Lyrical Laughs

Sunday, March 13, 2016

My nonexistent poker face

Last time I talked about The Look, which has its place, as every mom knows. Sometimes being able to not react is an even greater gift when you’re raising your kids and significant other. Come on, you know part of your time is spent training the other ‘adult’.

It’s too easy for anyone to know what I’m thinking because I often react before I can stop myself from rolling my eyes or furrowing my unibrow. Spouse can tell immediately if something’s up, and yet he still crosses the I-can’t-believe-you-just-did-that line. This could be because he sees the signs early enough to run for his life.

It seems I passed this inability down to my children. During her middle school years First Born tried to slip one by me on at least a few occasions. I could usually read her like a paperback on a 50-cent sale rack because she, like me, could only avert her eyes for so long.

Second Born, on the other hand, couldn’t be bothered with the sneaky stuff. She has always been pretty straightforward even if she’s pretty sure I won’t be thrilled. It’s a good thing because being expressionless is not her strength.

Spouse’s best poker face is in place when we’re playing games like cards or checkers, but there is a method to his madness. He really likes to win. His little grin is beyond obnoxious when he does manage to run my score into the ground, though he has gotten more gracious about winning at shuffleboard.  It could be because we only play it when we are at a local watering hole and he figures if he gets carried away with winning he might be losing out on another beer. Leverage keeps me from complete defeat.

The other thing moms should have the advantage of is being able to keep a secret. Don’t get me wrong, I can keep a secret just fine - unless they are of the guess-what-we’re-going-to-do variety. Yes, I am a failure at hiding my excitement.

Recently I purchased concert tickets for a country artist Second Born and I are fans of. The concert isn’t until August and I had vowed to zip my lip until May when she would be home from college. Why tell her about an event that’s so far away, right? I lasted almost a week.

More than once First Born and The Groom (mostly back when he was The Boy) have delighted in making me crazy when they are on their way to visit. She would call or text and tell me they left much later than planned from home and to not expect us for a while, then they would pop up at our door a couple of hours before we originally expected them. I am always ecstatic, even the time I was still in my pajamas running the vacuum through the house.

You would think I’d catch on after a while. First Born has been doing this since she was in college, calling to say she just left school (two hours away) and pulling into the driveway ten minutes later. I’d hug the stuffing out of her while half-rebuking her for fooling me. I’m pretty sure she acquired this talent for trickery from her father.

Spouse is quite proficient at keeping secrets. So far he has only used this power for good… that I know of. It does make for some fun birthday or Christmas presents.

Maybe it’s the kid in me that can’t help but burst with happy or exciting news. It could be that same kid that neglects to temper my reaction to things and keep a poker face. But if I were you I’d stand back. Even if I am able to keep these things in check, the arm-flailing Italian in me will give it away.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Moms, may The Look be with you

Last week I joined Spouse and some of his work pals for a Friday night get together at a local restaurant. It’s always fun to meet up with the people who work with my mate and to hear their stories about him. I like having ammunition for future reference.

The coworkers teased about working with the hubby and asked me what the secret was to keeping him in line. I had to smile when I replied, “The Look.”

It took many years of practice on two children to perfect The Look before I even attempted it with Spouse. I have to admit it wasn’t very effective when the kids were each going through the Terrible Threes but I was able to get some training in during the middle school years. I swear, if such a force could be harnessed we would have world peace.

On this particular evening the place was hopping with many tables of folks celebrating the end of the week. Next to our table was a family with several children who demonstrated better manners than some of the adults in the restaurant. One of Spouse’s coworkers mentioned how impressed he was with their behavior and I was just about to respond, when we both glanced over and found ourselves within startled range of The Look.

One of the moms from the neighboring table, eyes piercing, lips pursed, bore down on a youngster who had apparently crossed the Behavior line. He visibly froze for a moment and then proceeded to eat his dinner without a peep. On the seat across from me the questioning coworker uttered, “Whoa – I think I just witnessed ‘It’” – and suddenly sat up a little straighter on his bench.

If you are a parent, chances are you not only understand what I’m talking about, you have experienced the influence of this mysterious gift yourself. It’s not always The Look that gets the point across, though.

When I was growing up it was my dad who carried the burden of disciplining me much of the time. There was nothing like hearing, “Just wait until your father gets home,” to make me want to hide in my room. I wasn’t afraid of my dad but I hated disappointing him, which he was very aware of. The best way to make me straighten out was to give a little backward wave of his hand, let out a little “Ahh” kind of groan and turn away in frustration.  Let me tell you, The Look had nothing over The Backward Wave.

My mom was a major influence on my everyday conduct and behavior, but she could never pull off the expression that would stop me in my tracks. It didn’t help that I was more like my dad and he seemed to know what I was thinking before I did. It also didn’t help that my irritatingly well-behaved sister did nothing to deflect his attention from my antics.

When our daughters were school age I would bring them to work on occasion for a visit. One day my boss remarked that he was impressed with how well behaved and respectful the girls were whenever they visited. He caught me off-guard when he continued with, “I can see why – you have The Look.” I hadn’t realized I was that good at it.

I know every parent has a way of clearly indicating their offspring should reconsider their actions or be grounded for life. If your child is too young at the moment to understand and respond to The Look, don’t despair. You’ll have plenty of time to perfect this method when they enter middle school and become proficient at their own method of communicating.

The Eye-Roll.