There are moments, between corks, when I think about the limits of my patience. I think about strategies for maintaining my composure when things go completely haywire. Like when I’m sitting in the car, waiting for someone to find his or her shoes, and thinking about the admonishment handed back to me in a snotty tone just twenty minutes earlier for reminding said person to watch the clock because it’s almost time to go. I can hang in there for awhile, but I’d like to be able to stay really cool – Christian Grey cool, even when just below the surface I’m about to go fifty shades of crazy.
It makes me wonder: How would my family stand up to a mom version of Christian Grey? Would they fear her? Would they be drawn like a moth to a flame and eventually yearn for the punishment? Not like Ana’s yearning, of course, but a decidedly more G-rated yearning, similar to the way they drool at the mere mention of the phrases water slide park, or NFL Ticket! Would they all think twice before rolling their eyes at me, not making their bed before leaving for school, or leaving their backpacks strewn about the dining room?
The fact is, my household is a virtual Disneyland for maternal sadists.
I can see it very clearly. Just like those tense moments in 50 Shades, when Ana steps across an arbitrary and imaginary line, my family members would sense the sudden energy shift in the room. Of course, I wouldn’t have a long list of ridiculous infractions to avoid, like Christian does. You can bet Mama Grey’s No-No List would make Christian’s look like, well, child’s play—no pun intended. In fact, one of the first ways my family would probably become ensnared in the fine print would likely concern the most grievous and punishable offenses of all: not cleaning up after oneself in the kitchen.
First, the merest shadow of a hint of dissatisfaction would eclipse my normally sunny demeanor; somebody would notice, and the tension would start to build. Then, a cock of the head, and an innocent beckoning to “come closer.” Next, a gentle, yet direct inquisition.
“Is that your mess?”
“Um…it’s stuff from…uh, breakfast,” the submissive would say, eyes downcast.
“Is that your mess?”
“Well, it’s dishes on the counter….by the sink.”
“Pans on the stove from breakfast.”
“Stuff on the counter.”
“Crumbs and jelly on the counter.”
“I see. Pots and pans stretching from the stove to the sink and goopy countertops is called a mess, where I come from.”
“Does that mess belong to you?”
“Now, tell me, if I asked you whose job it is to clean up a mess like that, would the first, second or even third name that pops into your mind be mine, the only person who did not have a hand in making it because I was working all day while your greatest challenge was taking snack breaks between dips in the pool?”
“Perfect. Now, do you see that bungee cord over there—the one that’s been sitting in the corner of the living room for three weeks because someone, again, not me, tied the dog up to the front porch with it because someone else other than me lost the leash?
“I want you to go and get it and bring it here. I’m going to go get my thongs.”
After returning from the red room of pain, a.k.a., my closet, with a box labeled, “Punishing Childhood Memories,” we would begin.
“When I was a kid, thongs were hard rubbery contraptions, more like plastic really, that you wore on your feet. The unforgiving little thingy between your toes first caused raw, red divots, and then calluses formed, which compelled one to rub his toes together incessantly.”
“Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m not going to allow anyone to do any dishes tomorrow, or the next day, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Then, I’m going to pile them in the kitchen sink, which will be filled with soapy water. Then, you’re going to stand in front of the kitchen sink.”
“Wearing the thongs?”
“Did you just roll your eyes at me?”
“I didn’t think so.”
“What’s the bungee cord for?”
“That’s a very good question. You see, I’m going to hook the bungee cord to your back belt loop and the other end to the cabinet drawer on the other side of the kitchen island, directly behind you. I figure you’ll be about two feet shy of easily being able to reach the sink.”
Slowly, the mental lights will flicker to life…Constant straining against the stress of the bungee in order to reach the sink, hard rubber thingy between toes, sinkful of dishes….Yoooowwwie!
“But that’s going to hurt.”
“Almost as much as my feelings when I walk into the kitchen and see messes that anyone old enough to wipe his or her own butt can clean up for themselves, but has chosen instead to leave for the next person who needs to use the kitchen, and by use, I mean make a home-cooked meal for her family.”
“I promise never to do it again?”
“Yes, I know.”
“You’re my favorite mom?”
“Yes, I know.”
“Dad, can you get me out of this,” the mini-submissive will call out to his father, like poor old Tessio to Tom Hagen in The Godfather, just before he got snuffed out.