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Frumpy Middle-Aged Mom: No, officer, that's not my child

By Marla Jo Fisher

The Orange County Register

Published: Friday, Nov. 26 2010 11:54 a.m. MST

When you become a parent, you hear horrifying things come out of your mouth, such as, "Just wait until you have children of your own!"

This is likely to send you into a major depression, because you never dreamed you'd utter such terrible cliches. And you never thought you could possibly be as bad a parent as yours were.

I assure you, though, this is normal, so relax and don't grab the Prozac — unless you're going to share with the rest of us.

I don't have any drugs for you, but I do have one phrase to use when your kids are driving up your blood pressure to the point that you feel you might actually have a stroke any second.

I invented this phrase, and I can vouch for its calming effect. Seriously, give it a try. I'll offer you a moneyback guarantee. Are you ready? Here's the phrase:

"That's not my child."

This phrase is very calming whenever your kid is embarrassing you.

Maybe in your heart you know it's not true, but still keep uttering it as a mantra. It will help keep the red from your cheeks and the mortification at bay.

I used it for the first time many years ago, when I took my kids to an art museum. At some point, after cackling loudly, and freaking out the guards by trying to touch every painting, they decided to crawl on their hands and knees through the galleries, pretending to be kitty cats.

My hissed exhortations to "Get up! Get up now!" were only met by emphatic "Meows."

Finally I just ordered them to follow me, and walked out of the museum, uttering this mantra to myself. They crawled and meowed until we got to the car, and I lived to face another day.

The phrase was also useful when we faced another artwork: This one an immense replica of Michelangelo's David, which dominated the shopping arcade at Caesar's Place in Las Vegas.

Since this nude statue is about 8,000 feet high, or so it seemed at the time, his fig leaf is about 80 feet high.

Confronted with a colossal naked marble man, the kids pointed and started squealing, "He's naked!"

Except that those words echoed in the marble halls, so it actually sounded like "HEEEEEE"S NAAAAKKKKKEEEED," as the sound reverberated around the entire center and its overpriced designer boutiques.

I just walked away, red-faced, and murmured to myself, "They're not my kids. They're not my kids. I never saw those kids before in my entire life."

On another occasion in Nevada, I had just bought the kids ice cream and we were walking around a casino while I decided whether it was worth writing a travel story or not.

Out of the corner of my eye, I became vaguely aware that the kids were doing something odd as they trailed along behind me.

But as soon as I would turn around, they would look angelic and take a lick from their ice cream cones.

Then a casino security guard came up to me and said gruffly, "Ma'am, please make your children stop licking the mirrors."

For reasons known only to God, the kids were taking licks of their ice cream, and then licking every mirrored column we passed in the casino.

"Sorry," I told the guard. "Those aren't my children." And I walked away.

Well, I didn't really say that, but I wanted to. What I really said is not printable in a family newspaper.

Next week's calming phrase: It's not my problem.

Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at mfisher@ocregister.com. Read her blog at themomblog.freedomblogging.com/category/frumpy-middleaged-mom-marla-jo-fisher/.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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