We had just passed a road construction site on the small two-lane state highway on the way from our hotel to my Dad’s house. The new road cuts and construction revealed bright red dirt— really red dirt, even by the standards of the Piedmont Plateau in Georgia.
From the back seat my daughter asked, “Mom, what kinds of worms do they have here in Georgia?”
“The same species that we have in Wisconsin, why?” I answered.
There was a thoughtful silence, then “But they poop out red dirt?”
It is truly a miracle that my husband managed to keep the rental car on the road.
Over the years, my daughter and I have engaged in several entertaining conversations about school and homework. However, a conversation took place this week that will be told around the dinner table for years to come. It went something like this:
My daughter: Now, I need to color the state flag.
Me: Wow, the flag will be difficult to draw. It has the state seal on it.
My daughter (coming to my chair with a copy of the state flag): No Mom. That’s a badger, not a seal. Wisconsin doesn’t have any seals.
She was so earnest. She was so polite, but there was just this little edge of “I can’t believe my mom doesn’t know the difference between a seal and a badger” in her voice. Just a touch of patronage.
She was right of course, the animal depicted on the state flag is a badger, and Wisconsin doesn’t have any seals.
When I was a little girl, my parents didn’t have an abundance of money. I was very fortunate: I had a warm home, plenty of clothes on my back, and I never went hungry (unless I refused to eat that which was put before me—and not often even then). However, we lived on a budget administered by Mom. Mom was a tough CFO. Once a week my dad would bring home his paycheck. Mom would take it too the bank, deposit it and keep out just enough cash for that week’s expenses. She would buy groceries and give Dad his “running money” for the week. Mom bought groceries once a week. Period. If we ran out of something before the end of the week, we ran out of something. There were no second, third, fourth trips to the grocery store.
My Dad was a pressman at the Atlanta Newspapers. He worked the graveyard shift for more than 30 years. We would eat dinner and around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m., Dad would head off to work. He would come home at 3:00 a.m. or so the next morning. He slept during the day, and when he was up before dinner, he could usually be found in his machine shop, working to add to the family coffers. He basically had two jobs.
This weekend I met a delightful lady named Nancy, and she told me a great story.
When she was seven or eight years old, bobby socks were all the rage, and Nancy desperately wanted a pair. However, her parents refused to acquiesce to the trend of the time and buy her any. Instead, Nancy had to wear ugly brown full-length stockings.
It was one of those days when I was doing a lot of snipping at my daughter, and she was doing a lot of not doing as I asked. Everything was becoming a negotiation, and nothing was done without a lot of whine. Pretty soon we were going to need to break out the cheese and crackers.
Finally out of complete and total frustration, I snapped at her: “Can’t you do at least one thing without whining?”