Hey, Pop Tart This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

My mom has been acting strange lately. I'm beginning to think that she's on drugs. She takes at least 13 pills every morning and I'm wondering how long she thinks I'm believing her line of "Oh, these? They're vitamins." Uh huh, all right.

I think what first clued me into her weird behavior were the staring sessions. Several times a day, she stares at me for long periods of time. If a stranger gave me the same look, I'd run and scream for help.

The other night I was ordering dinner at a fancy restaurant.

"Yes, I'd like the chicken parm and a side of Caesar salad, light on the croutons," I requested. Then it was my mom's turn. The waitress stood there a long time while my mom stared at me. "Good gosh, Mom, I haven't even started eating, I can't have lettuce in my teeth already. Hey, Mom, who-hoo." And then she snapped out of it like it had never happened.

She also has a new obsession with the video camera. It has been plastered to her face at orchestra concerts, dances, softball games, college campus tours and family vacations. Yesterday she taped me in the kit-chen making a ham sandwich while talking on the phone. Then she followed me outside and continued to tape as I mowed the lawn, back and forth, back and forth across the grass. Yup, she's freaking me out.

Not to mention how she makes a scene when, on vacation, she has me pose next to every sign to document the trip: "Welcome to the Lilydale Campground" or "Entrance to Hershey Park" or "Don't feed the ducks," "Must be this tall to ride" or "Restrooms" with an arrow. And then I stand there while she says, "Wave to the camera. Look how much fun we're having." This is where I wave my half-second, could-have-been-confused-with-me-scratching-an-itch, get-me-the-heck-outta-here wave, accompanied with a plastered "I've having the time of my life" smile even though this is the sixteenth time I have waited in line for Goofey's Barnstormer Roller Coaster with her taping every single moment.

She shows my baby pictures to anyone who will look, and even those who don't want to. At the grocery store, the guy retrieving carts in the parking lot agreed that I looked adorable when I was three in the bathtub with suds on my head. And the ice-cream man smiled politely while she showed him my school pictures from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The neighborhood kids miss their snow cones now that he doesn't come around anymore.

She offered to pack my lunch yesterday, and even though I said no, she did it anyway. Complete with a note, which read,

Hey, Pop Tart,

I hope you are having a wonderful day at school. Enjoy the homemade brownies. They are yummy! I can't wait till you get home.

Love, Mom

And don't forget the parade of XOXO's that bordered the entire note. My lunch table got a kick out of that one. Man, that was embarrassing even in third grade.

I'm convinced, she's overdosing.

Every holiday has a certain theme now; every gift she gives is centered around college. My Easter basket was filled with books - no candy, no chocolate rabbit with ears to bite off, no jellybeans. I got ripped off, man. Instead I got 101 Things a College Girl Should Know; The College Survival Guide; What to do When You Get to College; and don't forget Chicken Soup for the College Soul. Yup, my sister was across the room chomping on those pink marshmallow bunnies while I read about how to get along with my new roommate. Christmas and my birthday were more of the same, except she even roped my family into the plot; my aunt got me an informational video on how to avoid date rape. Thanks, Aunty Lynn, it's the gift that keeps on


My mom cuts out every newspaper article that has to do with statistics of college students: how many drop out, how many get pregnant, how many drink and end up in the hospital, how many stop showering, how many get stupid, how many get fat. Yup, she piles them next to my plate at dinner, so I have to look at them before reaching for the spaghetti. Then she discusses what she's learned talking to people about the dangers of college. "Karen told me that Diane's sister in Oklahoma's mother, Tracey, who lives in Kansas's friend from bingo's daughter named Cassidy got the crabs from the showers at college. Do you know what the crabs are?" Then she moves into explicit detail while I attempt to digest my pasta and garlic bread. And then it's "Eat up, aren't you hungry? You can't have eating habits like this at college. They'll commit you to an anorexic ward."

"Not before they commit you to a mental institution," I mutter.

Mom's peculiar behavior worsens every day. Yesterday I caught her labeling my underwear. And with each new act of her insanity, I try to convince myself that there might be hope if we start treatment soon.

Actually I know there is hope for her the day I get on the plane to leave for college, the day that she says good-bye to me and makes me wave to her camera. There's hope when she tells me how much she misses me and asks if I'm getting fat.

There is still hope when she tells me all the news going on at home, and puts our cat, Fat Louie, up real close to the phone so I can hear him meow. There's hope when she starts using my room as a storage room, and when she begs me to come home for Thanksgiving. There's even hope when I tell her I haven't caught the crabs and my roommate isn't an ex-convict. And finally, there's hope when she sends homemade brownies and calls me every day.

Rachel is a college freshman this fall.

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

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
yesterday at 6:00 am
i love this so much!
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Jan. 17, 2010 at 1:10 pm
love this!
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