THE MAMA VAULT – #2 Mama Drove the Getaway
Once I had two little boys. They were undisturbed by spaghetti sauce and melting popsicles dripping off their chins. I can still see my dear friend Nat, a girl mama, shaking her head in disbelief when I didn’t wipe the drips off straightaway. Being a boy mama requires a specific finesse girl mamas can’t quite comprehend. It requires a particular type of “girding up”.
Those little boys of mine took long walks around the block carrying a five-gallon bucket to collect frogs out of water meters. Sometimes they put the small ones in their pockets. My boys and I touched those frogs, and the crickets we fed them, and eventually I didn’t think about the germs. One of my boys told me he would live with me forever, and the other always wanted me to be the princess when we played make believe. Never once did he ask me to kiss a frog. I might’ve done it though if he’d asked.
They rode their bikes over rickety ramps they built, and sometimes they crashed. Mostly I didn’t overreact. Most every night their bath water would be dark brown by the time they finished washing the dirt off—I can still feel the cool of them, as I pulled their clean damp heads to my cheek and held them there for a bit as I tucked them in. I would then sometimes sit on the floor in the hallway outside the room they shared just to eavesdrop on their sweet conversations.
Then, in a cruel twist of things, it changed.
They became teenagers. They needed deodorant. They quit telling me stuff. They became interested in things I knew nothing about. Then, just as I learned about that “thing”, they would leave it for a new interest. I think they wanted to have something all their own. They began pulling away from me–seeming to prefer most all other people to me. I wanted nothing more than to keep the conversation going with them, but it was a challenge.
Boy moms know what I mean. We have a club, in fact. Oh we don’t have meetings and stuff. We simply share a knowing—an understanding when we look in each other’s eyes. We get each other.
Like when my friend Lauri told me about the night she had an opening to grab on to a bit of relevancy in her son’s life. And if you think she passed up the chance, you are clearly not in the Sisterhood of Boy Moms.
Lauri is a card-carrying member. Her story, in fact, has cemented her lifetime membership in the club.
At age fifteen, Lauri’s oldest son and his buddies received the unfortunate news in the eleventh hour that their running-around girl-buddies would not be participating in the annual Sadie Hawkins Dance. Only a couple of months before, the boys had taken the same girls to the homecoming dance, and they were looking forward to the fun role reversal. Actually they were counting on it.
I’m well aware in 2018 the whole Sadie Hawkins thing is often considered less than politically correct. But in 1997, kids could still have some fun with it. Then, everything didn’t carry with it some hidden agenda.
So, the guys wanted to go, but the girls wouldn’t take them. That’s the long and short of it.
That night, the girls were party poopers.
So instead of going to the dance, the boys hung out at Lauri’s house, celebrating her son’s birthday and bemoaning their dance fate. Mama Lauri agreed with them it was quite rude of the girls to opt out just like that. In the discussion one thing lead to another, and finally it seemed the only thing to be done was to have one grand “papering” escapade at the girl’s expense. Lauri laid down the rules—the do’s and don’ts—and they seemed good to go.
The only problem was there was no driver—not a single boy had a license. So Lauri, seeing a sliver of an opening to make up for her waning relevancy in her son’s life, offered to drive.
Lauri, who claims not to have a competitive bone in her body, watched as her son, four of his friends and her pre-teen boy, piled in her minivan. Competitive or not, that night she was a mama bear bent on winning.
Never tangle with a mama whose son has been scorned.
Lauri stopped short of the target house and waited in the dark as the determined boys piled out with arms full of one-ply. They were the Van Goghs of the papering world that night—creating stunning masterpieces in the girl’s yard. Exhilarated, they piled back in the car, seemingly undetected.
But they weren’t finished, those boys. Once they arrived safely at home, they immediately wanted nothing more than to return to the scene of the crime to admire their handiwork.
But it all hinged on Lauri.
Now Lauri’s instincts were on point that February night. She figured after Round One she was sitting at about fifty percent relevancy with her boy. And it simply would not do. Her goal was a one hundred percent reconnect, and so she was all in. She began to think like a career “wrapper”, and she knew they couldn’t revisit the scene in the same vehicle.
So they ditched the Toyota van and loaded in the Mitsubishi. Though it could be seen in a court of law as premeditated, Lauri didn’t care. Game on.
But there was drama. In the middle of Round Two, the girls’ older brothers came out for a rumble. Lauri’s charges retreated quickly to her car, and a chase ensued.
But she had skill, that mama, the likes of which those high school boys had never seen. It wasn’t her first rodeo, and with a few expertly executed left-right maneuvers, she ditched the pursuers. Just to be sure, though, she whipped in the convenience store behind her house. Her boys scaled the fence to the safety of her backyard, and she drove away, imitating a more mature mother who would never engage in such childish pranks.
The greatest tool a boy mom has in her box of tricks is her ability to play it cool.
Surely her efforts gave her the desired one hundred percent relevancy rating. Surely to goodness.
Boys can be a tough sell, though. Her son would ask her to prove her coolness one last time.
There would be a final test in the trifecta.
One more time, the boys pleaded. Just take us back one more time.
I don’t know, she hesitated. I’m not sure it’s a good idea.
Don’t do it Mama, the little brother said.
But then, she looked at her fifteen-year-old and saw the sweet little five-year-old he once was, and she missed him. She didn’t tell me this, but boy moms know it.
All of us know it.
She probably thought about holding his damp, freshly shampooed head next to her face. She probably remembered him telling her he would live with her forever. All those things likely came flooding back and they are the reasons she said this.
She said okay.
They switched back to the minivan for The Big Finish. The Grand Finale. The Coup D’etat.
It went like this.
Lauri parked and idled.
The boys unloaded.
The older brothers were lying in wait for the surprise attack.
A foot chase ensued with boys putting boys in headlocks. With boys wrestling each other to the ground. Lauri and her youngest boy watched it all happen from their hiding place down the street.
And when the waters part for just a second, out stepped the mother of the house. Let’s call her Mary. Mary was devout and good and naïve to the ways of the papering world.
Everything quieted as she slowly made her way toward the van, squinting to see the driver as she walked closer.
And finally this.
Lauri is that you?
Their connection was PTO. Of course it was. The Parent Teacher Organization–where basically good parents partner with good teachers to raise good humans. Oh dear. God has a gigantic sense of humor, doesn’t he?
Oh, Hi Mary.
Beautiful Lauri. I can imagine her curly hair gently blowing in the breeze of the rolled-down car window—cool, collected and nonchalant, as though it was her usual way to spend a Friday night—parked there in the dark. On a street that wasn’t her own.
Lauri and her wily gang were caught in the act that night. Oddly enough it was likely the thing that tipped the scale in her favor–the thing that made her completely and wholly relevant in her boy’s life—even if for just one night. It was the best kind of fun. Joining in a little harmless mischief with your boy and his friends is a delightful thing. But getting caught with them in the midst of being fully alive will always score you major mama points. It will also cause your heart to nearly explode from the fullness of it all–the utter joy of it.
To this day, those boys—Dustin, Jason, Scott, Kenny, Stephen and little brother Taylor—still tell the story.
The story of when mama drove the getaway.