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Eccentric Wonder-Woman This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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     “Bye, Mom. See you when I get home!” I hurry to the front door, eager to escape being berated with the questions I hear every morning. Just like any other mom, Susan worries about me; I know she means well, but most of her concerns are unfounded. She is a small woman, standing only 5' 5" and weighing a mere 112 pounds.

She has a scrawny frame, but her twig-like arms hold a surprising amount of strength. Her brothers used to call her Four-Eyes because she wears glasses, and her eyesight is getting worse by the day. Practically deaf, she often has trouble comprehending what people say and sometimes responds unintelligently. Having grown up in England, my eccentric mother upholds her traditional English values and way of life. She speaks with constant intonation and a slightly Americanized, but easily distinguishable English accent.

“Do you have a sweatshirt, love?” My morning would not be complete without this question. I ignore her and virtually sprint out the door. I do not have a sweatshirt, but there is a good reason - I do not want one! My mother, however, has this delusional idea that I will catch a cold if I am without a sweatshirt. I jump in my car but don’t even have time to release the parking brake before I hear her.

“Wait!” she squeaks. Her wiry frame is bent under the weight of an array of sweatshirts, soccer warm-ups, fleece jackets, and waterproof ski coats. She staggers to my car, all the while ranting about how “nippy” the weather is.

“I don’t want you catching a cold in the middle of soccer season. That would be terribly irresponsible!”

“It’s, like, 80 degrees outside, Mom! I don’t need a jacket. Why do you insist on being such an idiot?” I start backing into the street but my crazy mom continues to bang on the window.

“I don’t want to hear your lip, young man. Now, open the window and take a jacket. Please, do it for your mother,” she pleads, laying on the guilt. I am never going to get to school at this rate, so I roll down the window, only to be met by a mouthful of fleece and polyester she unloads into the front seat.

“What happened to the sweatshirt, Mom?” I protest.

She smiles and pushes her hair behind her ear. “Have a nice day at school, love!”

My mother is a very passionate wo-man, which causes her to be overly enthusiastic. Once each trimester I announce that my mentor group has asked me to bring snacks for our Friday meeting.

“Well, thanks for all the notice,” she always says, despite the fact it is only Tuesday. Most families just pick up doughnuts or bagels on their way, but when my mother prepares mentor meeting snacks, every food group must be represented, at least twice.

So, when I leave the house Friday morning, I carry two large canvas bags in each hand, all holding containers packed full of scones, oatcakes, chopped veggies and fruit, cookies, cakes, and, of course, a full set of cutlery. Dishtowels and fancy white doilies line the containers, adding to the already impressive feast. The most amazing aspect is that everything is genuinely homemade! When most of the food comes home with me, Mom will ask, “Weren’t they hungry?” Time after time I will explain that she sends too much food - there are only 12 kids in the group.

“You send enough to feed a bloody army, Sue,” my father adds. “Just listen to what the boy says.” But some things never change.

Unfortunately, I have a history of bad allergies. From the morning sniffle to grass and pollen allergies, I am constantly blowing my nose. My mother knows I have allergies since I have dealt with them my whole life, but for some reason, every time I sneeze or blow my nose, she asks, “Are you getting sick?”

“No, Mom. It’s just my allergies!” I insist. “What compels you to ask every time I blow my flipping nose?” Occasionally I do think I might actually be sick, since something is going around school or my “allergies” have not gone away in three or four days, but my mother’s relentless presumption that I am sick pushes me into denial. By the time I finally agree to take medicine as a precaution, the sickness is beyond prevention. She gloats, adopting an “I told you so” attitude.

“I’ll just put your medicine in the bathroom, love,” she tells me, poking her head in my bedroom. “Don’t forget to take it before you go to bed!” By the time I enter the bathroom, my eyelids are usually drooping from fatigue, but they snap open at the sight of my bathroom sink, which is completely covered in tiny plastic medicine cups full of cough syrup, nighttime medicine, cold medicine, liquid vitamin supplements, and cod liver oil. How could I possibly forget to take all this medicine? I tip cupful after cupful of green, red, brown and orange liquids down my throat; my face scrunches up with every revolting flavor. The next morning, my bowl of cereal is surrounded by the same assortment.

Soccer lies at the heart of my family, especially now that my sisters are not around anymore. At every dinner we discuss either my soccer career, my dad’s refereeing, or what is happening in professional soccer. Being the woman she is, my mother insists on being heard.

“All the parents love having me on the sidelines because I always know what is going on,” she boasts. My dad and I roll our eyes and continue our conversation.

“I don’t know. I am getting frustrated with the way we are playing,” I say, pushing the food around on my plate.

“Yeah,” my dad replies. “You guys just haven’t molded well as a team this year.”

When my mother decides to butt in, her eyes bulge behind her glasses and she leans back in her chair.

“Well, I can see that some people just aren’t trying very hard!” she adds in a raised, passionate voice. “I get so frustrated watching that one boy walking back all the time! He loses the ball every time he tries to dribble! And some of the guys look like they don’t even want to be out there! They really need to start playing ball or you won’t even make the playoffs!” By this point she is in a frenzy, waving her arms, spraying saliva all over the table, and breathing hard. I look at my dad and see him sigh at her obvious comments.

“Why don’t you calm down, Mom,” I suggest.

“I am calm!” she shouts defensively, turning on me with a wide, intense stare. “I’m just telling you what I can see, even from the sidelines!”

My mother is notorious for babying me, which earns her a lot of grief from my old man since I am her youngest, and only son, and she is determined to take good care of me and raise me as a proper gentleman.

“Do you want some supper, love?” she will ask in a soothing voice.

“I would love some, Mom,” I reply. Five minutes later she enters my room carrying a tray stacked high with chopped fruit, ice cream, cookies, milk, water, and, of course, some cod liver oil and liquid vitamin supplement.

“Now, wait a minute,” I can hear my father yell from downstairs. “Why don’t I get my supper delivered on a silver platter?”

“Oh, quiet!” my mother replies. “You can make your own.”

Part of the reason my mother is so eccentric is because she loves me to death, and she often goes out of her way to let me know it. The day after the supper affair, I stayed late at school to finish a chemistry lab report. I’m trying to focus on the lab, but my thoughts lie in one place: my soccer game that night.

“Maybe we should talk about energy transfer in this paragraph,” I hear my partner Katie saying.

“Oh, gosh,” I say much too loudly, snapping out of a daze. “I’m vibrating.” Reaching into my pocket, I pull out my phone.

“Hello?” I answer, wondering why my mom is calling.

“Hello, love!” she is screaming, causing me to pull the phone away from my ear. “Are you working on your lab?”

“Yes, Mom. We’re almost done,” I reply, mouthing an apology to Katie.

“I didn’t really expect you to answer. Did you eat today?” she asks in a firm, but concerned voice. I can imagine her in the kitchen with the phone wedged between her shoulder and right cheek, breathing only through the left side of her mouth and chopping vegetables.

“Yes,” I reply, hoping this is her only question. “It was pasta day.”

“Did you pack enough warm clothes?” I can see her switching the phone to her other shoulder, scowling at the thought of me catching a cold.

“I have to go finish my chemistry lab,” I say.

“Okay,” she says.“Say hello to Katie for me! Have you been hydrating?”

“Yes, Mom! And why were you calling in the first place?”

“Oh, well, I just wanted to say that I love you and to wish you good luck in your game.”

“Thanks, Mom. I love you, too.” As I hang up, her loving words replay in my head.

My mother might be eccentric, but she remains one of the most extraordinary and caring women in the world. She demonstrates her caring, unselfish nature every day. She is a wonder-woman.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the May 2006 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.






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pageturner This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 1, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I know what you mean.Many times my mom or dad tells me to turn on a light when I'm reading even if I say I'm fine or to eat something. But my parents are great, especially my mom. No one loves you like your parents.

 

 
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