Thursday, November 17, 2011

Body Language

I would like to teach my kids a foreign language. Spanish and French are high on my list. First, however, I would like them to master my language. I mastered the language of my parents just as my parents mastered the language of their parents. I am talking about body language.

They're getting there, I tell you. My nostril flare usually stops them in their tracks and I know that Spencer can feel my laser eyes.

In my childhood I quickly learned that the fewer words my mother used the worse the situation was. It usually began with I thought of as 'angry cleaning'. The dishwasher would be loaded with a vengeance; the poor floor would be scrubbed abusively; the laundry was called dirty names and folded with clenched fingers and angry snaps of fabric. My brothers and I would listen at the vents waiting for the storm to pass. We knew during those moments it was best to stay clear.

We thought our poor mother had some pretty serious issues. After all, what mother could be angry over children trying to make an ocean in the bathroom? Would mom really be upset that we had invited 42 neighborhood children over to play hide-and-go-seek in our basement? Honestly, we were just trying to have a little fun and nobody found you when you hid by the water heater.

Yes, when our normally very chatty mother became quiet we knew it was going to get ugly. Mom's hands would begin flexing and she would smile while questioning us. That smile haunts me still today. Mom's beautiful brown eyes accompanied by a smile that did not match the sparks shooting out of her eyes. I'm telling you, Stephen King knows nothing of fear.

My dad's body language was more difficult to read. Dad has always been the quiet type. I have to wonder if an atom bomb is quiet before it detonates.

Clearly, Dad was a man lacking a sense of humor. I mean, who doesn't like a cat thrown on them while they nap on the couch? Seriously, I thought dad liked animals until that day. He catapulted that kitty across the room as the boom ripped from his mouth. I didn't hang around to see what the problem was - I ran up to the neighborhood park to tell my friends how my dad 'freaked out for no reason'

Apparently I have some of the same tell-tale signs of an impending explosion but I have a four strong-willed children. So this week in homeschool land we have been discussing Mt. St. Helens and the signs that she gives prior to an eruption.

First, scientists noticed a color change in the fumarole. I'm not making this up. Likewise, my children can also note my color change. I even have a birthmark between my eyebrows my husband calls my red light because it means stop. I am fair complected so when I go pink it's a good indicator of my discomfort, but when I go red in the face look out. Yet my children will forge ahead with questions or debates in spite of my crimson color.

The next phase for a volcano is steam vapors erupting. Easy enough to detect on a volcano, right? Maybe not so much on a mom. I think that my steam comes about in heavy breathing, sighing, and much eye rolling. My children, and husband, usually proceed with a little more trepidation but are still unwilling to give up the sale.

The final stage is, of course eruption. A volcano eruption involves monumental movement, fall out, and even changes in the weather. I think the eruption of Mt. St. Mama may be similar. There may be a shout, a scream, or sobbing. Drawers may be shut with more force than necessary. The end result is usually me on the floor somewhere in the house while the children gather around to survey the sight for scientific data.

"Is she okay?"

"Yes. But I think that we did something."

"Do you think she's mad I wanted to wash all the rocks out in the bathtub?"

"No. I think she just has too much on her mind. Like the dog being a different color."

"Mom, are you overwhelmed?"

I think I hear my mother laughing somewhere.


  1. I love this. I don't feel nearly as insane anymore. I just basically feel normal. hahaha

  2. Normal = insanity when it comes to motherhood. ;)