I don’t like surprises.
Well, it’s a bit deeper than that – I scornfully, loathsomely abhor surprises with every fiber of my being. Yes, that more accurately describes it.
When I was young, I cried when anyone yelled surprise, yet there was nothing surprisingly traumatic about my pleasant childhood. It is just part of my DNA. And don’t get me started on surprise parties. I have as much use for them as I do fingernails on a chalkboard. When I was 16, my friends threw me a surprise Sweet 16 party. Not only were there no celebrities, tiaras, wardrobe changes like there are in the MTV world of My Super Sweet 16, but there were NO BOYS. Enough said about that disaster of a surprise party. The years containing endless surprise showers – housewarming, bridal and baby, where my best friends told me we were going running; I showed up in lycra and a baseball hat while fifty well dressed people waited in a hall with make-up on. I hadn’t even put on deodorant. I will let you throw me a party, please just let me know so I can look my best or at least half-way decent.
I’ve always relished a plan, thought spontaneity was overrated and found crossing items off a to-do list extremely arousing. No room in my life for surprises. In so many ways my 40s are about routine; don’t screw with the f*cking routine. Rather than enhancing my life, surprises derail it by interfering with the carefully orchestrated movements of my day. If the drycleaning doesn’t get picked up, it’s catastrophic, like finding another wrinkle on that last bit of smooth skin.
I was a very trusting person my whole life and even back then, I hated surprises. Now after a few years of surprises delivering only lousy news, I greet every surprising phone call or knock on the door with alarm and anxiety. This attitude is not a big hit at parties.
My kids on the other hand love surprises. Even my 15 year old wants his presents hidden on his birthday and my daughter, BG, coerced her highschool boyfriend of more than a year, whom she knew she was going to prom with, to ask her in some monumental manner and the surprise captured for YouTube perpetuity. The 11 year old wants me to amaze him in the morning with varied wake-up techniques and breakfast goodies, meanwhile I’m like, get your sorry 5th grade ass out of bed and be on your way.
Although my kids love surprises, their surprises are usually of the problem nature. BG’s unanticipated phone calls from college involve various expensive issues (her car got towed again, shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, now should it?); I log onto my 15 year old’s parent portal to peruse his grades with the same trepidation as a foreclosure after an A+ in Biology fell to a D- last semester when he neglected to hand in a project which counted for two test grades. Surprise – 2 test grades! Don’t think he likes surprises too much either. My 11 year old thankfully only has 11 year old problems but he has been in trouble for talking in class so much lately, I foresee a call from the Principal announcing he has escalated his troublemaking by pulling the fire alarm or describing a scene from South Park (which he isn’t allowed to watch but surprise! he sneaks in a minute of it behind his brother’s back). A minute or two of South Park is more than enough to get yourself in trouble in 5th grade.
Surprisingly, yesterday I received a surprise wrapped with all the angelic sincerity of why surprises are meant to be treasured.
My family came for brunch in the morning. I was not surprised they stayed all day, how funny the stories they told or my elderly aunt’s comments about the messy state of my garage. It was late afternoon and I was busy cleaning up – no time for surprises. My husband and son left for a soccer game so it was just my 11 year old who surprise! had disappeared so he wouldn’t have to swifter. I heard him rummaging around in the basement and was about to yell at him when he bounded up the steps beaming with the S word; his hands held something tightly behind his back. Uh oh! Doesn’t he know how much I hate the S word. He instructed me to sit. I prepared for the worst.
He presented me with an unwrapped box which clearly came from a store not something handmade at school. As my mind immediately jumped to him serving 2 – 3 years for shoplifting, he excitedly blabbed his story. Last week, he ran back and forth to my neighbor’s garage sale returning to our house with various worthless items to add to my already messy garage. He showed me each item with much flourish before running back to purchase something else. At some point, he must have bought my present, sneaked home and hid it in the basement. For a week, he has been busting with his surprise, finally he couldn’t take it anymore and gave me my Mother’s Day present a day early.
It was a set of frosted green glass coasters, hideous by my neighbor’s standards as she was looking to dump them at her garage sale, which caught RD’s keen eye. Everything about the surprise was gallant and thoughtful. Nothing they will give me today (I already saw the Town Jeweler’s bag in my husband’s closet) will match the affection accompanying those coasters.
If you want to surprise me with Ryan Gosling for Mother’s Day, I am more than okay with that, but if not, I’ll contentedly place my diet coke on my stunning coaster while writing on my back porch. Surprisingly perfect.
Happy Mother’s Day.