I learned about the Eva/Ave and Virgin/Whore dichotomies in my first college class. These oppositions actually fail to plague most adult women I know but the super mom/disaster mom problem seems more vexing. Yesterday fell on the super mom end. Despite a failure to acquire any child care it included an efficient run with fabulous female friends, smooth transfer of sick daughter from husband, acuqring of plane reservations for said husband to join me in Rome, completion of three letters of recommendation, entertaining of child with delicious sushi lunch, practicing with gemelli, reading of 17th century pamphlets that have languished on hard drive for two years, making train cake for Eli’s b-day and cookies for book group, buying birthday present and sending husband to Bodos for nutritious bagel dinner for all.
That by the time I arrived at the trailer this morning I was soaked to the skin by the incoming monsoon and my purple tights had already ripped should have suggested that the brilliant plan for Eli to join me and my women and music students for a discussion of Eminem and Tori Amos’s discrepant versions of Bonnie and Clyde might not comprise the set up for mother of the year. Since teaching prevented either Manuel or I from going to the Thanksgiving lunch at the public school, we have failed to plan an elaborate birthday party for Eli, and Rebecca’s hair is so dirty it features it’s own ecology, the reasons for not being mother of the year already seemed impressive.
The birthday boy looked incredibly cute tromping into to class in his fireman rain coat. Though we were done with the specifics of the various “I used to love her but then I had to kill her songs” He must have picked up the vibe of violence and immediately started prancing around with a six foot umbrella saying “hut to fwee fo hut to frwee of….” Then came a long discourse on power rangers and motorcycles while the students attempted to discuss their final papers and a little bit of a fit because he wanted to go to Daddy’s work. He’s in one of those phases where despite the fact that Daddy neglected to say Happy Birth Day, Daddy is still the favorite. His next act of rebellion involved a full on tantrum because I rudely refused to allow him to turn off the switch that turned off all the lights in the basement. This culminated in me carrying him under one arm with his legs kicking, and the two bags of toys and snack Manuel had delivered with him on the other arm, up the stairs screaming through the library. The whole escapade likely sent my teaching evaluations for a serious nose dive and served as very effective birth control for the students. Manuel I'm sure got sensitive new age guy points for walking around campus with "miniwell" while I'm sure I confirmed the patriarchy's worst fears about female professors and their unruly tendency to reproduce.
Back in my office during office hours he managed to send an email to a colleague and empty out a book shelf while I helped students with papers. But his real coup came while I was engaged in a “feel my pain” conversation with a co-conspirator on the my cell phone and Eli was on the office phone telling the “train master” how to “dwive the twain to the twaila” To my glee this involved ten minutes of turn right, go up the hill, look at the ecscavator, go down the hill, look at the construction site, stop for a snack…… Eventually I head someone saying through the phone “Is Bonnie Gordon there” Yup the genius little three year old had dialed 3333 which got him the parent help line. The poor woman had done some research to find out who the hell I was and was trying desperately to get off the phone with my son.
The birthday boy finally cooperated by taking a long enough nap for Rebecca and Jonathan to do a stunning job of decorating the train cake It involves multiple gummy bear families, twizzler train tracks, and a special birthday statue of some sort. It’s shockingly minimalist for them and for once does not involve more sprinkle than cake. He had previously promised to be potty trained by the age of 3 but so far no luck.