Of course, all of our mothers are saints: wise dispensers of comfort and advice, doers of good deeds, veritable fountains of kindness and love, the epitome of beauty. If that's the case, why the saying: 'You're turning into your mother'? It is usually uttered by husbands – we all know the old joke about how sons-in-law and wive's mothers supposedly get along, right? Or, a middle-aged woman might, aghast at her own proclivities, mutter to herself: “I am NOT turning into my mother!”
This remark is generally made – by a spouse or to oneself, when less-favorable traits, such as nagging, nit-picking and/or over-controlling manifest. Somehow, our first teacher, our most adoring fan, our paragon of virtue turns into some malevolent maven as soon as we do something unsuitable. Or, after a collection of unsuitables. After all: wouldn't it be a great thing to turn into one's mother, if indeed that woman were made of nothing but goodness and light?
I have a lot of similarities to my mother, as recently pointed out by my brother. I've chosen to live in a land where I don't speak the language (fluently) - a different country than my children, just like she did. However, I differ from her in that I have a great relationship with my children and visit them and their families every year. In between visits, we have email, text message, video chat and package sending. My mother refused to board a plane to come see us, and eventually even refused any communication with us.
To be perfectly fair to her: there was no email, texting or video chat in her time.
I'm one of those ladies who assiduously avoided any comparison to her mother. She liked classical music; I favored punk. She went to the theater, I caused theater with my antics. Her ideal Sunday consisted of taking a long bath and reading the day away; my Sundays consisted of resting up for another start to the overnight shift in the factory. Her ideal meal consisted of exotic foods; heavens help me if I eat exotic foods!
See, I'm not my mother at all!
Well, I have a fondness for the Brandenburg Concertos, and anything else by Bach, Brahms, Berlioz, Beethoven, Mozart and the like. In fact, these days, I prefer them to Adam Ant and Ian Dury. And I can't say I've never visited the theater; in fact, I've done some theater acting – and quite liked it. AHA! The Sunday Bath! I CAN'T take a bath because I have no bathtub; only a shower! I'm NOT my mother! But, I do enjoy reading the day away.
One particular annoyance for my mother was in fact my constant reading. “You always have your nose in a book!” She would either complain, rage or otherwise fume, depending on her mood. Truly: books were my great escape. I had no problem running away from life into a good story. I could be seen eating, cooking, walking or just lounging around with my nose in my book. Sometimes she would just grumble at me. Other times she would get so angry, I knew to put the book away before something terrible happened to it, or me. One time of note, while we were riding a bus, she smacked the book out of my hands. It went flying out the window.
I hope it did not hit some unsuspecting person on the sidewalk.
These days, I look around at all the young people in China, focused on their phones: in my classes, on buses, crossing the street... it's a blue miracle that no one gets hit. I don't mean by me, smacking people as my mother did me, but by a car, a scooter or the like.
The other day, I was running errands: out all day! In the course of my travels I couldn't help but notice all of those people with their eyes on their phones as they ambled about, not watching where they were going. The phenomenon forced its way into my attention because two or three times, I narrowly averted a collision with a pedestrian with eyes only for their phone, and once, I nearly got hit by a driver who was focused on his phone rather than all of the people in the crosswalk, under the supposed protection of zebra stripes and a green light.
I wanted to smack the phone out of his hand. Out of all their hands! “For pity's sake! Watch where you're going! Stop staring at your phone! There's nothing that important that you can't walk a few steps without consulting it!” I muttered.
It didn't hit me at first – pardon the pun, how much I sounded like my mother. Really: all you have to do is substitute 'phone' for 'book' and voila: Mama, resurrected!
The deep, dark confession: I've been wanting to smack phones out of people's hands for a long time, now. Especially in my classroom. It's never been a concretely formed idea, just a vague desire, and I'd probably only have to do it once, to create a shock effect.
Or to get fired.
That's it! I need a long, hot shower. While I'm in there, thinking about my wicked need to smack people for reading their phones, I'll have some nice, classical music playing. After that, I'll cook a fancy dinner and enjoy The Original Production of Cats – the musical. I have it on disk.
See? I... AM... NOT!!! MY... MOTHER!!!