Mom's Mission: Making A Difference

Mom's Mission: Making A Difference
I'm not sure what worried me more, the terrifying screams of my daughter or the forthcoming tirade from my wife after she learned of the ordeal that had just taken place in her absence.

On a late fall Saturday afternoon I was babysitting all three kids while their mom was doing some shopping. The weather was horrible, so I built a fire in the wood burner and set the TV on one of the movie channels. I promptly fell asleep on the couch, but not for long, as Kelly Ann's nerve-numbing shrieks terminated the normal pulse of my heart.

In retrospect, I suppose the movie Vampire Circus might not have been the best film choice for my children. When Count Dracula appeared in a window, two of my kids sprinted up the steps, leaving Kelly (age five or so) helplessly behind. Blood-curdling and bone-chilling do not come close to describing what was emanating from her vocal chords.

Later that day, I took my well-deserved lecture from my wife without an argument. After all, I was dead wrong in what I allowed to happen, and both she and I knew it. The kids also were reassured that this would never, ever happen again.

Fast forward a couple of years, and the scenario was basically the same. The only difference this time was that the two girls were now old enough to shop with their mom and I was in charge of Dave Junior on another weekend afternoon.

Imagine all the thoughts that my mind might muster when I was abruptly shaken and then awakened by a four-year-old with the following question, " Dad, which army guy said, We have to blow up that Goddamn foxhole!? "

This time I apparently fell asleep while my son watched a WWII movie where the GIs were bent on blowing up some Germans who were taking shelter in a bunker. With all the disorder, quick tempo, and the sounds of war, my son was just a tad confused.

Once again, I took the sermon from my wife with no argument. Young Dave also got an earful from her about using the term " damn. "

" But what about a water dam? " he asked his mom, mixing attitude with inquiry.

" Thats different, " she explained. " Water dams are a different kind of dam. "

Not wanting to prolong this whole dialogue, my wife wisely moved on to another subject as quickly as she could.

She gave me the " Lets drop it " look and I was in no position to disagree. This happens in husband and wife relationships where the husband has been known to fall short in his child raising expectations. Wives can become very proficient at not letting on to the kids that Dad just may be a complete doofus.

Something told me, though, that this was not quite over. The warning sign might have been my innate recognition that my son was just like me at that young age, and I sensed that he was not totally satisfied with his mom's explanation.


While getting the family ready for church services the following morning, my wife and I heard with plain clarity a very disgruntled lad in his bedroom, yelling, " I cant get these water dam shoes on. "

The speed attained by my wife as she navigated the hallway and burst into that bedroom defied all laws of physics. And this time, the one-sided monologue was rather heated.

My son learned a valuable lesson that day concerning what is acceptable language and what is not. And I learned never to underestimate the speed and strength of a tiny, yet determined, woman. Neither the force of water behind a dam nor a German military squadron in a bunker can compete with a mom determined to make a dam difference with her son.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA