Yes, actually, I DO deserve the Mother of the Decade award. It's just that my children keep takin' me down.
Years ago, my daughter who was four at the time, came smiling into the bedroom, holding her arms out in front of her, hands clasping together then pulling apart, together then apart, spreading a thousand spidery fibers from palm to palm.
“Look Mom! I’m Spider-girl! We found some spiderman goo, and now I can climb up walls. But—” (smear across her shirt)—my webs (smear) won’t (smear) come (smear) off (smear, smear).
“Did you wash your hands?” I asked, barely looking up twice and counting crochet stitches.
“Yeah. But it still won’t (smear).”
I reluctantly set aside my project and took her into the bathroom to wash her hands. After scrubbing with soap and a washcloth, there was absolutely no improvement. For heaven’s sake.
So I grabbed the fingernail polish remover and some cotton balls, then scrubbed and scrubbed until the cotton balls dried out, then began to spread and adhere to every square inch of her hands, front and back.
“What in the?! Now WHAT is this stuff? Spiderman goo what? Where did you get it?”
Just then Seth walked in with a mailbox stuck to his face, and both kids shared the story; Chris had found this goo (sticky insect pad) in the garage, then cast his net throughout the neighborhood, enticing all the kids with, “HEY, WANNA BE SPIDERMANS?”
They came scurrying from every corner, pressing hands and feet into the sticky platter, then taking turns placing them strategically on our garage door frame and attempting to scale the 20 foot walls. Finding little success, they then entertained themselves with the webbing on their hands and feet, until they realized that everything they touched—grass, bugs, patches of hair, the trampoline—EVERYTHING THEY TOUCHED was stuck to them, and they couldn’t get it off.
About this time, while I tried to decontaminate the children and inadvertently covered my own hands, arms and clothes with this indestructible glue, I heard the kitchen door slam shut, and a child fled silently up the stairs. I knew it was Chris.
“CHRIIIIIIIS!” I bellowed from the bottom of the staircase. And when I say bellowed, I don’t mean yelled. I mean—and I am not proud of this—but I mean I reached into the deepest innards of my guts and pulled a sound out of me that only belongs in the depths of the bog of eternal stench and had no business whatsoever coming out of a mother’s mouth. But it did. And I only share this with you because it’s too late to press charges.
Anyway, “CHRIIIIIIS!” I bellowed. And peeking from around the corner, I saw the panicked face of a child on his knees. Not because he was begging, no, not because of that. But rather, because his feet were three inches thick with debris which had accumulated as he tried to wipe them off on the grass.
To save time, I’ll fast forward this story an hour, past the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, which culminated in the three sobbing, hiccuping children sitting on the kitchen counter while their hysterical mother doused them head to toe with her last ditch effort—some sort of toxic solvent that came with an explicit skull and crossbones warning.
“Are we going to die?” they whispered, hoping for reassurance. And once again, I am NOT proud of this, but I may have answered, “Yes. Yes, we just might die.” But the thing is, I kind of thought we could, because for whatever reason, it seemed logical to me that glue could be fatal.
They were silent from that point on, surrendering themselves to their mother, and trusting that, if she could, she would save them. And save them I did.
As I finished stripping the final layer of skin from their bones, I heard a noise and turned around just in time to see our neighbor, tiptoeing out of the front door as quiet as a mouse, and only then remembered that he had been downstairs the entire time, doing some carpentry for us.
And that is when I wished that the glue had taken my life, because it might be less painful than dying of humiliation.
We haven’t made eye contact since. Almost had to move.
Fortunately, he kept those things in his blessed heart all these years, probably waiting for me to come clean...which I just did. So go ahead, Johnny. The tale is yours to tell...just try to make sure that I sound thin when you do.