So, I was speaking to my mother on the phone the other day when I apparently overstepped our mother-son boundaries. This isn’t exactly shocking. When I was growing up, this happened all the time. Basically, anytime I had an opinion other than my mother’s, I was overstepping the boundaries. If I wanted pancakes when she wanted Cheerios, I was overstepping my bounds. If I wanted to wear pants when she wanted me to wear shorts, again, I was overstepping my bounds. And, of course, if I accidentally put out a personal ad on her behalf in the local newspaper, you guessed it, I was overstepping my bounds—even if that ad did end up resulting in her fourth marriage.
I thought what I was telling her was relatively tame in nature, but before I realized what had happened, my mother was using her stern voice and calling me by my government name. First of all, I didn’t even know that she knew my full name. I certainly hadn’t shared it with her. Second of all, with all the recent wiretapping going on, her use of my name aloud meant that the police, the FBI, and worse, the student loan folks, could trace my whereabouts. Because of this, I immediately relocated from my living room to my bedroom just to be safe. I hadn’t cleaned up in a while, so I was sure that no one would find me in there.
As I noted, I’m no stranger to my mother dramatically clutching her pearls and fainting in the middle of a mall or thrift store based on something I’d said or done over the years. According to her, I’ve never had full control over my mouth, so I’ve always said whatever came to my mind regardless of how many times she tazed me as a toddler, put me in the closet, and threatened to withhold dinner. Allegedly, even as a baby I had to have the last word. What can I say? I was born this way.
In any case, her reaction caught me so off guard that I had to ask her what it was that I had said. Tuna? No, it couldn’t be tuna. Strawberries? Possibly, but what was so offensive about them? Before diving into full blown apology mode, I demanded to know for what I was being reprimanded. I know my rights. I’m innocent until proven guilty. Without a hint of humor, my mother responded in a way that made my jaw drop and bounce off the coffee table before landing in one of my potted plants.
Lately I’ve been thinking about getting a puppy. Granted, I don’t have the time, patience, or space for one, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting a little furry friend of my own. Don’t judge me. Maybe it’s because I see so many of my neighbors with dogs. I mean, you can’t take two steps forward without stepping in something that you would have rather avoided, especially when you’re not wearing any shoes.
Anyway, my mother and I were talking about the best way to housebreak a puppy, and of all the words she could have been bothered by, I’d gotten her dander up because I’d used the word pee-pee.
“I didn’t raise you that way,” my mother said.
“What way?” I responded, genuinely confused.
“To talk like that. We don’t say pee-pee.”
At that moment, I wondered if my mother had ever met me—or if she had ever met herself. I mean, we’d practically grown up together. I’m quite sure I’d heard her use the term “pee-pee” a time or two. Even if she didn’t, since when is pee-pee a bad word? Isn’t that the term parents use when trying to potty train their toddlers? Certainly, she didn’t want her 33-year-old son saying “I’ll have to teach my puppy to go potty.” I hadn’t been that confused since that one time I had to pick my mother out of a police lineup for eating grapes at the local Giant. I did end up choosing the wrong woman, but it wasn’t exactly my fault. All mothers look alike.
Respectfully, I asked my mother what term I was supposed to use instead. According to her, she’d raised me to say urinate. OK, between you and me, I don’t think I’ve ever used the word urinate before in my life. I mean, who does she think I am? The Queen of England? “Puppy, I now command you to urinate on the lawn.” There are like a bazillion things wrong with that statement.
Although I’m not a fighter, if I ever heard someone say that their puppy had to urinate, even I would want to take them out back and teach them a thing or two. Who talks like that? According to my mother, we do. After five minutes of back and forth, she decided to compromise and said that I could use “wee-wee” instead. When I asked her what the difference was between the two, she said, “Wee-wee just sounds better.”
I can’t wait until the next time I’m in the locker room at the gym with all the fellas and I excuse myself for a moment so that I can go wee-wee. That will go over real well, I’m sure. The next time we all play basketball or football, I just know I’ll be picked last. Right after Grandma Gertrude and Wheelchair Willy. It will be like high school all over again when all the teachers, bus drivers, and even the janitor were picked to play dodge ball before I was. Hmmm. Memories.
Now before you go thinking that I’m just this horrible son that goes around saying inappropriate stuff to his mother for kicks, I’d like to point out that my mother has certainly said some things to offend me as well. In fact, just last week she told me that I wasn’t her favorite child—even though I’m her only one. And let us not forget that one time when she said she wanted to leave me at the hospital at birth because I looked more like something you’d see delivered on Animal Planet as opposed to something that came out of a person.
In closing, I’d like you all to take a moment to think before you speak as you go about your week. If I could offend my mother by saying “pee-pee” instead of “wee-wee,” who knows how many other people we’re offending throughout the day. Maybe there is a better word for taco. Perhaps there is a more appropriate word for muffin. Just to be safe, you may want to ask my mother before you just go using words all willy-nilly. You can find her contact info on Match.com and under the personal ads section of your local newspaper.
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