By Viv Sade
My four children love nothing more than to get together and discuss my lack of parenting skills.
My two youngest boys like to reminisce about the day I became irate with their behavior and grounded them and two neighbor boys.
They tried their best to tell me, but I was in the middle of a Maternal Grounding Rant.
“But mom, he’s …”
“Not another word! You’re grounded!”
“But mom, you don’t …”
“To your rooms, now!”
“But Viv, we don’t have a room.”
I stared at the two boys. They looked vaguely familiar. Still, I wasn’t convinced they weren’t mine. Hadn’t they just spent the last two nights on our sofa, playing video games while eating our chips and drinking our soda?
The smaller boy even had the same sloping Sade nose and looked a little like one of my brothers, which would be his uncle, if he was indeed my child.
I stood my ground. “You’re grounded. All four of you. And, that’s that!”
After the two boys ran screaming out the back door is when I realized that my two older children no longer lived with me, and I had once again overgrounded.
My dad had the same disciplinarian dementia.
Mom and Dad had eight kids, one neighbor had 13, another had 11 and several others had at least five or six kids. The adults in the neighborhood were always legitimately confused as to who belonged to whom.
My siblings and I learned to wait until loud, rumbling snores were being emitted from the depths of the recliner before breaking curfew. When Dad was in that state, getting past him and sliding unobserved into the bedroom was a breeze. But, this was only possible when my mom, a nurse, worked the night shift. Mom always caught you, sometimes even interrupting your thought process as you were making plans to sneak out: “I know what you’re thinking about doing and, well, don’t even think about it.”
She was psychic and could thwart bad behavior before I had even thought of committing the crime: “If you are thinking of telling me you are going to Susan’s for the night while she tells her mother that she’s coming over here for the night and then running around all night, TPing houses and smoking cigarettes, forget it — you’re not going.”
Geesh, not once had my plans included smoking cigarettes, and I was kind of peeved that my mom was more of an all-inclusive and proactive party planner than I was.
One night, while mom was working and dad was in charge, my brother Paul and his friend Billy were supposed to be having a sleepover upstairs. Of course, the second they heard the freight train of sonic snores, they were out and about, doing whatever stupid things unsupervised teens do when they are out and about, while Dad continued to snore peacefully in the recliner.
The boys came home well after midnight and, using the outside rose trellis, climbed to Paul’s second floor bedroom as they had done many times before. But that was when they were younger and smaller.
The trellis creaked and groaned before cracking in half and falling to the ground, burying Billy and Paul in an avalanche of prickly, but aromatic, roses and splintered boards.
The crash woke the dead. And my father.
He was furious — mostly for being awakened — and grounded them both for two weeks.
He would not listen to anyone who suggested that there might be legal ramifications involved in grounding a kid who is not really your kid.
My dad was from the era of “if you’re in my house, you abide by my rules.”
Obviously it’s a genetic trait.