crumbs of evidence
Just in case I ever forget how being a mom has made me nutty, here's a distinct trail of evidence: I volunteered to supply food for my son's preschool class as part of their state-mandated daily offering of fruit or vegetable. I wrote peppers on the sign-up sheet, because how many baby carrots and raisins can these kids eat, right? Plus, it goes along with my self-destructive compulsion of opting for the harder road every damn time. Two birds, one stone. So, I saw mini sweet peppers at the grocery store and heard echos of celebrity chefs directing me to look at the vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red. We eat first with our eyes so maybe the bright colors would entice a few kids to try them. I commenced cutting them up at around 8:15 pm at night. There must have been a short in my brain because before I knew it, I had my paring knife in hand and was cutting out letters of the alphabet. I also grabbed a bowl from the cabinet to save the scraps for sneaking into meals like meatloaf and homemade quesadillas (see conservation efforts for more). I think I had convinced myself that peppers would not be popular with the kids and didn't want to be the mom who sends in boring health food. At first I thought I would just do vowels. A was easy, E and I were a breeze, but the O got mangled. "Alright," I thought, "maybe I should do other letters, too." F's and M's turn out to be fairly easy. I mentally recited the alphabet and kept looking at the small mound of peppers, thinking that I would just do a few more. Ok, just a few more. Wait, did I forget the Y? Soon the pile was so small it seemed ridiculous not to finish all of them (oh, now it's ridiculous). I recited the alphabet again, making sure I had one of each letter before doubling up. I kept avoided the S, though, because my first one looked like a yellow pepper lightening bolt. Finally, I found the perfect pepper with the orange skin bumping out just the right way, allowing me to create the smooth curve of the letter S. Then, as abruptly as I had started, I was done and had a bag of crisp, gleaming, edible letters. I should have taken a picture. I handed them in to the teacher in the morning, apologetically saying, "I'm not really that mom. I don't know what compelled me to do this." We joked about not having anything better to do at 8 o'clock at night and I said, "Just give back whatever doesn't go and we'll eat them at home," before leaving. Fast forward two and a half hours later and I am walking towards the classroom. Imagine a preview clip for an evening TV drama and I'm walking in slow motion down the school hallway with the baby on my hip. I swing my head back to make sure my lagging two-year old is still behind me. As my head and long hair sweep back around, I glance at a woman and her grandson walking the opposite way. She kisses and hugs his head, before lovingly ruffling his hair and he is beaming with a shy pride. The words, "You did?! See I told you they were good!" register somewhere in my head. I take my place in the Mommy-line, pulled down to sit on the ledge by the two-year old, and sit the baby on my knees. I see my son's shoes appear through the legs of the loitering moms and (still in slow motion) scan up to see a big smile and bright eyes coming my way. He runs right to me and we all hug for a moment. I blink and raise my head expectantly at the teacher. She mouths, "One minute" and I brace myself for a bag of mushy, broken, pepper letters. Instead, she calls out of the classroom, "Nothing to give back. They were a hit! They all went!" Mental fist pump.
It's during these times, when acting just a bit bonkers produces moments like this, that I feel the tiny crackers bouncing around in my head are totally worth it.
I guess I can't deny I'm that mom anymore. If I dig down really deep inside and am brutally honest with myself, I probably never could.