Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: Freaky Everyday
By julie wood
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“Want to watch a movie, Cassie? I’ve got <I>Freaky Friday!” </I>
“Love to, Mom, but not right now. I’ve got tons of homework to do today!”
“Do you need any help? Can I type for you?”
“Uh, not this time, Mom. It’s pre-calculus.... Wait a minute. Mom, did you brush your hair this morning?”
“I…I dunno. I think I forgot.” I hang my head, feeling the heat creep up my cheeks. I can hear my daughter sighing, and I catch her eye-roll through the corners of my own averted eyes.
She’s smacking down her pencil against her open binder. “Okay, Mom. Go get your doggie-brush from the bathroom and bring it over here to me.” I drag my feet across the paper-littered carpet, inching my way into the bathroom. How come she suddenly has time to do <I>this?</I> I’m wondering.
“Mom, if you’d remember to brush it every morning, it wouldn’t get so tangled.... Gross, what on earth is <I>this? Peanut</I> butter? Think I’ll have to cut this part out! Hang a sec while I get the scissors.... What’re you grinning about?”
“I like the way it feels when you pull my hair tight like that behind my ears. It’s sort of tingly.... Would you do that again, please?”
“Mo-om! Really… Oh, man, you’ve got a big hole in your shirt right here, and stains all down the front, and the kitty decal is peeling off.... You really need to ask Dad to take you clothes shopping again.”
“Oh, no! I hate shopping for new clothes, they feel all scratchy and slimy and the lights in those stores are too bright and hurt my eyes. But I’ll go if we can stop at the bookstore too—and maybe get fudge ripple ice cream afterwards?”
“Oh, Mom, you know all that sugar’s not good for you at your age.... There, I’m done. Would you please go tell Dad--”
“No shopping today, please!”
Another eye-roll and heavy sigh. “—that I need him to come help me with this pre-cal?”
I’m bounding off to the room Brendan uses for his home office. “Brendan, Cassie needs help with her math right now… Okay if I go to the nursing home? I had no time yesterday to finish reading Wally <I>The Three Little Pigs,</I> and that one’s his favorite!”
He frowns and shakes his head. “Maggie, your daughter is home from school today. She’s more important than Wally.”
“But she’s busy, Brendan. She doesn’t need….” Defeated, I sink into the chair my husband vacates as he goes to help our daughter. I press fingers to my temples, aching for the world where my special friends always have time to do the simple things I love. I’m not cut out to be a mother, I think sadly. In our house it’s not Freaky Friday but Freaky <I>Every</I>day—for no kind of magic charm will break our role reversal. Or stop my daughter from slipping past me to the world beyond, leaving me locked within my lifelong childhood. Or straighten out the quirky whorls of my differently-wired brain....
“Maggie, would you proofread this e-mail for me?” Brendan’s voice sounds gentler now as it slices into my musings.
I’m smiling once again as I scan the unconventional order of his letters. “What does ‘selteldwn’ mean? Is that a computer term?”
“No.” Brendan flushes slightly pink. “That’s supposed to be ‘settled down’.”
It takes me only seconds to click and reverse letters till the screen is filled with readable print. My husband rewards me with a hug. And minutes later Cassie comes drifting into his office: “Mom, how do you spell ‘hypothetical’?”
“Thanks, Mom!” My spirit soars higher as she catches me in a second squeeze. “You mind making me some vocabulary flash cards? I know it’s boring, but...”
“No, Cassie, I <I>like</I> making flash cards! It’s fun, just like sorting envelopes!”
I can see them exchange glances, my baffled pair of loved ones, as I print out <I>peripatetic</I> on the top index card. I’m shivering with delight, but I notice their grins are stretched almost as wide as mine. “She’s something else, isn’t she, Dad?”
“You’re right, Cassie. There’s no one quite like your mom!”
Their words wrap me up inside another giant hug, more comforting than any magic charm. For the first time this Friday, the thought of Freaky<I> Every</I>day doesn’t feel so lonely.
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