Where are you, Mom?

When you're a kid, you spend a lot of time waiting for your mom to pick you up. School, the roller rink, the arcade, baseball practice – all are outside biking distance. So Mom has to drop you off and pick you up. But Mom's taxi is a double-edged sword: It's free and it's usually available, but it's always running late.

Time spent waiting for a ride sucks the life energy out of kids. They morph into zombies. Hands tucked into their pockets and heads lowered, they rock and pace in disquietude. Aside from becoming undead, kids find the waiting an embarrassment. Everybody sees you at your most helpless and pathetic. Luckier kids disappear as their moms finally show. You hate to see that. The sight of fellow zombies is comforting. There's an unspoken friendship among abandoned children. Each takes comfort in the other's desperation. But the other moms arrive. One by one, pint-sized zombies are reborn and drink the elixir of mother's love as they climb into station wagons with siblings and poodles with wagging tails. Viva life!

After the other moms rescue their kids, you stand alone. The wind howls. The sun sinks and wanes. Cars rip by. Their passengers look at you and think, “Looks like that poor little bastard's mom forgot him. He'll probably be on a milk carton by Wednesday.”

During those waiting spells, I found kicking stones a good way to pass the time. It keeps you sane. If you're lucky, you'll find a crushed beer can. You can use it as a makeshift hockey puck. So you kick road debris here and there, scoring imaginary goals. This is your existence now. You kick stuff and watch it ricochet down the street, listen to it scratch the asphalt. Every so often you take time out because you spot a car approaching in the distance. It looks like Mom's car. It's Mom...It's Mom...Looks like our car..looks like it... Ah, Damn! It turned off.

Where the hell are you, Mom?

I'd wonder what my mom was doing instead of tending to me. What was keeping her? Hey, here's a pleasant thought: maybe she was running late because she stopped at McDonald's for me. It was compensation for the hell she's put me through, or just because I'm such a good kid. Oh, man. I was in for treat. Sure, I had to stand around for a while, but it was worth it. Soon I'd be riding home, basking in the aroma of a Happy Meal.

That never happened. Forgotten kids everywhere will tell you that the last-minute McDonald's trip is a mirage. Once enough time passed, you realized this was no McDonald's trip. It was more likely a shopping excursion. Mom was probably shopping for all kinds of mom crap: pot holders and Tupperware and gardening gloves and other crap. Hey Mom, why don't you stop by the jewelry department and buy a freaking watch? I'm dying out here!

Fifteen minutes have come and gone. By now I'd resigned to the worst scenarios. I'll either be the victim of homicide or I'll succumb to the rigors of homelessness -- starvation, hypothermia, street violence, whichever. Just wait until Mom discovers my fate. That'll teach her. She'll feel awful and the guilt will plague her for the remainder of her life. I take solace in that. She'll deserve it, too. After all, isn't that the guilt trip she laid on me when I'm late? “Richie, I thought you'd been kidnapped. I have half the neighborhood looking for you.” Jeez, Mom. I'm late because John's mom made a plate of nachos, not because I decided to go shopping for stupid mom stuff. Jeez!

Too bad they didn't have cell phones when I was young. When my mom forgot to pick me up, I could text her: “Mom. Im stranded. U R L8. Remember U have a kid. U R stupid. Come get me.” Kids today will never know the anguish of waiting without explanation. All they have to do is download Mom's position on their cell phone GPS for a live, up-to-date briefing. I wonder if they know how easy they have it.

I should give Mom credit. She always showed eventually. To be fair, she was often on time. She usually had a pretty good reason for being late. And a few times she felt so bad that I did indeed parlay the transgression into a trip to McDonald's. Thanks, Mom.


OldHorsetailSnake said...

Aw, Bugs, you're so funny and cute and all.....

Jeannie said...

My mom was never late because my mom almost never drove me anywhere or picked me up. I walked. Or took the bus (but that was in those heady days before kids pictures on milk cartons so kids went places on their own at 6 or 7 years old). My mother was so against being a taxi that when my brother had injured himself playing rugby and was on crutches for a couple weeks, she would drive him to school but I STILL had to walk. Geez.

Paul said...

My Mom forgot to pick me up from summer camp once. Well, she didn't actually forget, she just had it marked on her calendar for the next day.

Talk about being the unloved kid!

Sassy Blondie said...

Being raised by a single dad, I was the school orphan. Pitying moms jockeyed to give the poor little blonde girl a ride home because (in a whisper) "she doesn't have a mom".

But that also almost always led to the surrogate mom making a stop for ice cream, or you guessed it, McD's.

Great post, LBB! Where the hell are you indeed! LOL

The Doggy Did It said...

I almost cried for your pathetic little ass standing around kicking debris.


Osbasso said...

Good lord! I've been away for so long...I come back, and find that you haven't dropped a beat!

Roxrocks said...

I was also made to walk or bike, since there was no such thing as being out of biking distance.

My kids? Have never waited ever. I have though! Thank god for the cell phones because it works both ways..."I'm here, let's go!"

Dan O. said...

Yea, talk about waiting...

I think you owe us all a Happy Meal.

(Great post as always, though.)

Anonymous said...

I used to wait for my mother to come home, and sometimes she didn't.

This is a wonderfully written post.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

My mom was pretty good about being on time. Now if it were up to my dad (whom I really do love dearly), I'd still be waiting at the pick-up spot at my elementary school.

Mona said...

I don't know why, this post reminded me of this song:

and she takes another step
slowly she opens the door
check that he is sleeping
pick up all the broken glass
and furniture on the floor
been up half the night screaming
now it's time to get away
pack up the kids in the car
another bruise to try and hide
another alibi to write
another ditch in the road
you keep moving
another stop sign
you keep moving on
and the years go by so fast
wonder how I ever made it through

and there are children to think of
baby's asleep in the back seat
wonder how they'll ever make it
through this living nightmare
but the mind is an amazing thing
full of candy dreams and new toys
and another cheap hotel
two beds and a coffee machine
but there are groceries to buy
and she knows she'll have to go home

another ditch in the road
you keep moving
another stop sign
you keep moving on
and the years go by so fast
wonder how I ever made it through

another bruise to try and hide
another alibi to write
another lonely highway in the black of night
there's hope in the darkness
I know you're gonna make it

another ditch in the road
keep moving
another stop sign
you keep moving on
and the years go by so fast
silent fortress built to last
wonder how I ever made it

Mona said...

there is something very 'poignant' about this post Big Butt! & it is making me cry...

Hammer said...

I would have been happy with a band of roving gypsies adopting me ..that would show her for forgetting to pick me up!

Dave Morris said...

This is some of your best work. Yes, I remember all of it on the odd occasion of my mom's tardiness. But like Jeannie, usually I walked or rode my bike everywhere.

You totally nailed the emotion of "the wait!"

M said...

great. bring back sad memories. now i will have to sleep for days and drink booze to recover.

i don't think i could have kids because i am forgetful. i am afraid i would be like one of those parents who forgets the child in the airport and goes on vacation forgetting that they actually have 3 kids not 2.

Loving Annie said...

At first, I totally wanted to cry, you were describing the pain of a kid of an alcoholic/addict mom so well...

I'm glad that your Mom wasn't one, and that most of the time she WAS on time.

Becky said...

My mom went through a bad phase after her divorce. I was 15 and working and she was a little late to pick me up from my Wendy's job, then all of the sudden she drives into the exit! Bitch was drunk!

Yo Momma said...

worse than mom picking you up late is siblings who are old enough to drive and are now strapped with the responsibility of dropping you off and picking you up.

Not only are they an hour or two late - but they give you the evil eye for taking them away from their make out session with their girlfriends!

Mona said...

(((HUGS))) I love you my friend!

kitty said...

haaaa you TOTALLY nailed the way that wait feels!!

my mom was ALWAYS late!! so late that brownie troop leaders cursed her and babysitters threatened (to their friends on the phone) to just leave if she didn't get there soon!!

I spent most of my childhood feeling like I was going to have to figure out a way to raise my little sister by myself because we were being abandoned haaaa

unfortunately she got over her lateness issue by the time we were teenagers... by then she was usually spot on... or early!!

freakin' MOM!!!

thanks for the memories!!

Anonymous said...

dude, i was the 4th of 5 kids. by the time i was born i was lucky to get any attention at all!! hell, i was lucky to get called by my right name! :)

I'll never forget waiting to get picked up from gymnastics when i was 8. My Mom never showed! she literally forgot about me. she had locked up the house and closed the garage for the nite and apparently did not get the phone calls from my gym coach that it was time to get Katie!

anyways, at around 11pm i was picked up. she felt bad. i got a new barbie and all was right in my little world again.

Good writing, LBB. You have a gift, me thinks. :)

Ari said...

The saddest is the Last Kid at School That Day. In second grade and below, that always turns on the waterworks for sure.

Anonymous said...

you can link my new address, LBB! it's cool wit me!
have a good one and thanks for stopping by! El Sausage thanks you! :)

Breazy said...

My mom was always on time or she would send another family member.

In 16yrs of being a mother, I have been late to pick-up one time. My son was in kindergarten and I was on my way to get him when I got stuck sitting in traffic from an accident. My cell was dead and my car charger for my cell had disappeared so I had no way to call the school. By the time I got there, half an hour late, he was in the gym shooting hoops with his gym teacher and the kids that stay for the after school care.

Hope your day is going great !

Susan as herself said...

I wish I had a dollar for every hour I stood in the arctic cold of winter in norhter NY State waiting for parental pick-up.

But even worse than that was when they said "It's not that far. You can walk."

Come to think of it, I wish I had a dollar for every mile I walked around town from age 8 to age 18.

NWJR said...

McDonald's? Phhhht. The really cool Moms take their kids to Sonic.

Chick said...

I've found that mom guilt is a wonderful thing to exploit...hell, I learned from the best because she's so good at using mine to rake me over the coals.

Mona said...

LBB I just came in from the mall & it was exact same pandemonium that you had described whilst you visited the walmart! & I thought about your post!

Whew! I saw it all first hand today!

Mack said...

It's funny to listen to my mom talk about what a good job she did raising me. It's laughable. I love my mom, but she's super lucky I turned out the way I did.

My mom never picked me up from anywhere...she always got other moms to do it. I was that kid.

Evil Genius said...

Some days I would've given anything to have been left stranded somewhere. No, I had to be bussed in from a nearby city to school. Damn busses. You can't parlay a bus being late into getting McDonalds.

snowelf said...

"Hey Mom, why don't you stop by the jewelry department and buy a freaking watch? I'm dying out here!"

omg that was awesome!! you rock LBB :)


Anonymous said...

Great post! Brought me back to 8th grade...


Cynic with Flair said...

I always walked everywhere...don't remember my stay-at-home mom doing a whole lot extra than I do as a single mom. But you are so right - no cell phones, no texting...we were just screwed if our moms or big brothers didn't show. I think that's why I could eat so many Hostess cupcakes...I walked like, 5-10 miles a day to get home!

Heather said...

My mom hired someone to drive me to school and pick me up every day so she wouldn't have to do it.

That stung more than her running late would've, I think.

tornwordo said...

My parents made me take the bus if I wanted to go somewhere. Once, they forgot to pick me up at school though and I remember getting an ice cream out of that.

Karen said...

My mom was ALWAYS fucking late.

Easily distracted.

MsPuddin said...

haha. my mom and i just had this conversation. her excuse was because i was the oldest, she could leave me waiting...um ok, im also the girl. do you know how many girls get picked up by older men? it never happened to me, but it could have...

and i wont even get into the time she forgot me...

Mr. Friendly said...

My parents made me walk...

Made me the man I am today...


Beth from the Funny Farm said...

Your bringing back some memories here for me.

Marianne said...

My mom was never late. She would show up early and kill the fun.

She would drop me off late and pick me up early.

Jesus, my childhood sucked.

And now I need a drink.

Suz said...

The story of my childhood. I am so thankful I was not sold into child labor while standing around for Mom to pick me up.
My kids freak if I am 2 minutes late...they don't know how lucky they are. Oh, but I tell them.