The story I want to tell about my mama doesn’t really have anything to do with her southern-ness. Except that it happened in the South, and she’s southern. This is a story about tween girls misbehaving and the repercussions when we got caught by my mama. Good enough?
When I was in the 8th grade, my friends and I were obsessed with pot. We (cleverly, we thought) called it “fred” and discussed it on the phone for HOURS every night. Remember those days? Three-way calling. We would use two houses’ three-way so we could put four of us on the line. Yeah, we did that. I don’t think anyone in any of our houses got to use the phone in those days. We tied those lines UP. Anyway, we thought we were smarter than anything with our code word, our three-way calling, our cleverness. I guess it pretty much worked. Until I was an idiot.
Somehow (I don’t even remember how) we got hold of a little bit of weed. Not much, and Lord knows we didn’t have anything to smoke it out of – we made a pipe out of a metal kazoo – but we had a little bit, and we put it in an oregano spice jar, which we thought was hilarious. Around this time we had a big, out-of-town school trip. And I left the oregano jar, with the little bit of shake that we’d gotten from somewhere on my messy, tween bed. Off we went to lands unknown. And my mom, as any mom would, went into my bedroom to collect stray gross cups or dishes and to make sure I hadn’t left a candle burning or any other dumb thing I might have done. And she saw the oregano jar on the bed and, not being an idiot, she opened the oregano jar and found our weed.
When we got home from our trip, my mom, who had volunteered to get us off the bus and drive my friends home, was waiting. We traipsed off the bus, laughing and carrying on, to my mom’s car. And we loaded up our stuff and ourselves. And then my mom gave us a really, really stern talking to. She didn’t let us weasel out of the talk. She didn’t let us off the hook. She gave it to us straight. Telling us we were too young to partake, that we had disappointed her, that we needed to take care of our bodies and minds. I remember shaking I was so scared. She was caring and loving and very very definitive. She didn’t rat out my friends to their parents. She didn’t bring it up again. When I was in college we were talking about that day and I said, “Mom, what did you do with the pot?” and she said “Ariel, I was so upset I had to smoke it to calm down!”
That’s my southern mother. She has the most integrity of anyone I’ve ever met. And I love her beyond beyond.
*In light of recent events, I think it’s only right to recognize that this kinda cute, kinda dumb story is brought to you by privilege – #crimingwhilewhite made this a funny little anecdote, not a tragic one. For the rest of time kids are gonna make mistakes, and they’re gonna get in trouble. The scope of that trouble shouldn’t be determined by the color of their skin, or the zip code in which they live. My southern mother taught me about Social Justice, too.
By Ariel Ford