My mom always knew how to “get my goat.” She would say things like, “Why don’t you let me take you to my beautician so we can do something with that hair.” Just a little subtle. She always had something to say that would just rub me the wrong way. When I would get pissed, she would always add, “My God, Vickie, you are SOOOOO sensitive,” and then add a snickering laugh. Oh, I think she meant everything she said to me. But, it wasn’t until I had children that I realized that she really truly didn’t like me. How did I know this? She bought my kids the Fisher Price Marching Band.
What better way to piss off your daughter than to come visit with a huge wrapped present for your children? She knows that it would be too late to discuss the appropriateness of the gift. She always seemed to bring something that needed batteries on the day stores were closed because of a holiday. My kids would whine because the gift was just sitting there, lifeless, and damnit, Mommy, we want to play with it.
All my mom could come up with was, “Why don’t you keep batteries in the house? Everyone I know keeps batteries in the house, Vickie. Well, except you.” You have no idea how many times I have left the room, turned to face her so my husband could see me, and flip her off behind her back. So, this particular day, the kids tore open the package and there it was, looking at me. Are you freaking kidding me?
Fisher Price Marching Band….Guaranteed to drive your mother crazy. I think I could have put my fist in my mouth. I sat there, stunned. This, from the woman, who went outside, screaming at Mr. Softee for making too much noise with his ice cream truck on summer afternoons. Well, that was a lovely tune. This Fisher Price Band was going to make dogs howl.
The kids were so excited. What a great grandma! They opened up the box to find many wonderful instruments of music. There was a drum with sticks, and a lovely strap that the child could put around their neck so they could walk around while beating the hell out of the drum. And then there were the cymbals. Remember, my mouth was ajar for a very long time. It seemed like they kept taking musical instruments out of the box. And then my mom finally spoke to me.
“What’s great about this, Vickie, is that when you are done, all of the instruments store in the drum.” She looked at me like she was doing me a huge favor buying something that was also its own storage facility. I didn’t know if I wanted to strangle her or strangle her.
There was also a glockenspiel or xylophone in the mix. But, the worst seemed to be a sliding whistle. No, what was worse was watching the expression on my husband’s face. He was smiling from ear to ear. He knew that shit was about to hit the fan and he wanted a front row seat.
But, you know what? I didn’t say a word about it to her. I thanked her like she bought the best gift in the world. And then I said. “Well, Adam, and Alex, why don’t you put on a show for Grandma while I go get dinner ready?” I am SURE she would love to see how much fun you are going to have with it. And as I left the living room, I smiled at her and finished by saying, “Make sure you beat on the drum extra loud for Grandma.”
And they did. Grandma asked them to quit about 5 times. Each time I said, “Now Grandma, you bought this for them and they want to thank you by performing for you. Kids, how about playing, “This Old Man…” or “Grandma thinks you guys are getting tired. She really would like you to play as loooong as you can.” Oh, yeah, I milked it for as long as I could. She was happy when dinner was ready.
We all sat down to eat when I came up with a great idea. “Adam, how about some dinner music? You can play an instrument for a few minutes while Alex is eating and then when she is finished, she can play and you can eat? Which instrument would you like to hear, Grandma?” I finished with a little tilt of my head, and batted my eyes so there was no mistake what I was now doing to her.
My mom didn’t stay too long after dinner. She had to drive two hours home and I’m sure she did it in silence. I even let the kids march out with her to her car. They sure loved their marching band. My mom gave me a dirty look as she drove off. I blew her a kiss.
The kids drove me crazy with their new present. They would march from the living room to the dining room, to the kitchen and back into the living room, beating the drum and slamming the cymbals. They had a blast and I let them go at it. But, one day, oops, they couldn’t find the sliding whistle. “I wonder what happened to it?” It had a terrible sound to it and I was hearing it in my dreams. It had to go. I put it at the bottom of their toybox so I wouldn’t feel like too much of a witchy mom. But, dear God, it was all I could take. But, they had so much fun with the gift from Grandma.
So much so that when we went up to visit Grandma, I bought a second Fisher Price Marching Band that they could keep at her house. “This is the best gift EVER, Grandma! They love it!”
Two can play this game.