Monday, March 10, 2008

Egads! What if Mom Was Right? And a Contest

By Joanna Campbell Slan

“Don’t eat that. It’s dirty,” Mom used to say as my sisters and I ran around frantically trying to catch snowflakes on our tongues. And when we attempted a snow ice cream recipe, mixing sugar and half-and-half with five cups of the fluffy white stuff, she went apoplectic. “You don’t know where that’s been. What were you thinking? Throw that out, right now.”

So we did.

Bacteria in the Snowflakes?

Now I discover she was right. According to an Associated Press article in last week's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, scientists found that as much as 85% of the nuclei of snowflakes were bacteria. Okay, it’s the kind that only causes diseases in tomatoes, but those things mutate, don’t they? I mean, today it’s tomatoes, tomorrow you’re kissing your liver goodbye.

I set aside my daily paper, pushed away my latte, and buried my head in my hands. “If she was right about this…what else does Mom know? Maybe I should have been paying better attention.”

There was that threat: Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back. She said it and laughed. Was she teasing? I’ve experimented, and so far, no word from Florida about breaking bones, but…who knows? Maybe it’s just a matter of time.

If you read in poor light, you’ll need glasses. By golly, she had me there. I’ve been blind as the proverbial bat—not a real bat, mind you—since fourth grade. Then I had LASIK surgery. But since then I must gone back to reading in poor light, because now I can scarcely read my AARP card held at arm’s length.

Your face is going to get stuck like that. On close examination, I do believe that hash-mark between my eyes is the result of constant frowns. Of making faces about the cost of gas, why my teenage son isn’t home yet, and failed attempts at weight loss.

Step outside with wet hair and you’ll catch your death of cold. Maybe wet hair doesn’t attract the rhinovirus, but a good chill does lower your immune system. At least, I think it does. After all, no one seems to know exactly what does and does not prevent a cold. As a young adult, I gulped gallons of orange juice. Next, I popped Zinc lozenges. Now I chug Airborne. What if all along the culprit has been wet hair? Wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

I reach for the phone and give Mom a call.(That's a photo of us taken 50-some years ago.) She’s always glad to hear from me. I take a deep breath and apologize. “Mom, all these years, I wasn’t listening to you. Turns out, you were right.” I go through my list of “mom-isms” and give her long overdue credit.

A Useful Citizen at Last

“See?” She says, a hint of self-satisfaction in her voice. “The pediatrician told me someday you’d be a useful citizen.” With that she signs off.

I put away the paper and clean the breakfast dishes. I feel strangely relieved to know Mom was right about so much. Checking the time, I realize I need to hurry or I’ll be late for my appointment. One foot is out the door, when I hear my mother’s voice in my head: Always put on clean underwear before you go out. What if you get hit by a car and they take you to the hospital?

And, Lord help me, I run upstairs to change.


Annoucing the Box O'Books and Lots O' Stickers Contest

Pop on over to and enter the first ever Box O' Books and Lots O' Stickers Contest. All you have to do is sign up for our mailing list in the boxes on the right ON or BEFORE St. Patrick's Day, 2008, and you could win 1.) A box of gently read books totaling more than $180 in value or 2.) A selection of Mrs. Grossman's Stickers.

Come on and get lucky!

Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of ten non-fiction books. Her new series set in St. Louis will debut in September with Paper, Scissors, Death: A Scrapbooking Mystery (ISBN: 0-7387-1250-7) from Midnight Ink. Joanna and her family live in St. Louis.


Keith Raffel said...

Joanna, thanks for the reminder that mother knows best. My mom always said eating pasta and such caused an instant weight game. Too bad she's not around to see all the low-carb diets that abound. She knew. But moms always do, don't they?

G.M. Malliet said...

I used to read using a flashlight in bed after lights out. Of course, that was terrible for my eyesight, as my mother knew full well it would be.

After years of contact lenses I finally had the Lasik surgery, too. Same result: Now I can't read the food and drug labels - you know, the ones with dire warnings which, for some reason, are always printed in 4-point type. I'm lucky to be alive.

Your mom and mine must have read the same childcare manuals.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

As a mom, I found this...ah worrisome! What if I neglect to dispense the proper advice? Oh, the liability.

But, yeah, in general, there were kernels of truth in what she warned. Keith, how did she know about the pasta? That's advanced science! And Gin, I had LASIK, too. Which is great because when I travel and wake up in a strange hotel room, I can navigate across the floor without crashes, but like you, now I see NOTHING close up. Which I think was God's way of preparing me for wrinkles.

Felicia Donovan said...

Nice post, Joanna. If you really want to celebrate every "Mom-ism," turn up the volume and watch this:

G.M. Malliet said...

Felicia - Well, that's three minutes of my life I'll never get back, but it was worth it. /Very/ funny video.