Monday, March 1, 2010

Mommy Dearest

It was 1968 -- the year of hope, revolution and tragedy. But all I wanted to do was watch a new show called the Mod Squad. Those of you old enough to remember this show, about three mod detectives, won't want to admit you remember it, much less than you watched it. I've never even seen reruns of this on Nick at Nite, so it must have been really bad. I couldn't watch it because my dad would not let us watch television on school nights. EVER. Except on Sunday nights when he would make us watch Bonanza as a family -- forced family fun, as my sister Barbie refers to it.

I also had to watch Lawrence Welk with him -- I can't remember if he tortured the rest of the family in this particular way. My fans know that I did not have the best relationship with my father, and it did not help that he made me take accordion lessons. That sentence originally was that he made me "play" the accordion, but saying I "played" the accordion is like saying that my dogs "communicate" really well when they "speak." The only thing I remember playing with actual notes was "The Caissons Go Rolling Along"(dad was military - big surprise). My brother, a talented musician, would have given his eye teeth for a guitar and lessons. Which is probably one of the reasons Dad made me take lessons on this vile instrument from this creepy old guy. And probably one of the reasons that during my first and only recital, my brother ruined my hairdo: my mom had put my very thin, fine hair into a pitiful bun on top of my head, which a zephyr would have undone; my brother blew very gently on it, and it collapsed, leaving me in tears. I had to "play" this instrument of torture in front of people, some whose kids were playing Mozart on the piano, and you ruin my hair? Dude!

Last night John and I were talking about our rather dreadful childhoods and the fact that we both escaped to books as kids. There just wasn't much choice. (And that we both played outside until long after dark. And that milk was cheaper. Blah blah blah.) Our kids would much rather play Warcraft or watch crappy television than read Great Expectations. John is a big fan of Warcraft and I am a big fan of crappy television, but enough is enough. We're going to follow our President and the First Lady and allow television and the computer only on the weekends. Last week they had their privileges suspended for a few days, and our youngest hand-stitched a purse from some old jeans. Mostly they just bitch and ask when they can have their privileges back, but once in a while they make do just fine: reading, playing, making silk purses from sows' ears.

Our family time, except at dinner, is too much each to our own. Dinner often consists of us telling the kids really touching, funny stories about our lives. They rarely react or laugh, however, and we have to send them to their rooms for being sullen. Tonight we regaled them with tales of past diving exploits and a guy we dubbed Butt Belly -- one of those really fat guys who thought he looked good in a teensy Speedo. The name Butt Belly did make them chuckle politely.

But I digress. Quality family time, including a book club! Whether they like it or not. I just ordered three used copies of Tortilla Flat, which will be our first book club selection. Wish us luck.

p.s. Thanks to Sue K. for the title of this post. Which reminds me of some old-fashioned family fun. The girls have never seen Mommy, Dearest, but I told them about the most famous scene. I used to wait until they were almost asleep and then rush into their room, turn on the light and scream "No Wire Coat Hangers!" I have and am giving them some seriously good material for their therapists/memoirs.


  1. Check out this blog from another Little Rock mom and see if you can find any ideas. She has a Mother/Daughter book club, although it may be too young for your girls.


  2. I learned to play When the Caissons Go Rolling Along on the flutophone in Beginner's Band in 6th grade. My mother was really upset when I dropped out of band to play sports. At any rate, dust off the old accordion Susie. We could do a duet, and torture your kids. Better yet, make one of them learn accordion and the other flutophone. Make them play the old classics.