Mom, You’re Not That Bad

Z and I have had this running joke for a long time. It goes like this. Somebody asks me to do something that’s outside of my narrow realm of expertise, I do it, bomb, and say, “Well, I guess I’m never going to launch a career in ….”

I tell Z all about the experience on the drive home, pouring on the self-deprecation. He cracks up. I crack up. We have a snack and do our respective homework.

The first time this happened was with modeling. I was chosen to participate in the school modeling shoot. So what if I’m over 30 and overweight? A modeling career could be in my future, right? I do the shoot only to find out I’m not photogenic at all. Oh, well. Z and I laughed and said maybe modeling isn’t for me, but surely I can do something else.

Then I had that little keynote experience opportunity. Never keynoted anything, but I love the Chesapeake Reading Council, so I gave it a try. I left the event vowing to attend Toastmasters and accepting the fact that I will not be the next Zig Ziglar or Les Brown, but I would at least learn to try to string two sentences together.

People who heard me on Cathy Lewis’ HearSay will attest to the fact that I did not go anywhere near Toastmasters. After telling Z all about my faux pas, from not being about to remember my name or what I do at the university to not doing a great job of enunciating, Z felt it was time to get serious. (Oddly, this scene took place in the middle of a Gamestop.)

Z: Geesh. Mom, you’re not that bad. You didn’t say anything embarrassing did you?

K: Silence.

Z: Did you? (He has urgency and fear in his voice and a pleading look on his face because deep down he knows I’ve been known to say embarrassing things from time to time.)

It’s Z’s turn at the register, but he’s not moving until I answer.

K: No. I don’t think so.

Z: Good. Then it’s all right.

I listen as this twelve-year-old tells the clerk he needs to exchange something that doesn’t work and I think about how he has always helped me this way. When he was almost six, I stressed out about my dissertation defense, telling everyone who would listen about how hard the defense would be and he simply said, “Mom, you’ve been working on this forever, you ought to know it by now.” He had been there, (in the library, in my presentations, sometimes, even, in my classes) so I knew he was right then and at that moment.