photo-2I walk through the door. I hear crying and a stern talking to.

“It’s not Mommy’s fault. It’s yours. Sit there.” I have two seconds to turn around and pretend I haven’t come home, but the dog sniffs me out. Her bark and good-to-see-you wag alerts the world to my presence. Although in many key places in life I have the power of invisibility, this is not one.

“What’s Mommy’s fault?” I’m handed a note. One of those long notes that only a teacher who wishes she could write more composes. Two trees have died for this note. “Started off good…and then…” This note may be a draft of a Stephen King novel. The horror! “…unable to control…joking…Declan ate lunch with…” The Principal? 

“It’s all your fault, Mommy!” My fault? I get blamed for a lot of things–when the video games go wrong, if dinner tastes bad, student grades, lack of world peace, flaws in the time-space continuum. How is this my fault?

“You made Banana Man in my lunch and it ruined my day!”  I wrote a character face on the banana. Then, I labeled him “Banana Man.”  Literacy. Spelling. They’re Common Core State Standards. I aligned a banana with the standards. Isn’t that good parenting? Someone should give me a consulting job for that, not a note.

“You didn’t like Banana Man?” I put notes in his lunch. This was an edible note. Compostable. Good for the environment.

“I liked him and he made me laugh all day. Then I had to have lunch with the principal! And it’s all your faullllttttttt!” 

I say something about personal responsibility, about being a good boy. He keeps screaming he wants an apology. This is one of those moments where parenting is pointless, and no lesson about personal responsibility is on the docket. Finally, I give in.

“I’m sorry you weren’t able to control yourself and you had a bad day.” I walk away. I stick eyes and a smile to an apple. “Bad Apple” and put him where he’ll be seen. Then I create “Squash Monster” and take a sprouted sweet potato. I call him “Harry” and draw a quote saying, “It’s all Mom’s fault.” The only way, to defeat the effects of Banana Man is to distill them with other fruits. Distilled fruit’s always a good idea. A fruit inoculation. He’ll see this is ridiculous–the only one he has to blame is himself. Fruit can’t make a person have lunch with the principal.

He sees Bad Apple and suspects I might be mocking him. He is correct. He screams and throws the apple. He storms into his room.

photo-1All of a sudden, I see Mad Faced Potato near Squash Monster. He has begun to retaliate.

“There! How do you like it?” He’s mad.

“Usually mashed with butter.” He doesn’t understand, but thinks he’s won.

Soon, the kitchen is filled with emotional produce–happy, mad, sad fruit. “It’s still your fault, Mommy. We can only do this at home, not school.” I contemplate whether I’ll make Annoying Orange for lunch tomorrow. Best to leave it alone.

I have a few Banana Men in my life. Things I blame when I should look in the mirror, stop talking in circles and adjust course. I think all adults do. I look at the smiling fruit. When things go wrong, it’s not Banana Man’s fault. There are two options. Fix them, or decide they’re not that important, and move on.

Perhaps I’ll pack Annoying Orange for myself as a reminder, peel it, and get on with my life.


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