The day before yesterday an almost 5 year old, in split-second ‘duh’ moment, called me “Mom.” It was funny and one of those things that just slips out; he caught himself and had that “why did I just do that?” look on his face. I think it was all the more amusing to me, because I did the same thing when I was in second grade. And that one little slip of his took me all the way back to that almost-dim little classroom in Nurnberg, Germany, and it stayed on my mind as I drove towards home.
I walked right up to the teacher’s desk one to ask a question and instead of her name, “Mommy” slipped out. She was clearly not amused, snapping “I’m not your mother.” I was horrified, not only for the slip, but because it clearly ticked her off. Now, normally she was a very sweet, extremely patient and kind teacher—still one of my favorites—but something about that moment just got under her skin.
Looking back with an adult perspective, I understand that she could have simply been having a bad day. It could have been PMS. She might have had a whopper of a fight with her husband that morning. Or maybe she was just tired of my crap.
After all, I’m the one who once puked all over everything during the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m the one who talked nonstop, usually while she was actively trying to teach. And I’m the one who, when caught shrieking at the top of my lungs because Mark DeSimone was chasing me with paint, lied through her teeth to get out of standing in the corner by swearing I was allergic to the paint. And later, when asked for the truth, I admitted that I wasn’t really allergic—but then compounded the error of my ways by saying I’d just said that because if I got paint on me, my mom would beat me when I got home.
I don’t think the teacher believed that either.
She knew my mother.
But I got out of an afternoon spent in the corner.
It might explain why she was so annoyed by me calling her Mommy—as if there were any way she’d give birth to this spawn of Satan.
I was having a good day when the kid next door called me “Mom.” I found it funny, especially since I was never called Mom while the Boy was growing up. It was “Mommy” until he was a little over 2 years old, and then by my first name (long story short: all the kids I watched in the gym day care called me by my first name, and he picked up on it. It never mattered enough to me to change, though for some reason it really—and I mean really irritated total strangers). Anytime I was in a store or the mall (or any public place, for that matter) if a kid screamed out for his Mom, I never did the automatic jerk of the head to see if it was my kid. Mom was always someone else.
Turns out, it still is.
And it’s still funny…though I did not—would not—make a point of saying “I’m not your Mother.”
I’m someone’s Mom…just not by that name.
I kinda liked the reminder.