by Roslyn Hammer
May 2010, VIEW Issue 26: Holy good Lord, stop already!” my father yelled as he listened to me trying to appease my son. From the time my son was 6 months old I knew I was never going to get the mother of the year award. I had read all the baby books on the market before he was born and thought I had a handle on this new way of life called “motherhood.”
It didn’t take long for me - and for him - to understand who the boss was. All he had to do was groan, and I was off and running.
By the time he was nine months old he was talking. He only said one word, but that was all he needed to communicate.
He would sit in his playpen and point to whatever his little heart desired. I jumped up and ran around the house offering him item after item to try and please him. “No!” he hollered. “How about this?” I’d say. “No! NO! NO!” he would cry.
I’d try again until luckily something around the house would make him happy. He didn’t learn another word until he was three years old.
Doctor visits were traumatic. We found a female pediatrician who happened to be seven months pregnant when he was four-years-old. She opened the examining room door and smiled at Ralphy. “When is your baby coming,” I asked. “In two months,” she replied. Ralphy looked at her and at me. “Where is your baby?” he asked. I tried to warn her. Oh, no, I thought. Please don’t tell him you know where your baby is. “It’s in my tummy,” she answered.
A look of horror crossed Ralphy’s face. “Why did you eat your Baby!” he cried. With patience she tried to explain some rudimentary facts of life. That was the beginning of my hell on earth. He never stopped. Question after question. I explained and explained “So, a baby comes from the ocean,” he said. “What are you talking about?” I said. “You told me a baby comes from the sea,” Ralphy said. “I said, a baby comes from a seed! Not the sea.” “Like a watermelon seed? Huh? Is that why her tummy was so big?" He asked in frustration.
By the time he was eight he could write letters. He wrote to Disneyland, every Chamber of Commerce in the United States, and Russia. Mail poured in daily. After sending a nasty letter to the Premiere of Russia because he saw children waiting in line for food, he received a book about Russia and an application to become a Pen Pal. Disgusted, he threw it on the floor and opened his next piece of mail from Disneyland. They requested that he no longer send for free information as they had already sent him nine packets and could no longer honor his requests.
“Look, Ralphy, my father said to him one morning, maybe you shouldn’t write so many letters. Your mother is going broke paying for all your stamps...” That afternoon Ralphy brought my father twenty new letters. “Grandpa, would you mail these for me? You don’t have to put any stamps on them. I found a way to mail everything without having to use stamps," he said.
“Great! I’ve been looking for a way to do that for years. That damn Post Office makes too much money. You tell me and I promise I won’t report you to the authorities. I won’t even tell your mother.”
“It’s very simple,: Grandpa. “I put my address on the front of the letter and the place I want it to go as the return address. This way when the mailman sees it has no stamp, he will return it to the place I really want it to go! Pretty smart, huh Grandpa?”
My father’s face broke into a big smile. “Hum,” my father said, as he thought for a moment. “Ralphy, you’re the first kid in this family that takes after me. Let’s me and you get a malt.”
Roslyn Hammer wrote for the Ojai Valley Voice during the 1990s. She has a background in stand-up comedy and comedy writing.
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