Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Raising a Bad Ass

Kidlet was accepted to join a competitive team of kids in the FIRST LEGO League competition. FLL is a ridiculously cool program focusing on science, engineering and problem-solving for kids 9-14 years old. In other words, the kids who we will all be working for in 25 years.

But like everything in life, with participation comes meetings. At least this meeting had brownies—something lacking in that morning’s project meeting at work.

I looked around at the mostly moms and some dads that were listening to the team coach go over expectations and practice schedules. And I couldn’t help but notice… One of these moms was not like the others. One of these moms just didn’t belong.

One of us was wearing a sleeveless roller derby shirt with a prominent—if inadvertently displayed—tattoo on her shoulder and a diamond in her nose to match the ones running up her left ear.

True, one of the moms seated nearby was sporting some ink. A tiny outline of a heart on her foot, about the size of a dime. Hardcore.

One of us was wearing a short skirt that revealed all the bruises on her legs, caused by both falling while attempting a turn-around toe stop and by injections of Avonex. And it was a good thing that the bruises were there. They kept people from immediately noticing that neither time nor the energy was spent shaving the aforementioned legs.

True, one of the moms was telling us that the reason she was looking frump was because she was coming from yoga class. And, oh, are these brownies gluten-free?

You have probably cracked my secret code by now. Yes… This oddball woman I write of is actually me. It is hard to believe, I know. I will give you a moment to ponder and accept this. It is true. I still haven’t shaved my legs.

The other moms in the room were all very lovely women. Very nice. Very accommodating and helpful. Very willing to share the secret to chewy—not crusty—brownies.

Aside: For all you readers living outside the great state of Utah, you might think I am painting this picture with too wide a brushstroke. Let me assure you, I am not. I won’t go so far to call the Wasatch Front moms Stepford wives. Maybe Stepford-ish or Stepford Lite. Wait, that sounds more like a beer…

You will have to take my word for it. I am the odd (wo)man out. And, for a kid, it is hard enough to be hurdling towards puberty without also having to deal with having “that mom.”

We all can think back and remember the classmate of ours who had “that mom.” The one who got to watch R-rated movies (yes, kiddo and I watch our favorite Christmas movie—Die Hard—together every year), was never in trouble for cursing (Kidlet has had to deal with a shit-ton of things that would stagger most grown-up. I think he has earned the right for an occasional swear word), or always stayed up until all hours (I have neither the time or inclination to drag Kidlet to bed by his ear. If he is tired in the morning, it’s his own damn fault).

So yeah. I am “that mom.” Making my kid “that kid.” And who in the hell wants to be “that kid.” I felt really bad about it. I want his life to be just a little bit easier than mine was. I want him to feel good about himself. I want him to be successful in school. Academic but popular. Cool but nerdy (in the best way possible). The kid that you want to both cheat off of and go skateboarding with.

But I had made him “that kid.” I was feeling a little down as we were climbing into the car for the drive home.

“I’m sorry I’m not like the other moms,” I started. But before I could launch into the speech I had structured in my head—an explanation that it is OK to be different, but that I never wanted to embarrass him in front of his friends—he said this:

“I know. It’s because you are a bad ass. I like that about you. It’s awesome.”

And he went on reading his Lego League handouts, not giving it another thought.

I just shut up, and we simply continued basking in our mutual bad-assery. I like that about us.

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