“Mombo! Wisten, I wrote a new song for my formonica. It’s called Henrwietta on the farwm”. It never fails, when my son sees the hair dryer out and the concealer being applied, the bathroom turns into a concert hall. The kid can want absolutely nothing to do with me all day, but the second he thinks I may be going out, he’s determined to delay my preparation. Already running behind, I was getting ready to attend a little Christmas gathering with a few of my lady friends. I was fairly certain there would be pictures taken and was trying not to look like a broken down sea hag. He now calls me “Mombo” for reasons I have yet to determine. It could be an homage to Sly Stalone’s Rambo, a reference to the dance, or something he came up with entirely on his own, whatever the inspiration…it’s my new name.
My brother is a musician and has made it a point to fill my son’s life with all kinds of musical instruments. Two years ago, he bought him a drum. I’m still actively plotting against him for this gift. (Someday, Mikey….someday.) I was trying to figure out if he was responsible for the harmonica my son is blowing into when I was distracted by how good he actually sounds. When he’s done playing “Henrietta on the farm,” I clap and tell him he sounds like John Popper, “I’m not done yet, Mombo”. “THANK YOU, CLWEVELAND! AND GOOD NIGHT” he yells, as he takes a bow. The Lightning McQueen sunglasses he’s wearing tumble off of his face in the process. Why’s he wearing sunglasses? Everyone knows harmonica players wear sunglasses, duh.
“Ok. Now I’m done. Who’s John Pop Tart?” he asks. “Popper, buddy. John Popper. He’s a guy that plays the harmonica in a band called Blues Traveler,” I explain, leaving out the parts about Popper’s near fatal heart failure, gastric bypass surgery, and alleged marijuana possession. What’s important here…is the harmonica. “He’s from Cleveland” I add. I can tell by the glaze that is forming over his eyes that he’s not really in the mood for a history lesson on music right now; he just wants to jam. My brain is pulling double duty; I debate whether or not to curl my eyelashes in front of him as I contemplate asking where in the hell he came up with the song title. I decide to do neither.
I plucked my eyebrows while he was watching once; this resulted in him high-jacking my favorite pair of tweezers. I still haven’t been able to find them. I know he has them because “Back-up Elmo” now has curious bald spots above his eyes and I occasionally find red fur hidden behind the bed. Back-up Elmo was purchased to replace the old, well-loved “Regular Elmo”. My mother’s attempt to transfer my son’s affections from the legless puppet that looks like he’s escaped from a leprosy colony, to a new, clean monster, complete with the lower half of his body, failed miserably. Back-up Elmo is always going to play second fiddle to the amputee; I bet that chaps his ass. I really miss those tweezers.
“Can I have some peanut butter crackers?” he sheepishly asks. He’s watching himself in the mirror to be sure he’s making his best cute face. “You’re really pulling out all the stops to keep me from getting ready, aren’t you?” I question, just to let him know I was on to him. This is a child that will never admit to being hungry. But, because I’m part Sicilian and genetically predisposed to feeding people, I put down my angled eye-shadow brush and make my way to the kitchen to prepare the snack. I know damn good and well these crackers are going to be fed to the dog when he thinks I’m not looking. In the cabinet I find the peanut butter and the box of “Limited Edition” snowflake shaped Ritz crackers. Why do food companies insist on printing stupid things like “Limited Edition” on their packaging? It’s food. Food has a shelf life. Technically, ALL food is “Limited Edition”.
I pull three snowflake shaped crackers out of the waxed, paper sleeve and plop a bit of peanut butter on each one. “Can you at weast make smiwey faces?” my boy asks, displeased with my hurried attempt to nourish. I smooth out the dollops and artfully carve smiley faces with the knife. He’s satisfied for the moment and I go back in the bathroom to continue with the make-up. Predictably, the dog and he join me a few seconds later. My big, clumsy hound was exhibiting the tell tale signs of peanut butter mouth, and it appears that she’s come in to thank me for the snack. “Mom, I taught Tiny a new twick. Watch!”. “This oughta be good,” I mumble under my breath. Tiny, as lovable as she is, isn’t the kind of dog that does tricks. She does whatever she damn well pleases, which normally involves stealing cupcakes off the kitchen counter and laying in the way. She’s more of a furry hurdle, than she is crowd-pleasing, wonder puppy. “Sit! Speak! Rowl-ovew! Tiny did not follow his directions, instead she let out a big burp and laid down, taking the boy off of his feet in the process.
I wanted to scream “Oh Jesus! Just let me draw my eyebrows on!” but I couldn’t, because I was laughing too hard to form the words. “Get off of me Tiny,” a muffled voice demanded from under the dog. Tiny wasn’t moving. “Plwease?” that didn’t work either. “Wanna go for a walk?” Ahh, the magic words. She leapt up and released the boy. “We’re gonna have to prwactice some morwe” he declared, once he finally got the feeling back in his legs. I started with the eyebrow penciling, only to discover that I was using a lovely shade of purple eyeliner, instead of the “natural blonde” I should have selected. Yep, I had two lilac arches on my forehead. There isn’t a lot you can do to correct this and I had to start over.
It was almost 6:30, this is the time my son’s father picks him up for their weekly overnight visit. As much as I hate to see the boy go, I was really looking forward to being able to get ready without interruption. I put the make-up on hold and decided to get dressed. I bought a new outfit with a gift certificate I got back in September. As I put it on, I laugh, thinking about how it’s something I would have worn as a freshman in high school. Leggings are back…and since it seems that they are the only things Macy’s is selling in the way of pants these days, I have no choice but to wear them again. “You wook stylwish,” the little guy compliments from my doorway as he watches me get dressed. “Stylwish” is something he says when I look fashionable, so I’m pleased with my wardrobe selection. “Which shoes?” I ask my budding clotheshorse. “Boots,” he says, matter-of-factly. “Really? Boots? Ok”. I put on the pair of ankle booties per his suggestion, and immediately go from feeling like I look now and edgy, to feeling like a hipster Pomeranian in fake patent leather. I was going to have to change the footwear, after he left.
The headlights shining through the window by the door alert me to the fact that his father has arrived. We go out to greet him, but he is lingering in his truck, writing something with a pained expression on his face. This expression always makes me happy, it means it’s child support check day. Our son happily jumps around while we make small talk. I make sure that he has his school clothes, Elmo and the harmonica. My son is holding the armful of plastic, talking trucks he always takes with him for entertainment. The combination of talking toys and musical instruments ensures that it’s not going to be a quiet night on the farm. His father begrudgingly hands me the check. Parting with money, unless its being spent on himself, is something he doesn’t do very well.
As he assists my son’s entrance into his vehicle, I glance at the paper note. It’s not signed. “Uh, hey. You didn’t sign this,” I chirp, while standing near the passenger-side door. “Oh, right. Sorry. I got distracted,” he apologizes, as he snatches back the check and quickly makes some scribbles on the signature line. I know him well enough to know that the only thing more important to him than Jameson Irish Whiskey…is money. I can also tell when he’s trying to put one over on me, which is why I looked at the check in the first place. He didn’t forget to sign the check; he was hoping to be out of the driveway before I noticed. I never gave him the impression I was simple, I don’t know why he insists on acting as though I am.
The only thing I can do is shake my head and laugh. As I do this, a moment from the “Sara must be stupid” chronicles pops into my head. A few months after we initially split-up, he got wind that I might be dating another man. For some reason, he fancy’s himself quite the puppet master…only he’s a moron, and you have to have at least some smarts to manipulate people. He sent me roses, anonymously, thinking I would call whomever it was he thought I was seeing and thank them for the flowers. Oh the hilarity he must’ve assumed would ensue after he sent the long-stemmed prank, trying to make me look like I was courting multiple dudes.
My life was so upside-down at this point that I didn’t assume anything. The box of buds confused me. I called 1-800-Flowers because I thought the delivery was a mistake. While the operator would not divulge the identity of the person responsible, she did confirm their geographic location and first few letters of their last name. The roses went in the trash and I went on the warpath. My anger and actions after that only really accomplished making two lawyers very wealthy. We don’t get along any better now than we did then…but we now have court papers to keep us from acting like the infantile twits we both can be. It’s sad.
After the boy is settled in his car seat, I quietly suggest he play “Henrietta on the farm” for his father, as I kiss him goodbye. “I don’t wanna. I can’t play the formonica,” he declares. Having a child this age is a lot like caring for Michigan J. Frog. When no one is around he could be singing “Hello my baby. Hello my honey. Hello my ragtime gal,” while wearing a top hat and doing the can-can. As soon as he has an audience, the only thing he is likely to do is croak slowly, and do nothing. He’s good at making me look like an idiot. I’m used to it. I bid them farewell and go back in to the house to rapidly throw my face on. I do so at an impressive speed and dart out the door, now having 15 minutes to get to a location that was more than an hour away. I don’t like to be late, but it’s something that comes with the territory. I knew the girls would understand. I got more than a few compliments on the boots my son selected, which surprised me…because, in the rush, I honestly forgot I was wearing them.