When I was four, I told my preschool teacher, “At my house, we just laugh and laugh!”
It was true then, and it’s true now. And I mostly have my momma to thank for that. With two parents who were in the mental health field, a college theatre background, and a degree in education, my mother is bursting with hilarious stories. But her best ones usually come from us WONDERFUL (and modest) children :) Some of her favorites, which I’ve heard over and over:
Once, my sister’s class took a field trip to the fire department, where a firefighter gave a lecture on safety. He happened to include a no-drinking-and-driving tidbit, which is a little premature for five-year-olds if you ask me. My sister, a know-it-all even then, raised her hand.
“Nuh-uh!" she said. "My mom drinks and drives all the time!”
Maybe if the fireman had explained the difference between coffee on a morning commute and it’s-five-o-clock-somewhere, it would've made things a little less awkward when my mom came to pick my sister up later that day.
It was June in North Carolina, and therefore hotter’n’hell, when my mom packed up the three of us girls - my older sister in the midst of godawful adolescence, my stubborn three-year-old self, and the screaming infant that was my baby sister - to battle the summer shopping crowds and find a decent Father’s Day gift.
As she tells it, we were causing all kinds of commotion and my mom was at her wits end when it happened. She picked a shirt off the clothing rack, and it fell to the ground. She asked me to please pick it up.
Hands full with a cranky infant, she tried again, with just a little more gusto. “Dani. Pick. It. Up.”
“No. I’m not the one who dropped it.”
My older sister swooped in to grab the shirt before World War III exploded, and we headed to the check-out counter. My mother was fuming, and there, the lecture started.
“I don’t give a damn who dropped the shirt. I’m holding the baby, and I’m your mother, so you do what I say. You understand that? If I tell you to stand on your head in the corner and whistle Dixie, by God, you do it. Got it?”
The car ride home was a long, hot, and quiet one. Until I spoke up.
“...I don’t know how to whistle.”
My momma swears my sister burst a vessel that day, holding in the laughter.
My little sister has a habit of sleep-walking. To this day, she will sometimes wake up with a half-eaten peanut butter sandwich or a warm glass of milk, and she will have zero recollection of how it got into her room.
One morning, when she was about six, we woke and she was missing. At the time, we lived with my grandparents in a large, two-story house on a big plot of land nestled between a busy highway and acres of woods. Terror ensued.
We searched the entire house. We looked under beds, in bathtubs, behind furniture... everywhere we could think of. We combed the yard, checking in the different buildings on our property. She wasn’t in the log cabin in the back yard, she wasn’t in the garage or shed, she wasn’t in the old horse barn. Hysterical, my mom readied herself to call the police. About this time, I went to throw my pajamas into the hamper and get dressed while we waited.
I opened the laundry hamper, and there was my sister, squished inside and folded up with her blanket, fast asleep.
I was a very weird kid. I grew up in a blended family with three sisters. When I was a wee thing of three years, I invented a brother for myself. Chalk it up to one of my sisters having a half-brother of her own, or just the super creative inner-workings of my mind, but I made him up and believed he was real and his name was Silver Crystal.
This is what I remember: Silver Crystal was a very cool older brother. He was in his mid-teens, and he lived with a grandmother that belonged only to him. Sometimes, in my vivid imagination, I was allowed to visit her, and the three of us played football together. Silver Crystal led a very exciting life, and we went on many adventures together through my backyard.
Flash forward a year, and back to real life. My mom came to pick me up from preschool, and was stopped by one of the other mothers there.
“I am so sorry to hear about your son!” she said.
“Oh, I’m Dani’s mom.” My mother knew this woman must have had her confused with someone else.
The woman continued. “Oh, I know. Dani told us today about her brother’s accident.”
“Uhh. What? Dani doesn’t have a brother. She has sisters, but no brother.”
The woman must have looked quite puzzled, but she didn’t give up. “Dani said her brother was in the hospital because he got hit with a baseball bat...”
“Oh my gosh. Dani does NOT have a brother. I do not have a son. I don’t know what she’s talking about. But there’s no brother...”
My mother swears that the woman stepped back as she tried to explain away this mysterious boychild story. She said the woman’s face went from puzzled to completely suspicious in no time at all.
Later, my parents sat me down and tried to explain to me that I did not have a brother. For a four-year-old, I must say, I was pretty dang smart.
“Is God my father?” I asked.
“Well, yes.” They had no idea where this was going.
“Is Jesus his son?” I continued.
“If God is my father, and Jesus is his son, then Jesus is my brother. Yes, I DO have a brother.”
There was nothing more they could say.
For the record: My mom drinks coffee, Diet Coke, and the occasional water while driving. She’s never really made me stand on my head in a corner, although she did make me learn to whistle, just in case. My sister was discovered in the hamper before the cops were called, but it probably took a few years off my poor momma’s life. No one I have ever known was beaten with a baseball bat. I told you, I was a weird kid with a wild imagination.
Happy Mother’s Day, Ma. You’ve taught me to laugh at life, because really, sometimes there’s nothing else you can do. Thank you for raising us the way you did. Despite all the hell we put you through, I think we’ve each turned out better-than-alright. You are amazing. I love you.