Waiting for Normal

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Today’s book; "We’ve seen this situation before: a parent neglects a child, while the child seeks a wider community to find support. Here that child is 12-year-old Addie, who lives with Mommers in a trailer on a busy street in Schenectady after her adored stepfather and half sisters move upstate. Mommers has lost custody of the "littles" because of neglect, and though she and Addie can laugh together, once Mommers hooks up with Pete, she is not much for good times—though she brings the bad times home. Addie finds solace in occasional visits to her sisters and in her neighbors, especially Soula, ill from her chemotherapy treatments."

I’m all in favor of coming up with fun little nicknames for your mom, I have a few of them for my Mother as well (Mumsy, Musy-Wumsy, Motherkins), but there is such a thing as overkill, and the Mommers thing started to get annoying by the third page and by page 50 it was like nails on a chalkboard. Other than that one annoying little flaw the book was pretty good.

At the beginning of the book Addie and her Mother move into a trailer. In an effort to more fully relate to the book I decided to talk to two people who have actually lived in a trailer; my parents. They love to tell stories of their poverty-stricken trailer-bound newlywed days, so they were eager to share. When I was a child I used to love to tease my mother about having living in a trailer, to which she would respond, "Hey, it was a tasteful trailer park, not like those trashy ones they show on TV." When I talked to her about it today I reminded her of that comment, and she said, "Well it was. It was the nicest trailer park in the whole town." She seemed surprised when I started laughing after that statement. Then my Dad joined in the conversation and I began asking them trailer-related questions:

Me: So were you excited when you moved into the trailer park?

Mom: Oh yeah, compared to where I grew up the trailer park was a step up. (I’ve seen where she grew up and I can confirm for you dear readers that the trailer park was a step up.)

Dad: I was kind of proud, because it was all mine. . . well not mine. . . it was ours (Isn’t he good at covering his verbal slips dear readers?) And if I wanted to move a chair then I could . . . well I could check with your Mother and then move it.

I didn’t really have to ask anymore questions at that point because they both launched into anecdotes about trailer park living: the way the back door would freeze shut every night, how the hallway wasn’t big enough to turn around in, how the hot water heater wasn’t big enough for two hot showers in a row, how the trailer was so cold in the morning that they would have to put their towels and clothes in the dryer while they were showering to warm themselves back up again. And then they began to talk about how exciting it was to leave the trailer park; "When we moved into our first house it felt like a mansion. It was a house without wheels."

At this point in the conversation I got the theme song to The Jeffersons stuck in my head, except my version goes a little something like this:

We’re moving on up
To the subdivision
To a house without wheels on the land.

I considered continuing with the song, but I didn’t want to try your patience - so I’ll just leave it at that.