Scare thy neighbor.
By Elizabeth Thompson
“…suddenly there came a tapping,
as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door – only
this and nothing more.” ~ Edgar Allen Poe
The living room drapes were drawn as the dim light barely reached the surface of the end table that sat nearest our front door. The children were scattered throughout the house; each finding contentment in either reading a book, playing dress-up or with something a little more, high-tech .
It was the gift of a quiet moment and I took full advantage by seeking solace in reading through some paperwork.
Suddenly, there came a tapping…
A chill went up my spine and I nearly froze in fear before finally saying through tightly-clenched teeth:
“Don’t answer that!”
Okay, what would you do if one of your neighbors came knocking at your door?
Common courtesy would dictate:
“Answer the door, stupid!”
But, what if?
I reached for my temples and - turning my head a little too quickly - I waited for my brain to complete its load shift from one side of my skull to the other.
I was wearing my glasses and - thankfully, the squinting was left to a minimum - so, I could see that there was a shadow at the front door. I recognized the outline of the three footed walking cane, from halfway down the hall, belonging to my neighbor that was now tapping at the window pane once more.
I froze, both physically and mentally.
Had she seen?
The room was dark enough and the curtain covering the front door was opaque enough.
No - at least I don’t think she saw me - so, I slowly backed away from my front door.
“Shhhh, someone’s here...don’t...go...near...the...door!”
As I mouthed the last part, my middle oldest (10 and 7) immediately bolted toward our front door, and I cursed myself for shedding light on the fact that there was a visitor on our threshold.
I grabbed for them and quickly went blind.
“Noooooo. Get back here! I told you guys not go to the front door!”
My vision returned in floating flashes of white - but, I couldn’t speak - as I felt a sharp pain in my left eye.
Confused and a bit annoyed, they followed me back to the playroom as I tried to explain to them, as coherently as possible, how I wasn’t up for company – because it hurt.
“Why don’t you just open the door and say so?”
I stared at my twelve-year-old and then looked at each of their little questioning faces.
“Why can’t I? Hmmm…good question. You know what? I can. But, I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”
What I really wanted to say was:
“Because, I don’t feel good and I am really tired. Tired of being so damn nice. Tired of people thinking that I probably don’t have anything better to do just because I’m home. I’m tired of making small talk. I’m tired of having to give my attention to someone, 100% of the time. And Ms. B. is going to offer you more money. And I’m going to say no, more than once, which is going to annoy the crap out of me. And because this is mommy’s house, dammit!”
A few minutes passed and no more tapping.
I sat on the couch, breathed in a little sigh of relief, and exhaled a large amount of disgust.
So, what if I was the meanest mommy on the planet (again!) but, why do I have to feel like such a jerk, dammit?!?
I rubbed at both my temples and watched my children slink around the living room floor – pretending to be Spy Kids – and I decided that I was, most definitely, headed straight to where all mean mommies go - Disney World! - at the hottest time of the year and at full price.
This time, it came from the back door.
The kids screamed and - as they all ran in different directions, still screaming - I sunk deeper into the couch and closed my eyes. Like the flashes of lightning I saw behind my eyelids, my five-year-old moved quickly and pulled at the drapes of the playroom door.
“Oh, hewwwooo Ms. B...you scared us...yes, my mom is home....hey, mawmmmeeee...come quick...it’s Ms. B.”
I made two mental notes, and tried to compose myself, as I opened the door:
First - make a point to sit down with the kids and discuss the politically-correct way in handling the situation of receiving an unwanted visitor.
Secondly - remind them that them if they ever answer the door again, without checking with me first, that I will go all “Mommy Dearest” on their collective little asses!
In the meantime, I took my twelve-year-old’s advice.
I stuck to my guns, though - after refusing her $40 and trying hard not to notice the blood trickling down from a scratch on her right leg - I bid my apologies and a fond farewell to Ms. B., with a promise that I would:
“Feel better soon, oh, and be sure to get a bandaid on that knee...real quick!”
Good or bad, let’s just say that it is often times very hard for me to always try and do “the right thing” and - especially in those moments when being a Mom can get really scary - I am content as being the perfect example of “what not to do.”
At least I won’t be going to hell (not this time, anyway) because, I’m hoping that my kids learned a valuable lesson:
Sometimes ya’ just have to say, “NO!” and need not hide from the world in fear of disappointing others.
More importantly, to make it a point not be home...on Halloween!
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