“My mommy hits me.”
We stood in the middle of a busy DFW airport, I had just been making the dramatic juggle of car seats, toddlers, and luggage from the rental car terminal to the airplane terminal post hurricane evacuation. My shoulders hunched from an exhausting and anxiety filled week as I looked back in horror at the kind stranger standing behind us in line. “Your mommy what,” he asked, trying to hold back a laugh.
“My mommy hits me.” It was hilarious and endearing two days ago when she was attempting to convince Guncle Bry Bry not to leave with this statement but now with a total stranger I was at a loss to see the humor any longer.
It was one of those moments that as a mother you remember your own childish antics. Suddenly a room of glass jutting out from the core of a McDonalds in Burnet, Texas seemed as real as that day of my 14th summer. It was a last stop after a long family road trip, the baby Chris was somewhere around 2 or 3, Chase was 8 and I was 13. My mom and stepdad stayed back to wait for our food as I was supposed to take charge of the boys and find a table and chairs in the overcrowded sitting area.
As we entered the room Chris continuously walked into the glass walls, not necessarily on purpose. We made sure through our precise movements and conversation that everyone could assume something mentally wrong with this poor tiny soul. Oh did I say conversation? Well Chase was the only one speaking, as I had decided to take a vow of silence and speak only through sign language, to which Chase would respond with great sincerity in the tiny bit of sign language he could muster.
The neighboring tables would oooo and aawww in pity for these poor kids, but what a sign of strength we were for them, staying strong, together.
Neighboring tables would ask questions and Chase would kindly translate my responses to these onlooking patrons who were eager to hear our harrowing story.
Mom arrived with the food, unaware of the background story we had created for ourselves. “Which did you order Jess?”
Always the dedicated thespians Chase translated her question and I stuck to my role and offered in response the sign for Hamburger.
Meanwhile Chris had hit yet another glass wall driving mom’s irritation level from an even 5 to a high 7. The noise in the room softened, though I don’t think my mom noticed as she conducted physical struggle while crying out, “sit your butt in the seat!”
Returning to the matter at hand Mom once more asks what my order is and I respond with the sign for hamburger as Chase, pretending to watch my signing intently, translated what I was saying to her.
This is it, she was done, boiling point reached. It was like a scene from a Ren and Stimpy Cartoon as the fire seemed to burst from the top of her skull and her tongue lashed out like a venomous snake, “just talk Jessica, speak, use your words! I’ve had it up to here…”
The room fell silent, all eyes on mom as I bravely lifted my hands and once more signed for a hamburger…
And here I stand today, walking away from the ticket counter with a Baby K conducting her greatest impression of a wrecking ball. My arm and body are her crane as she screams “ouch mommy, ouch” while jostling her own torso to and fro, hitting the front of my leg and then forcing herself around into the back of my leg. My back is strained from this game, and at first glance it may appear as if I am slinging my child out of anger, rather than suffering through her mischievous splendor.
Lil A puts on the softest most pitiful voice she can muster as she explains to our new found friend, “my mother died long long ago, and she is my other mother,” pointing back at me, “and she hits me.”
I take in the karma in deep strides as Lil A licks the glass walls, takes pleasure in poking total strangers in the bottoms, and responds to simple questions like, “and what’s your name little girl,” with a strong and audible moan as her tongue hangs out of the side of mouth. Oh the joys of motherhood.