Keeping Score

When I was kid, I had a lot of time to observe my mother. Though she worked, for some reason, I have lots of memories of spending time with her. Or at least our being in the house at the same time. I got from mother a love of tea and toast and gossip. Maybe not really gossip, just the inter-family bitch and moan was probably more like it.

We’d sit every morning at the dining table, drinking our tea and munching our butte-drenched toast and she’d tell me all about how she was being shafted by the rest of the family. Not really the rest of the family more specifically her older sister – Aunt A. Those two had a serious love/hate relationship going for all the years they were both on the Earth at the same time. The scope of it went beyond sibling rivalry – it was a lot more like keeping up with the Jones’s. Aunt A was always flashing some new gadget, furniture suite or piece of bling in my mom’s face and my mom always felt less because she didn’t have anything to flash back. Or when she did get something it was passe’ to Aunt A by the time my mom had one.

Anyway, after any type of family event, whether wedding, shower, birthday, bowling match, card game, house party or bingo extravaganza, Mom would be brimming with resentment to share with me over tea and toast the next day. The list was endless – so and so said this – cousin whosey bobbit looked at her funny, uncle boopy gave her the cold shoulder. She took no prisoners and told all during our morning chats (well she was chatting and I was listening). All the gory details in full description and 3-d play by plays of the entire lollapalooza. Whatever.

And the thing that always fascintated me about these little mother daughter chats was the look on her face as she told me. As though I could see the wheels turning and hear the bells ringing between her ears. And always after it was over, she’d say something like – ‘they’ll see.’ Which was meant to mean that she’d get her pay back one way or the other. Because she was keeping score. She kept score about everything. How good the gifts were that she received, from my dad, her kids, her relatives and friends. Scored how we did our weekly chores. How many birthday cards she got. How many phone calls on her birthday. My mom was a real score keeper – if it was an Olympic sport, she’d definitely have brought home the gold every time.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that I’m starting to think that I’ve inherited this charming attribute to some degree. I find myself counting things. Noting how Joe treats me compared to Suzy. Whether the waitress was nicer to people at the next table. And on and on. And I have to say it bothers the hell out of me. Of all the many talents my mother had this is one I really don’t want. Can I give it back? It seems to have a mind of its own, actually. Maybe I should name it and keep it in a cage and feed it bananas? It should definitely get its shots, lest it infect others with its paranoic germs. It doesn’t come around all the time – usually only in moments of weakness or frailty, stress. Obviously, when I’m too weak to fight it off and beat it with a stick. I think I’ll name it Basil.

I wonder too, if other people have a Basil. Some of you out there might be nodding and saying, ‘sure, I feed it prozac’ or some such. But you know I’m not one to go that route – I can barely drink, imagine me on drugs. Not a pretty thought. But do other people have their version of Basil? And if so, what the hell do you do with it? I mean, how can you just erase an attribute from your personality? I sure haven’t found the way. The best I can do is hide the notepads and pencils from him and hope he will nap most of the time from all the carbs I feed him.

Because the truth is, I don’t want to keep score anymore. Shit, I hope the bastard doesn’t eat me.

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12 thoughts on “Keeping Score

  1. Oh Annie, what a wonderful post. I’ve had a long, luxurious weekend off the laptop (yes, I did it!) and have logged on to read my favourite blogger and had to smile all the way through this – and for many reasons – not the least of which is “uncle boopy”.
    We all turn into our mothers – all of us – it’s a cruel, cruel joke πŸ˜‰
    The good thing is that with each generation these insecurity-driven traits become less and less. You are aware of the trait (and it sounds like your mother wasn’t) and you know it doesn’t raise its head all the time – well that’s wonderful!
    My mum is similar in some ways and it’s pretty hard, and I hate it when I hear myself doing the same thing.
    You can’t erase Basil, you can only feed him love and forgiveness and with each loving thought, Basil will slink off because the Basils’ of this world feed on fear, not love.
    Phew, that’s my philosophising done for the week!

    Hey Sweet One,
    You’re right, it is a cruel, cruel joke – and we do have some funny family names, eh? πŸ˜‰

    I don’t know about feeding Basil love though, he really seems to prefer bananas and cocoa puffs. Though he isn’t wild about the cage. πŸ˜†

    Hugs,
    Annie

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  2. UGH…just last night I said something to my son, and immediately afterwards thought “Oh dear gawd, that was my mother.” And the look on my son’s face was the same one I get. I call my mother’s little verbal slip ups Janet-isms. I totally agree with Simonne. You have to acknowledge Basil and kindly inform him that you are not going to play in his sandbox very much, if at all. Eventually, he’ll get bored and move on.

    Hey uber boat lady!
    LOL – I loved the term Janet-isms. In fact, I’ve always thought if I ever opened up a cafe (one of my many dreams) I’d call it the Damn it Janet, Cafe – but I digress.

    You and Simonne are such kind people, wanting to handle Basil with love and understanding – I, on the other hand want to beat him senseless with a pineapple. Maybe I can get him cast in a reality television show? πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  3. It may not be the best characteristic you could have inherited, but it was hers .. and now it’s yours. I would cherish that.
    I say things and do things and think, “That’s my mom.” I sigh and think NOOOoooo!! But then, it’s her. It’s mom. And I welcome the quirk.

    Hey Red,
    Well, that’s an interesting way of looking at it. Dont’ get me wrong, I love my mom – but it’s hard not to cringe when I hear, see, smell her in myself (except when I’m cooking and then I can totally groove on that) – the same way I did when I was a kid and watching it all unfold. Maybe it’s because I always knews, even when I was a very little kid, that she was unhappy and life was a disappointment to her. I think it’s that result that scares me the most.

    Annie

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  4. It’s strange how women often dread being like their mothers. i wonder if my girls feel that same dread.

    There are many things about my mother i want- her empathy, her compassion for the underdog, her creativity. But the things i don’t want i definately have- short temper, low self esteem, an aversion to people.

    i would say that when you realize the Score Keeper lifting the chalk, stop and think. Think of all the wonderful things you have. Do you strive and drive for you or for others? i think we all know that you do wonderful things because that’s what you do because that’s what you are, so when does what you do turn into an edge over, or fall a step behind, others? i think when you find that point, where it turns, you’ll be able to get rid of old Basil, or at least keep him under your control rather than the other way around.

    You know, you’re right, Chica – women do have a thing about turning into their mothers – yet men don’t seem to worry about turning into their fathers. What’s up with that? 😯

    Hmm…lifting the chalk, eh? I think I forgot to hide that from Basil too. And I’d rather keep him under that stairs than my control, but yeah, I get you. I see your point. It’s one of those weird things…you know in your head it isn’t right…stilll…..
    Annie

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  5. Wow! I love this blog! The layout is amazing and I love the way you respond to people’s comments right under what they write. Did you design this yourself? Is it a template?

    As for your post, I could definitely relate! I have a bad habit sometimes of “keeping count” too. For me though, it’s more of just looking at how many times people I know have been successful and how few times I compare. Ugh! It’s definitely a habit that needs breaking.

    Well, hi Dube and thanks for coming by. Thanks for all your admiring of my blog. Yes, I designed but no, I didn’t build the template – I just searched through a couple thousand to find it. LOL. I self-host my blog which means I get a whole lot more choices than I had when I was in the freebie wordpress blog neighborhood. If you ever want to self host, let me know – there are some mighty fun little whatzit’s and whoozit’s to play with. Responding the comments within the comment is easy – just go into your comments screen, click on the person’s avatar (or that blank thing they give you if the person doesn’t have an avatar) – and an edit box pops up. Put you cursor where you want to begin your response and click, then start typing. When you’re through, scroll up to the right hand of your screen and click on the save button. If you want to bold or ital your response you can do that while you are in the edit screen.

    Yes, keeping score probably isn’t a great way to approach our lives, since really we can probably always find somebody who has done more, seen more, been more. Have to keep those Basils at bay. πŸ™‚

    Hope to see you again, Dube
    WC

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  6. Well I think the fact that you recognize “Basil,” already puts you ahead of your mother in the game.

    Acknowledging “Basil,” allows you to tame her and keep her under control.

    Very perceptive post, by the way! πŸ™‚

    Howdy RHW,
    You girls and your ‘keeping Basil under control’ – lol. I want to put him under a rock, a chair, the stairs – but under control? Hmmm…I suddenly feel like nurse rat-shit. πŸ˜†

    SEriously though, thanks for the advice.

    WC

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  7. I had a boss once that I liked to call ‘Razzle Dazzle Basil” (it does rhyme, doesn’t it?) and all my coworkers were horrified that he’d find out and I would be on the shitlist. I thought it was funny and was able to say it to his face the day I was fired. Well, I wasn’t really fired; ‘laid off’, budget cuts, blah blah blah. Thanks for reminding me of him.

    The bad character trait I got from my mom? the ability to seem nice but be bitingly sarcastic.

    C! Gawd you crack me up. Like you, I always come up with weird nicknames for people, especially bosses and co-workers. And the more sour the puss the more silly the name.

    What’s wrong with bitingly sarcastic? πŸ˜†
    WC

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  8. Basil? LOL! Coming up with a moniker like that gives you all the control you need. I had very Basilesque mother-in-law-from-hell, which makes it real easy for me; I’d sooner rip my tongue out than sound like her. My mom was merely judgmental by comparison.

    Oh I had a mother in law from Hell too. What a beotch. Every time we saw her, she’d look at my then husband and say, “You look so thin, isn’t she feeding you?” When the truth was I was cooking my ass off for the guy. I actually used to call him Shovel Mouth because whenever he ate, he’d nearly lay his face in his plate and just start shoveling the food in. Needless to say the marriage was doomed to failure. πŸ˜‰
    Annie

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  9. this afflication strikes me from time to time and sometimes more often than not, annie, you
    don’t know how sane your piece here has made
    me feel, i’m not alone, there are other
    emotional bean-counters – yah! i think.

    Jade,
    No, honey, you aren’t alone. I guess we all have our emotional bean counters, eh? Just feed him/her lots of bananas and put sleeping powder in his/her protein drink. That should handle it. πŸ˜‰
    Annie

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  10. What’s my Basil? Hmmm… I guess it would be my “why have someone else do it, when I can do it better myself” attitude. I need to learn to delegate. I’m not very good at it. Taking charge can be a good thing, but it can also just add to the stress load of life.

    You know it’s there, and that’s half the battle of stopping a habit you don’t like.

    Great post!

    Mrs. V,
    I really laughed at the
    “why have someone else do it, when I can do it better myself” attitude.
    I so know that one. And you’re right, just adds to the stress load. I’m reminded of that song, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. πŸ˜‰
    Annie

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  11. I think my Basil is the fact that I like to be acknowledged for the things I do around the house. Granted I have a lot of free time and don’t work terribly hard but when I spend two hours cooking a good meal I like to hear “Hey, thanks, supper was good.” My son-in-law has never once thanked me for cooking his supper every night for over a year. I know he has had problems with his own mother. He doesn’t even call her mom. He calls her by her first name as he does his father. He calls me Mom. I think it was just the way he was brought up. My daughter and wasband always thank me for supper. I just wish that once my SIL would actually say the words.

    My mother returned almost every birthday, Mother’s day and Christmas gift my sister and I ever gave her. We once gave her a plant and she returned it because she said it didn’t match the color of the house. She had her problems too.

    Hey Joanie,
    I agree, your SIL should say thanks for the meals. But man oh man, your mom? Yikes – that just ain’t cool. Jeez, and how’d you turn out to be such a nice person? A lot like your dad, I suspect.
    πŸ™‚
    Annie

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