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Friday, February 6, 2009

The "Look"

I spent my childhood getting "looks". You know, the looks from your parents- you study them, you learn them out of necessity to save yourself a lot of grief and time in your room. I think I got a lot more of those looks from my mom than the average kid.

Look #1: The "You'd better stop that now or I'm going to come down there in front of all these people and spank your bare bottom!" look.

This look was given on Sundays while my mom was up at the organ. We kids had to sit on the 2nd row so she could see us and give us looks if we were being naughty. I don't think she ever actually had to even turn her head to give the look, we just felt it in our bones as she was playing. Her mouth would tense up and her eyes would narrow, and we would know we were in trouble. It usually came with a snap and a pointed finger. Sometimes we'd just get the snap and finger and we'd know the look was coming. I'm pretty sure I was usually the cause of this look.

Look #2: the "you're about one sassy remark away from spending the rest of your life in time out" look.

This look was usually given when I was being particularly sassy. Again, the lips would tense up and the eyes would narrow, but this look was markedly different. It wouldn't be obvious to the average person- you'd have to be my mom's child to know what was coming. She had this amazing ability to fill you with a sense of complete terror and dread through this look. Some kind of subliminal text messaging that said: You'd better tuck your tail between your legs and start running. It didn't require any physical actions whatsoever- just giving the look said it all.

Look #2: the "you've hurt my feelings so bad I'm not sure you are even my real child. No real flesh and blood of mine would ever even think of doing such a heartless thing" look.

Yes, this look was all about the guilt. No pursed lips- no narrowed eyes- not even a finger snap. This look was a shocked, unbelieving look. I usually got this look when I said something really rude, or was super sassy. (yes, I got it often!) It made my spleen shrivel up inside of me from humiliation. It struck you to the core with the realization that you had wounded your own mother in such an unforgivable way that you were sure that this time she might actually sell you to the gypsies she had threatened would take you so often in your childhood.

I think this look was the greatest look of them all- it invoked sorrow, regret, humiliation, fear, and guilt all at once! This was the mother of all looks, and I have practiced it over and over and over again. I just can't do it. I thought this look would naturally come with being a mother, but it doesn't. I've tried to get my mom to teach it to me, but she feigns innocence, claiming she never gave me a "look". (I know deep down she KNOWS what she did and is punishing me for all the grief I gave her.)

I guess I'll have to figure the "look" out for myself. So far, I've only been successful at making my son ask me if I'm feeling ok. Obviously not the "look" I'm going for!

I dreamed last night that I had mastered the "look". It was glorious. Masses would fall at my feet and fear and tremble when I gave it. My son wouldn't dare to even open his mouth unless it was to say "What can I do for you, dear mother?" I was a pro!

And I looked just like my mom!