Mom no longer asks
if she has everything
From the time my children were in preschool, "Do you have everything?" became the question of the day. Before we left the house, I'd ask them, "Lunch box? Slippers? Snack? Special share thing?"
At pickup time, I'd ask the same questions. "Do you have your lunch box? Where are your slippers? Do you have my Tupperware container? Where's your Care Bear?"
After a while, I'd just ask one question, "Do you have everything?"
Asking the "question" was often coupled with, "Do you have to go shi-shi?" We lived in Hawaii Kai at the time, and preschool was in Makiki. That's a long drive for a 3-year-old bladder. You never want to hear a squeaky little voice from the back seat proclaim, "I have to go shi-shi NOW!" as you get on the freeway.
Every mother entering the training-pants stage can relate to the "clean toilet" syndrome. Between your home and every destination, you learn where all the accessible, clean toilets are located. Hopefully, you remember to tuck some tissue in your purse or you have some Handiwipes in your glove compartment, just in case.
Leaving Grandma's after a day of consuming every conceivable kind of snack (which you never had as a child) required asking the question again because Grandma always sent us off with a plastic produce baggie full of goodies to go. If the question was not asked, the child would remember somewhere near Aina Haina. Groan.
As said child got older, the basic question remained, although new items were added to the mix. Now, going to school meant remembering homework, projects and the oversize, overstuffed backpack. Never mind what was in the backpack. Never look in a child's backpack -- not because of privacy issues, but peace-of-mind issues. I don't want to see the bento box from last quarter. I'd rather buy another phys ed T-shirt than try to pry apart that gray mass at the bottom of the backpack.
NOW THAT BOTH children are grown, life is heaven. The daughter is now 25 and living in Los Angeles. All the nagging has paid off. She carries a bag big enough to carry a small child and has a fiance who picks up the slack.
The son just goes with the flow. He bristles when he remembers the time not so long ago that I asked him if he had to go shi-shi before we left Aunty Jean's house in Kapolei. It's now a family joke, and his cousins ask him and Grandma if they need to go shi-shi because Mom is packing up the wagon for the long ride to Liliha and Makiki.
Philosophically, I ask myself if we ever have everything. I could use a place in the country to get away from it all. I could use a dishwasher. Are these needs or just wants?
Looking around you and wondering whether you have everything you need as you walk out the door should give you pause to think. Having everything should translate to "If you can't carry it, you don't need it."
Sometimes having everything isn't what we can see or carry; it's the intangibles: family, friends. The next time I leave the house, I'll know that I do indeed have everything -- and I still remember where the clean toilets are between Makiki and Hawaii Kai.
When she's not mothering, Carol Chun works at Punahou School.
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