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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

~Where Are Your Manners?~

My mother is gone to the cabin with her best friend and their four wheelers. They have an arsenal between them that includes a bee-bee gun (my mother shoots birds. Yes, that's right. Grandma is packing heat and birds are falling--dead--from the sky.) a pistol and a shot-gun. I am shocked that my mother is doing any of those things, pre-menopause she was agoraphobic and exceedingly gentle. She fed the birds and the squirrels.

Because she is on some kind of road rippin' killin' mission, I have my sister Melinda. Yesterday I took her to Walmart and we got a new movie. Grease. I believe I prefer, "baby, oh sweet baby" to "you are the one that I want." I was around the house a lot during Mindy's previous Grease era, and I clapped when the vhs tape unspooled inside the VCR. Now it's here in my house, playing all day long, every day. In between the music I can hear my sister clap her hands and scream, "I love it! I LUH-UVE it!!" Ya know, that makes it alright. But what makes it even better is that my sister--the one who used to have seizure when she came to my house--now says to me, "I love you Debbie, you so nice to me."

When we went to Walmart our first stop was the McDonald's food court. We set down with our meal, and I noticed that my daughter was scanning the crowd, and then she would glance at Mindy. Mindy has an over bite, so she rips her food more than she bites it. Because she really has to cram the food into her mouth to get a good bite, and because she has to turn her head to pull of a chunk, she ends up with quite a bit of condiment on her face. And her shirt. She is fastidious about cleaning the ketchup. She holds a napkin in her left hand, the one that looks like a chicken claw. Sometimes she uses that hand to dab at her face, and when she does she announces it; "Debbie! Look! Look what I can do with my my my hand, jew see dat?"

It is a pretty amazing thing for her, a moment of triumph. That hand has only recently been released from a life time of casts and braces. Now that she is twenty six and she is no longer growing, she gets botox injections so that her hand relaxes. It is rather limp, and she often picks it up and kisses it while apologizing to it.

I am her sister, so I remember trying to push her stiff hand into her brace, and I remember how she would cry when her thumb was stretched to fit, and how long it took to straighten out her wrist enough to lay straight so it could be buckled into hard plastic. I remember when the cushioning was added because the plastic was giving her blisters all around her thumb, and the buckles across her wrist and arm left tiny lesions.

So, the fact that my sister can use her chicken claw hand to wipe her chin is pretty amazing.

Yesterday, when I was cheering my sister on and telling her how cool it was that she could raise her arm and wipe her chin, I forgot that we are freak show, and every one likes to start at a freak show. The thing is, Mindy is twenty six and I stopped being embaressed of her when I was in my twenties. If she notices people staring, she assumes it is because she is pretty--so it doesn't bother her at all. The adult population has gotten very good at staring at my sister, but avoiding my eyes. I don't see the stops in the aisle way behind us, I am not watching the guy leaning towards the glass to get a better look. I am not paying attention to the sideways glances--because I am paying attention to my sister and making sure she doesn't tip over or choke.

Kate is affected by the stares and the pointing. Throughout the entire trip Kate kept nudging me and saying, "mom, that guy is looking at us." and "Mom, did you see that lady pointing?" "Mom, I think that kid is laughing at you."

It wasn't so much what she said that made me realize that she was reaching a mile stone of maturity; it was the way she began to look at my sister. Melinda has always been a great source of toys for all her nephews and nieces--and she has every new movie that comes out. My kids spend a lot of time buttering her up so they can take her trucks and dolls. Perhaps Kate always looked at her with the cunning of a child who knows she is smarter so she can get what she wants from her aunt.

Yesterday I saw the look change from cunning, to one of understanding. Kaitlyn is of an age to know that being stared at is bad. She began to look at my sister as though she felt sorry for her. And maybe pity is a bad thing--but in this case the pity created a situation where my daughter voluntarily held her aunt's arm. Mindy walks better with someone's hand on her, and yesterday my daughter took the responsiblity.

I am impressed with the maturity that it takes for an eleven year old to put herself under the scrutiny of the public that is not yet mature enough to understand that staring is rude.


emmapeelDallas said...

I'm impressed, too. Kaitlyn sounds like one terrific girl, but that doesn't surprise me, because clearly, she has a terrific mother, grandmother and aunt.


Ash said...

That was one of the best posts written.

Deborah said...

Judi, she is a pretty terrific little girl, I need to remember to tell her more often.

ash, ahhh. thanks!