Saturday, May 18, 2013

Listening Should Be a Two-Way Thoroughfare

I always made a point of listening to my mother. I refrained from rolling my eyes, lest they freeze that way. I limited the number of times I stuck my tongue out at my sister, because that was the childhood equivalent of flipping the bird. I did not swear, or even think of saying the words fart or poop inside the family abode. I put on clean underwear every day in case I was in an accident. For a lifetime of this compliant behavior, I expected my mother to reciprocate.

Mom attended Genius's graduation Friday night. He was only allowed two tickets for seats on the floor of the gym. Since I had my regular reserved seat as part of the faculty, Mom and Hick were taking the floor seats. Hick got there extremely early to lay claim to prime folding-chair real estate. Mom arrived soon after with The Pony and my sister, the former-mayor's wife. Sis had to sit in the bleachers. Not a problem in itself. But she was saddled with the task of saving seats for her daughter and her boyfriend. Not Sis's boyfriend. That would be just wrong. The former mayor would frown on that. The boyfriend of my niece was being dropped off with her, by the former mayor, in fact.

Mom wanted to save Sis some sharp elbowing. and keep her from losing her voice shouting, "Taken. Taken. These seats are TAKEN!" She planned to sit a while with Sis, and let The Pony take up the floor chair with Hick until he had to prepare for his Pomp and Circumstancing with the band.

Mom has been to the Backroads gym many times. She knows the set-up. I told her that since she would be on the floor, she needed to take the concrete steps. There are two sets of them at opposite corners. Catty-corner to each other. Walking down the metal bleachers is not recommended. They are the fold-up kind. That means they are not set in stone. Not bolted down. They sway like a Japanese high-rise on a shake platform. In addition, the handrails pop into the base. Handrails can't fold up, you know. The handrails are not continuous. You have to make a grab for the next one while you go down one or two steps. I did not want Mom anywhere near those septuagenarian-hip-thirsty monsters.

I wandered about the halls, waiting for my faculty buddies to to arrive so we could swap various and sundry hard candies to slip down our Master's-sleeved black robes. I popped into the gym to see where Hick had set up his Genius-valedictory-speech-recording studio. I spied Sis sliding onto a bleacher over halfway down from the mezzanine. AND THERE WAS MOM TRAILING DOWN THE STEPS BEHIND HER!

MOM! Hanging on to the wobbly handrail on the swaying bleacher steps, descending like an acrophobic, soon-to-be-eliminated Amazing Race contestant rappelling face-first down the side of Dubai Tower. With her septuagenarian hips!

She didn't know I saw her. I must have told her fifteen times not to go down those orthopedic-surgeon's-dream steps. To use the sturdy solid concrete metal railed steps.

Sometimes, I think I'm just wasting my breath.


  1. Sometimes mom's gotta do what Mom's gotta do, or grand moms in this case.

  2. Haven't you learned by now that moms can dish it out, they can't take it? Congrats to the Genius, and ANYone who climbs those bleachers. My grandson is a volleyball amost-pro and I have one footed it up many bleachers and clung to my husband's back like a monkey baby coming back down.

  3. Yes, mothers do not have to listen to their children but apparently, those monstrous steps did not cause your mom to tumble.

    Tell her, because of her transgression, "No Chex Mix for you!" (for the next couple of months, at least).

  4. Your mom rocks. Sometimes life is too short for the safe stairs.

  5. Stephen,
    Well, she had to tell me after the fact, "Those bleacher steps are really shaky. And that handrail wobbles a lot."

    And you don't even have septuagenarian hips.

    Mom makes her own Chex Mix. Not as good as mine, of course. Hers is the bastardized version with BUGLES!

    My mom DOES rock! Sometimes her memory is too short for the safe stairs.