Saturday, July 14, 2012
When you become a mom you are instantly deputized by the powers of the universe to do mom things like help children who have toppled off bicycles or approach a child who is obviously lost. In the past you may have thought, "I wonder if I should try to help?" or when you were much younger you really did not even notice a kid who fell off a bike, but now you know viscerally that you must help. And not only that you must help but that you have all the authority needed to take charge because --you are a mom.
The magic powers that make you a Deputy Mom are not the same powers that turn you into Super Mom. Super Mom powers are those that enable you, who are so squeamish you literally had to put your head down between your legs or you would have passed out when a friend told you about a particularly gory episode with a broken glass, to look your toddler in the eye while holding a washcloth to a cut on his chin that reveals bone, and say calmly, "We may have to go to the ER for this one."
Usually you realize you possess this power the first time you encounter a large spider near your new baby. Though you have spent your entire life dealing with spiders by shrieking for help from the nearest person in the house and/or closing the door and simply not going in the room where the spider is for a few days, you realize at that moment that you and only you must kill the spider. And then you do it --because you are Super Mom.
Super Mom powers and Deputy Mom powers come from the same place: a very clear realization that if you don't take care of this no one will. But Super Mom powers are used to protect your own child from danger where as Deputy Mom powers are used to help make this world a better place in general.
With Deputy Mom powers you have the right, nay the obligation, to help or correct all endangered or misguided children as needed. You may find yourself calling out to a teen on a skateboard, "Hey, where's your helmet?" or to a tween, "Watch your language I've got toddlers here!" ( I must mention here that I live in a place where the children are all incredibly polite and usually answer with a wave and a "Sorry" instead of an "Up yours old lady" like they would have when I was growing up.)
There is only one very important rule when you invoke your Deputy Mom authority and that is you must never, never, never use the power if the parent of the errant or imperiled child is present. That is poor form. But feel free to tell the potty-mouth in the carpool, "Oh dear no, Justin, we do not say Mother Fucker in this van."
Fathers are also deputized but they seldom use their authority to call kids out on safety violations. For one thing, safety violations often go undetected by them or even admired as an act of boyhood derring-do as in , "Look that kid is getting towed on his skate board by his brother driving that SUV! That looks so fun!" So don't count on them to get the neighborhood hoodlum to wear sneakers instead of flip-flops when he mows the lawn but they should feel moved to correct rude or unkind behavior.
Once when we were leaving the movies a teen called out to a girl he knew. When she turned to smile at him he MOOED at her! Jeff grabbed the kid by the shoulder, "Did you just moo at that girl?" he asked in a tone that clearly conveyed he did not find that acceptable. The kid tried to deny it but Jeff would have none of it, "Yes you did. I saw the whole thing. That is the most unkind thing I've ever seen anyone do and if I ever see you do it again you will be very, very sorry." Now I have known Jeff for nearly 30 years and I can tell you, though is he a champion of the underdog, he never did stuff like that before he had kids.
So if you are a new mom (Leslie) I dedicate this blog to you and I officially deputize you and your spouse (Chris) as keepers of civilization.