Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Eyes In The Back Of Her Head"

Until I became a mother myself, I never quite understood how my mom always knew when we kids were "up to something" - meaning doing or planning an activity she had forbidden - usually something that she considered dangerous or against her ideas of human decency. When asked how she knew, she would say, "Oh, I have eyes in the back of my head."
By the time I was in my teens, which I was when this picture of Mom, Dad and little brother, Leslie was taken prior to their attendance of the Centennial Parade in '57, I had refined my 'forbiddens' to include "what Mom doesn't know, can't be punished". I started developing being sneaky.

 In 1957 a new girl moved into the neighborhood and started school at Jasper #2 when I was in 8th grade there. I wrote in my diary on February 26th, "Elaine Sackett started to our school. 6th grade. Nice." Elaine and I became friends and continued our friendship even after I began high school. This picture of her is from one of my high school annuals. (Incidentally, Elaine and I now share the same last name as she married a distant cousin of mine.)

It was December. Mom had given me money to buy Christmas presents. In those days it was probably a five dollar bill. I had to put that with whatever I'd been able to save out of my allowance and stretch it to buy something for everyone in my family. It took some judicious spending.
There was a necklace at Dunham Rexall Drugstore that I wanted SO darn bad, but Mom had said I had to use the money to buy gifts for others; I could not spend anything on myself.

I ran into Elaine. She was also Christmas shopping so we joined forces and started going to all the stores, looking for ideas of what to buy. We got to Dunham's and I showed her the necklace I coveted and she showed me a Revlon lipstick she wanted. I hit upon the idea that we should exchange gifts. After all, Mom said I had to use my money to buy for others. That way I could buy Elaine a Christmas present and she would buy me the necklace I wanted as a gift from her. Perfect solution.

Until Mom saw the necklace and said, "I thought I told you not to spend any of that money on yourself!" "I didn't", I explained. "Elaine gave it to me, so I bought a lipstick to give to her." Mom smelled a rat. Somehow she knew I had come up with what I thought was the perfect plot to get what I wanted. Maybe it was the G-U-I-L-T written all over my face.
She told me to return the necklace and get my money back. Which no way did I want to do.

That lead me even further into my deception. The necklace was stamped 'pure copper' - easy to scratch "R. L. + K. B. on the back of it so it couldn't be returned. I showed it to Mom. "I can't return it", I said.
I have no idea now how she replied to that. I only remember she let me know how deeply disappointed she was with me. And that was one of the worst feelings in the world. I was ashamed of my selfishness, my deceit AND my conceit - thinking I could outsmart Mom.
It should go without saying that the necklace was spoiled for me. I did wear it some, but the joy of ownership had been blighted. I could not wear it without again feeling how I had let my Mom down.
It was one of those hard lessons to learn. Looking back I think it was one of the contributing factors to my dislike of Christmas.


  1. Thanks, Donna.
    Your posts about making cheese remind me of my Mom. She also had excess milk from her cow and often used it to make different kinds of cheese. It was good. She would never let anything go to waste - just like you.

  2. Hmm...funny how I never heard this story when I was young and looking to get away with my own hijinks. Tricky Mommy!