Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1201268-Highways
by KimChi
Rated: E · Non-fiction · Emotional · #1201268
The road you are on may circle back, when you tinker with an old family recipe.
** Images For Use By Upgraded+ Only **

“Mommy, please don’t hurt me.”

Maternal radar caught the words as they floated into the kitchen from the dining room, where my little girl sat engrossed in the bright plastic wreckage surrounding her Polly Pocket LimoScene (TM).

"Where in the world did she get such an idea?" I wondered. A few times I had lost my cool and tapped her little buttocks, but philosophically I prefer discipline without any violence whatsoever. Any scarring she has would be mental…I admit to “using my words” at the highest volume too frequently. But isn’t that what most moms do when a child ignores the first three requests? Is she afraid I’m going to hit her? What if she says this around the neighbor’s kids?

I searched my mental database for comparative experiences, and found none. While my five older brothers and sisters made use of the rod, there were no battered children hanging in our family tree. I was a great aunt to a baker’s dozen of munchkins older than my own child, and they all seemed relatively normal.

"I’m over-reacting," I thought.

Having a child late in life is a blessing, but also a challenge. The only thing I regret about it is that I can’t consult my mother. She reared six kids, with varying degrees of success. How would she handle this?

As if she heard my silent musings, a memory surfaced. I was draped over the back door of our '62 Impala, with my head propped on my chin, sniffing at the fresh air afforded by the open window. Seatbelt laws loomed in the future, but for now, the bench seat meant freedom of movement.

I was sulking. Mom had let me play with her chiffon scarf, and at four, I considered it a great honor. I circled my wrist in the 70 mph wind, watching the scarf flap and swirl for a second before it stuck to my arm. Flap, swirl, stick. Flap, swirl stick. As my fingers grew numb, I lost my grip on the treasured fabric. The breeze snatched it away, and into the wake of our travels.

“Don’t worry about it, honey…I have more scarves,” Mom reassured me.

Still, I was disappointed. She had other scarves, but this was the one she wore when we went “visitin’”. She exchanged the housecoat for dress pants, and her apron for a colorful blouse. When the sparkling gold scarf came out to protect her pincurls, it signaled the start of a great adventure. How could she arrive in queenly glory, with the tangled hair of a peasant?

It was all my fault. I lay down on the seat, and took a tiny cereal-box surprise from my jacket pocket. “I’m Kimba!" I shouted. "The white lion is here to save you," I said, running the plastic figure up the grooves in the fabric. I released the the toy at the top, and it tumbled head over heels onto my belly. “Oh no, I fell down the hill. I broke my nose, and my ear…and now I’m dead,” I ended sadly.

A booming voice interrupted my requiem. “KimberlyAnnWeinberg, don’t you ever say anything like that again! Where did you get such an idea?” She twisted her matronly frame in the passenger’s seat towards me. Realizing she’d startled me, she continued in more soothing tones: “It isn’t nice to talk about dying—you are scaring us. Your dad and I would be very sad if you ever left.” The fear in her eyes turned to warmth as her shoulders softened. “Do you understand, sweetie?”

I didn’t understand, and while it was obvious she didn’t get me either, I nodded assent. I made a half-hearted attempt at redemption: “But Mommy, I was only pretending!” I claimed, before lapsing into chastised silence

I don’t know if she heard me that day, or if she ever really understood my need for fantasy. She had no way of knowing that 36 years later that conversation would come full circle, and I’d finally understand why she yelled at me.

I walked into the living room and scooped up her smiling, squiggling granddaughter in a giant hug and kiss.

“Hey Mom,” she gushed. “Watch this…. See? Aladdin is driving Polly’s car and Tinkerbelle is flying beside it.”

“I do see, baby girl…you have a great imagination!”

She answered with all the quiet confidence of her four years: “Yeah, you’re right!"

Thanks, Mommy.
© Copyright 2007 KimChi (kimchi at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1201268-Highways