There comes a point in every child’s life when they have a very startling reality revealed.
It has nothing to do with where babies come from, either.
It’s the harsh truth that – as much as it pains me to say this – I am not perfect.
Cole made it almost 11 years before the illusion he had of me, his mother, being perfect and flawless was shattered.
Realizing Mama is not perfect is more devastating than other truths we find out in childhood. I remember the day I realized my own Mama wasn’t.
I was only four, but it was life changing nonetheless.
Granny was far from perfect but she considered herself a limited edition, so her flaws were part of what made her unique.
That, and she’d just as soon slap you silly if you told her otherwise.
But my son thought I hung the moon and the stars and was right about everything.
If I said it, it was gospel. He believed what I told him – he knew I wouldn’t lie to him and if he heard me utter anything to his daddy, he took it as truth.
Mama could tell him something and he would tell me he wasn’t so sure.
“Nennie said she has scorpions that fly. Do you believe her?”
I shook my head.
“She thinks everything is a scorpion. And she thinks everything flies. She is also fairly certain one of their cats is trying to kill her.”
She may not be far off on the cat.
Since the first time I realized Mama was not perfect, I have learned to accept that sometimes, Mama was wrong.
Sure, she was right about somethings – the ex, for one – but some things she was horribly wrong about.
Like that Lancome powder she keeps trying to give me that makes you all shimmery.
No one, unless you’re an extra in a show with vampires, needs to shimmer that much.
Just like she was wrong in the ‘80s when she wore parachute pants with high heels.
So while I love my Mama, I am very aware that she is not perfect.
My child, however, was still living in the fairy tale of me being perfect.
“My Mama said if you do that, it will explode and your brain will melt,” I heard him saying on the phone one day. “And she’s the smartest person I know, so yeah, I wouldn’t do it. Your brain will ooze out your eyeballs.”
As long as I was instilling fear into the elementary crowd and avoiding impending explosions, I was doing my job. And, they believed me.
I was still perfect. I was still right.
Being right was kind of my thing with Cole.
I told him if he touched the gas heater, he would get burned.
“What did I tell you?” I asked. “See – I was right! I am always right!”
I cautioned him on various and sundry other things, all ending with me being right.
“How do you always know what is going to happen?” Cole asked after another brilliant example of my omnipotence.
“Because I am always, always right.”
Oh, oh, oh, how those words can come up and bite you in the tater when you least expect them or want them to.
We were out running errands when we decided we needed to run through a drive thru for ice cream.
I was happy to see coupons for free ice cream in the dash. And Lamar gets on to me about not cleaning out my trash when I exit the van – I just saved a few bucks by being lazy.
See how right I was?
I gave our order and told the clerk we had coupons for the ice cream but not the smoothie.
When she gave the total, it was a lot more than just a smoothie.
“Something’s not right,” I said. “That’s too much.”
“Maybe Daddy got a bigger smoothie?” Cole suggested.
“No,” I said. “I think they are overcharging us. They overcharge you in the drive thru.” The scene from the “Lethal Weapon” movie with Joe Pesci played through my head.
“Leo Getz was right,” I muttered.
“Mama, they are not doing it on purpose, it was just a misunderstanding.”
“Oh, no, it wasn’t,” I said convinced.
Lamar cut him off.
“Cole, don’t question your Mama about money; she can take a glance at a buggy and tell you how much it will be. If she’s saying they messed up, she’s right.”
“I am just saying it was a mistake. They aren’t doing it on purpose,” he said. “You think they are doing some horrible crime against you personally. They are probably a very nice person. And it is a simple mistake.”
How dare this child attempt to reason with me.
Lamar drew a sharp intake of air.
“Cole, I am sure it is not a mistake. I am right – just you watch.”
My child didn’t miss a beat. Where do you think he gets his dogged stubbornness and relentlessness from?
“It’s going to be an honest mistake – and they are going to be a nice person — and I am going to be the one who’s right. Not you.”
Lamar shook his head.
“He’s just a child; remember that.”
I turned around in my seat and looked at my precious monkey in the back of the van.
He lifted his chin.
“I’m going to be right.”
I don’t want to get into specifics. It was not only an honest mistake, but, the young lady told us she’d see us Sunday at church. I felt like a heel.
“How’s your ice cream?” Lamar asked.
“Delicious,” Cole said. “It tastes like victory.”
The little stinker was right. And we all knew it.