When she was 4, our daughter told her preschool class that her mommy “played on the computer and drove around all day.”
When she was 6, she upgraded my position to “colonist.” For years I imagined myself battling the Redcoats with only my wits and a word processor to guide me.
As the Small Wonders grew, they began to grasp, largely through the reactions of others, what I do. Through my writing, our children became known as the subjects of my work in that Big Fish in a Small Pond way of the world.
I believe Girl Wonder was 10 when she was recognized at a soccer tournament by the name on her jersey. I was concerned that it would be strange for her. She was thrilled and said, with a smile, “I’m a famous child … in Columbiana County.”
As a parent, it’s difficult to know when you are doing a passably good job with small forays into “remarkably good” versus sending your child down the fast track to therapy. I like to think it’s a little of both and, if the latter, they won’t have to pay for years of analysis. They can get right to the meat of how I’ve wronged them. I’ve left a clear paper trail.
As an employee, I’ve always been a bit of a suck up and eagerly anticipated annual performance reviews. I collect them like gold stars and to this day, keep them all, some decades out of date, in a folder to relive my glory days of “prompt, courteous and neat.”
As a parent, I always figured my children would be college age, God willing, before I got a clear handle on how I’ve done, parenting-wise.
I feared that my foibles (many) and tantrums (legendary) would live large in their memory while the roughly one gzillion times I was a good role model would be forgotten.
I knew without question that the time I slid down an icy hill on my butt while bellowing to my son’s friend that I was coming to “save” him would loom large in tears-of-hilarity recollection.
That story really gets good at the point where we knew the boy’s leg wasn’t broken because he had to deftly roll out of the way of me sliding straight at him and screaming. This is my legacy.
Read aloud to the world
This year our daughter invited me to her school’s Thursday morning Mother’s Day Program. There, I sat in a hushed auditorium as my daughter, light of my life and heart of my heart, climbed the stage with paper in hand to read aloud for all to hear what I have come to think of as my Parenting Performance Review.
I include it here in its entirety because it’s my column and I’ll cry if I want to.
* * *
Mom you are amazing…
You support me, and care for me, and so much more…
No one messes with you, considering that you can make someone cry with simple words.
You always stay classy during your arguments, Which doesn’t happen much, but when it does, I find it extremely funny to see the blank look on their unsuspecting faces.
(As you can tell, she never loses an argument)
You have your way with words, like I’ve never seen before. You have made me known around the county from your writing,
For I am now…. Girl Wonder
I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me and said. “Is your mom the one who writes in the newspaper?! Are you Girl Wonder?” and I say with a proud smile, “why yes, yes I am!”
And don’t even get me started with ‘Mr. Wonderful’
He has his share of ‘paparazzi’
Boy wonder, he is an unassuming fellow. In public, he’s quiet and shy. But at home, he’s completely different…
He has had his share of columns consisting of rogue paintballs on the ceiling, and bravery beyond words.
You are so funny, and I love spending time with you.
You brighten up my day, and always know the right thing to say.
You always have my back, whether I’m right or wrong.
You have the best stories, and have more to come…
Mom, I love you, and I am proud to be your daughter.
I love you to the moon and back three times … and all the way to Salem.
* * *
By the time she finished reading that, out loud and on stage, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house — my house anyway.
Best performance review. Ever. Hands down.
It’s going in the file — and written on my heart. Definitely. Forever.