I used to tell her that if someone ever tried to lure her into a car, don’t go unless they promised she’d get her own room with cable. It’s still a family joke, because it left such an impact. It was my flippant way of saying both “watch out for strangers” and “you’ve got a pretty good life at home” all in one compact little snipe. Consequently, she never got kidnapped and never ran away from home. Double points, anyone?
With my outwardly relaxed attitude toward parenting, it may be surprising to some to learn that I was a fairly traditional, strict, discipled parent who just happened to have a smart mouth and an unorthodox lifestyle. It worked for us with this one phrase: “This is your mother speaking”. That was my attention-getter, my warning shot, so to speak. It meant: I’m not joking. I mean business. You have to listen. This is serious. And I am the boss of you – all in 5 little words. The were the best 5 words I’ve ever written.
Alexis has a smart mouth. I don’t wonder why. I take full responsibility. Her formative years were also the years I worked in comedy clubs telling jokes to drunks. You develop a certain delivery when you want to do your time, make an audience laugh and get the hell off before the drunk chick at the front table projectile vomits her 6th shot of Jaegermeister on your new shoes. So, I secretly took pride in her sarcastic comments and pointed barbs when she was young. It showed me she was smart, quick thinking and funny. Even if she was a smart aleck, she was like me. Good news, bad news scenario there. Bad news: Oh-oh, this could be trouble. I knew what I was like as a teenager and I was a pain in the butt. Good news: How can anyone not be thrilled to have a mini-me.
I was right about the teenage years. Although it was really only 1 year of the “Evil Alexis” as we lovingly called her, it seemed like an eternity. I must have said, “THIS IS YOUR MOTHER SPEAKING” at least 500 times that year. Unfortunately, she had perfected my mini-me so spot-on by then that she could deflect it with one “WHATEVER”. Suddenly, I couldn’t believe that my Dad was never tempted to sneak into my room at night and hold a pillow over my face. Or maybe Mom just convinced him that food sucks in prison. Either way, I could see karma, full circle, and “you get what you put out there” all at once.
And then one day, she came out of her room, wearing a tee shirt that wasn’t oversized or black and announced: “I’ve realized that when I don’t listen to you, you guys take stuff away from me and I don’t like that. So, I’m going to stop. OK? That’s all”. And she turned and when back to her room. We thought it was a trick at first, but it wasn’t. She dumped Evil Alexis, only bringing her back for rare moments to torment us for her own occasional amusement. And when she was adequately amused she’d just say, “That was the Evil Alexis”.
Why that makes me proud is complicated. It’s funny, insightful, profound, tastefully disrespectful and very controlling all at once. And to me, the intelligence to be able to do all that is astonishing. How did she get so smart? I hope it had something to do with me. I want to take some credit because THIS IS HER MOTHER SPEAKING.
On this very special day, Happy Birthday, Ra. You make me proud. I’m so thankful to have you. Even the year of The Evil Alexis was worth every second to have you turn out as beautiful, smart and loving as you are. You’re no longer a mini-me, you are a complete YOU. And I wrote this BEFORE you came up with the amazing plan for your life, so I’m more impressed with you now. I love you. TIYMS. XOXOXO