Until you start school, your life revolves around your parents. They can do nothing wrong. Only later, in your teen years, do you realize they can do nothing right, and that your sagely friends and, of course, major pop stars, hold the real keys to life. But until then, your parent’s values are your values.
Mommandad were my friends. Apart from the older boy Weird Eddie, Frieda-the-Babysitter and Crazy Old Alice, Mommandad were everything. Dad was my hero, but he was usually away at Work saving the World. So Mom was my model. And she was the one who showed me what to treasure in life. For her, it was books, movies, and arts and crafts. In the Age of the Housewife, these were how she expressed her individuality, her true self.
And so that’s what they were for me.
I was finally going to school! Which was neato, but what was even neato-er was that I got to cross the street all by myself! I still remember the delicious terror of crossing for the first time. I’d been warned that if I attempted to cross alone, cars—hundreds of them—would swoop down and kill me over and over again. Yet here I was, crossing the street and not being killed even once!
But there was one thing I was even prouder of: my new Artist’s Smock! Mom had learned at Open House that we would be doing Art in kindergarten, and would need smocks. So she did what any mother of an Only-Child-Who-Happens-to-be-a-Genius would do. She spent two weeks stitching my personal “Authentic Parisian Artist’s Smock” to perfection, then finished it with a custom monogram just like the ones the penniless impressionists in Paris wore.
The first day of Kindergarten was excruciatingly slow. I blew bubbles in my milk, tapped my toes during nap time. Art finally arrived! But then Miss Shirley spoke the fateful words, “Alright, children, go to the closet and grab the first smock you see.”
By the time I got there, my smock had been snatched by a little cretin named Davey, who wouldn’t know a real artist’s smock from a dress shirt! Which was, in fact, what all of the other smocks in the closet were—kid’s dad’s dress shirts. Mine was the only Authentic Parisian Artist’s Smock. So I went straight to Miss Shirley, and pointed out her hideous error.
“We all need to learn to share,” she replied.
“Share?” I was an Only. Onlies don’t “share!”
Mom was heartbroken. She called the teacher and begged her to reconsider: “I made that smock just for him. It has his monogram on it.”
No exception was made. And I was irrevocably scarred, becoming at last the shattered shell of a man you see before you today.
OK, so I got over it.
But I still treasure storytelling and art, and expressing my true self.
Thanks to you, Mom.