose an organ or an appendage at some stage. When it got worse we summoned the dog trainer, they were walked in a pack three times a week and in the worst case scenario they went off to boarding school for a few days to blow of steam. All of this seemed to diffuse the madness, which is sibling rivalry. When we added the half dog/ half human child Eva to the brood, the fights grew worse for awhile but got better again as we all got accustomed to our new life. I was worried that when Eva learned to walk that her relationship with the dogs would change and things would go wrong, but that milestone came and went and by one and a half I was sure we were in the clear. But when Eva developed an affinity for ham, and bacon it signaled the beginning of the end.

In the space of six tortuous months our house became a ridiculous circus like obstacle course of gates and barriers and bizarre rituals which had to be adhered to exactly and in sequential order or else hell would break loose and the dogs would tear each other limb from limb. Eva would cry “Boy’s fight, Boy’s fight.” One of us would be taking a dog to the vet or boarding school, the other trying to explain to Eva why one dog brother tried to kill the other dog brother.  I would have happily carried on with this madness, after all I had been doing it to a lesser extent for ten years rather than face what I had to do last week.  But it all came to a head one Saturday evening in December, when the two dogs followed me into Eva’s room while daddy was bathing Eva. I saw them facing off and knew it was going to be a bad fight. After it erupted Daddy had to take Eva out of the bath and lock her in the bathroom, dripping wet in a towel, the equivalent of locking her in a closet, which I had done before to protect her from the mayhem.

It took us several minutes to get them apart and at the end of it there was blood spattered all over us and up and down the staircase. If anyone had come over we would have had a hard time explaining why there was so much blood over the stairs and one child locked up, and another missing because I had taken the injured dog over to my parent’s house to recuperate. When I returned Chris said essentially “It’s me or the dog.” This had to end. After ten and a half years I had to find a new home for Piglet. In the eight weeks between the fight and Piglet’s relocation, his brother Piccolo stayed with my parents, where he howled and marked his spot and generally drove them crazy. Unsurprisingly they did not volunteer to adopt Piccolo or Piglet. We came to the decision to rehome Piglet and keep Piccolo because Piglet was the aggressor. Our dog walker who is sweet on Piglet agreed to adopt him after her oldest dog passed away and so Piglet’s fate was set. In the meantime I had been interviewing potential adopters, handing out flyers, calling people for advice and losing my body weight in tears all with consternation and back handed encouragement from family members.

Eva has been taking Piglet’s relocation much better than mommy. Now instead of saying “The Boys had a fight,” Eva says, “ Piglet went to live with Reza.” And when I ask her, “ Do you love Piccolo?” She says “No, I love Piglet.” And I say, “I love Piglet too,” and then I tell her, “we did our best for him,” and I try to believe it myself.

Eva is developing fears now and she plays a game where all the tiles on our floor are where the “Sharps” live and she runs away from the “sharps” and climbs up on my feet for higher ground.  At night when I read stories to her in bed, she looks at her animal book and gets scared of the lion and the leopard pictures and snuggles into my chest and I tell her “Don’t worry I will protect you and keep you safe. “   I then feel horrible and think to myself, I hope I am not lying to her like I lied to Piglet who thought I would be his mommy forever.

When I shed a tear, my own mother says, “ Good God Luci, grow up, you should have followed my advice and put the dog down, good riddance that’s what I say.” I just think to myself, I wonder if they established the social services department in the 1970s because my mother moved into town.  I should be thankful I made it out of 1984.

My recent underemployment has allowed me to look into my genealogy in order to complete a picture book and family tree for Eva.  It turns out I come from a long line of derelict mothers, in fact, one actually sold a child into slavery.

I know you are dying to know what side of my family that derelict mother was on…. Drum role….. yes indeed, that derelict mother is found on my own mother’s side, the same mother that suggested I kill Piglet. I am hoping Eva improves our genetic line and can live out her entire life without having to admit that she gave away a child, or got forbid sold or killed one, because now I have to admit I left a very sweet only sometimes vicious miniature dachshund named Piglet on a very nice lady’s doorstep in St. David’s.

Pig and Reza-2