When I was growing up in Georgia, we did not understand or know as much about nutrition as we do today. There was very little-known connection between what we ate and how it affected our bodies.
Sugar was not the evil we think that it is today. At that time, kids were usually allowed to eat as many treats as we wanted, as long as you brushed your teeth after eating. That is what my dentist would say.
However, I vividly remember eating to an extreme one day and made my mother lose her mind. That was a long day! My mother was a walking “lie detector” or maybe it was just because I was a kid.
I was at home alone and proceeded to eat any and everything that I could get my hands on that was sweet and/or junk food. I do not mean a few cookies and milk. I am talking an epic scale of sweets and junk food. I had snack cakes, cookies, ice cream, chocolate and other stuff sweet that I cannot recall. In brief, it was a diabetic coma waiting to happen.
Then, my mom came home from work and made me dinner. I could not eat it as I was full of all the sweet snacks I had been eating before she got home. I tried to play it off as no big deal. See, at that time, I was a “latch key” kid.
For those of you that are not familiar with the term, a latch key kid, is a kid that comes home from school with no adult at home. We wore a string around our necks with our house key. A group of us would walk home from school together then go to our separate houses. We would then get a snack, and all meet outside to play until our folks got home from work. It was only about an hour and a half until my folks got home from work. Unfortunately, on this day, it was ample time for me to get myself in trouble and I was good at that!
Back to the story. My mom asks me why I am not hungry. I do the normal kid thing and mumble some lame excuses in hopes that this will pacify her. Apparently, my excuses were lame and noticeably ineffective.
However, my mom was a private investigator when I was young. (She was not really a private investigator. It just felt like it at the time.)
My answers to her questions about dinner proved to her that I was not telling her “all of the truth.” My mom called this “lying.” I called this “withholding unnecessary information.” I unfortunately lost this battle. My mother later explained that withholding the truth is still lying! Can’t a kid get a break? How is keeping your mouth shut lying?
Being that I was of single digit in age, I did not hide my tracks very well. After mom let me leave the table from dinner that I did not touch, she began going through the food cabinets. I had not thought about PI Mom going into the cabinets.
I should have copied my God parent, Craig, and hid the wrappers under the couch.
Well, this did not bode well for me. I had neglected to cover my tracks after ravaging the sweets and snacks. I left cookie containers open, I left Little Debbie snack cake wrappers on the counter and there were multiple candy wrappers in the trash. She found them all! Way to go, Magnum PI.
From that point forward, my mom’s breathing changed, her hair took on an electrical, fly away look and red lasers came out of her eyes that could burn holes in solid steel. I may have even seen black wings sprout out of her back, but panic makes one not recall so well. I knew then that I was up shit creek, without a paddle and a hole in the boat. I felt my short, little life flash before my small, scared shitless blue eyes. I would have cried, but I was too scared, and tears would not come out. I had to use all my wits just to keep breathing and trying to slow down the thud, thud, thud of my heart beating in my brain. I was waiting for the ass whippin’ of a life time.
Then, she out foxed me. She did not yell, scream, holler or start whoppin’ my butt. It was significantly worse. SHE GOT QUIET. My brain said RUN! NOW! FAST!
My body was not able to cooperate. It was as if I were a statue. I was too busy trying to breath and not throw up on myself. Besides, in the south, if you try to run from punishment, it can be ten times worse for you and leave way more bodily scars.
There was a time interval that I think I “blacked out” in fear. Pissing Southern women off can do this to a person.
The next thing I can remember is my mother calling me back to the table. I was prepared to eat the dinner she cooked for me as well as nails, crumbled glass, bees, asbestos or whatever she had come up with as punishment.
For the second time that day, my mother shocked me again. I was expecting a litany of words related to what an ungrateful child I was being and some sort of lecture about eating too much junk food. Nope.
My mom was calm, and her voice was even toned. I thought, this is it, she is going to put me up for adoption. I was looking around to see if she had packed my suitcase. That would have been the easy way out!
I walked into the dining room and the table is covered in every single, last sweet thing in the entire house. (That I had not yet eaten)
At that time, my mom, dad and I all had our own choice sweets. Mom got ALL of them out and arranged them across the entire table. She gently placed me on a chair at the head of the table.
She then said,” start eating.” I looked at her and said, “what? Have you lost your mind?” (This was of course only in my head and rhetorical)
She said, “you wanted all these sweet foods a while ago, so why not now?” I would have answered her, but my tongue failed to respond, as I think it fell out onto the floor. My brain was screaming, but I was having an out of body experience trying to cope with this person that looked like my mom but was not her. She decided she would help me get started eating and opened a few snack cakes for me.
Then a funny thing happened. I could not eat a single bite! I put a snack cake in my mouth and could not swallow. This could be due to the fact that I was crying and trying to say I was sorry all at the same time. The snack cake felt and tasted like fresh concrete. Funny, two hours ago the snack cakes went down as smooth as silk. I had already eaten several with no problem. Hmmm.
After a few very long minutes that seemed like hours, mom let me off the hook and I did not have to eat anymore.
There was a lot more crying and apologizing. This was only from me, though.
For those of you that think someone should have called DFACS, stand down.
My mom then explained to me why she did what she did, and I got to say my peace. I had learned my lesson. Sorta. Never mess with a Southern woman taking psychology classes.
By the way, my mom was taking college psychology classes at that time. She was studying “reverse psychology”. I am pretty sure she got an A in the class! If she did not get an A, I was going to invite her professor over for “dinner.” I would like to have known what the professor would say about “my lesson.” He probably would have gotten the “good” chocolate, though.
My mom did not finish her degree for unknown reasons. However, have you ever heard someone say,” they know just enough to be dangerous.” This was my mother. She had become a mini-me for Sigmund Freud! Sigmund may have been able to learn a few things from my mother.
One final straw that broke the camel’s back. That day when my dad got home from work, he got a detailed update of my behavior from my mom. The lasers in her eyes had subsided, but the tone of her voice had taken on a hushed, angry sound. I was familiar with this voice. She always talked like this when explaining to my dad what I had done to get myself in trouble!
That was another 30 minutes of my dad lecturing me. It was mostly for show for my mom. You know, “if mama ain’t happy, then ain’t nobody happy at home.” My folks were always a believer in the “united front” in parenting. That means if dad does not yell at you for what mom said you did wrong, he gets yelled at by mom. I do not know how that constitutes “united parenting”, but hey, I was a kid.
Later that night through my puffy, swollen, tear-soaked eyes, I saw my dad in the kitchen cabinets. He was sneaking Fig Newton’s from the cabinet and trying to eat them in the kitchen without me seeing him.
Maybe I should have been a private investigator specializing in “sweet snatching?”
Not too many days later…
I happen to be a bit of a slow learner, at times. Apparently, I did not fully understand the lesson my mom was trying to teach me the first time. In a relatively short amount of time, I had to have a second “dinner” to drive home the point. It is crazy what sweets, sugar and treats will do to a kid.
My mother went through the same process as before. I proceeded to cry, whine, snivel and grovel, as I had before. They say history repeats itself, but I had no idea it meant doing this whole thing all over again!
The result was the same, but this time “it stuck with me.” (I learned to hide out at the mall and eat junk there!)
To this day, my mom still tells this story and laughs her ass off. I think she should have gotten an honorary degree in reverse psychology, but whatever.
It just goes to show you, do not piss off a Southern woman because she will always get cha’. Maybe she won’t get ya today, but you had better keep one eye open when you are sleeping. She may also be taking classes in reverse psychology, so look out!
Just know, the clock will be ticking, and Southern women have long memories.