What’s a Mother to Do?
by Ann Edwards Cannon

Chapter 26
How to Enhance Your Own Self-Esteem 

[p.79]I don’t know about others, but I personally believe that being a parent during the Middle Ages was a whole lot easier than it is today. I cite the following reasons:

1. You only had to bathe your kids once a year.
2. You didn’t have to nag them about brushing and flossing, mainly because nobody had teeth.
3. They got married and left home by the time they were seven years old anyway.

Even our own parents had it easier, especially in the summer time. Basically, this is what my mom did during the summer. She made us get up and do our chores. Then she let us watch Let’s Make a Deal while making us bologna sandwiches for lunch. After lunch she made us go outside and hang around with the other neighborhood kids. The boys hung around on one side of the street saying the girls had cooties and the girls hung around on the other side of the street saying we were rubber and they were glue and whatever they said bounced off of us and stuck to them and so forth. Girls always get the best of boys in these types of verbal exchanges, don’t you know.

Occasionally, if it was too hot, we went into my best friend’s basement and lip-synched our way through her stack of 45’s. Our favorite was “These Boots Were Made for Walking.” We sang into the ends of her mother’s yardsticks while pretending we were wearing black fishnets and white lipstick.

That’s how it used to be. We parents of the 1990s, on the other hand, are expected to do all kinds of things for our kids until they leave puberty, which according to the latest U.S. census now lasts until age forty. During the summer, for example, we’re supposed to run our kids to five billion classes all day long. In return, they are obligated to teach us computer illiterates how to (a) find a book at the library now that the card catalogues are gone and (b) get to the next board of Super Mario.

[p.80]Of course, the most important thing we as parents are expected to do is to build our children’s self-esteem—and that is one task, frankly, I don’t mind doing. I was just thinking the other day, however, that it would be kind of nice if we grown-ups could enhance our own self-esteem while we were at it.

“How can I enhance my personal self-esteem?” I asked Ken.

“I thought that’s why we have dogs,” he said. “You’re always telling everyone how smart they make you and me look by comparison.”

“Very true,” I observed. “You can bet that we never leap out of car windows at red lights.”

I was, of course, referring to the last time Ken took all three dogs to the groomer’s. When he stopped at the light on North Temple and Third West, Basil, who is the (a) youngest and (b) dimmest of the pack, decided to make a run for it, so he jumped out of a partially rolled-up window and legged it over to the Triad Center parking lot where he streaked around like your garden variety greased pig. Ken, naturally, pulled over and proceeded to give chase until he managed to subdue said dog with the aid of three women in high heels who were looking for their car.

“Dogs are great when it comes to making you feel smart,” I went on, “but what I want is a pet that will make me feel like a total babe.”

“What about another cat?” he said.

I guffawed. “Are you kidding? Cats are the fourteen-year-old girls of the animal kingdom. Pure snots. I’ve lived with enough cats to know that all they do is sit around all day long and criticize the way you combed your bangs”

“Well, what about a goldfish?”

“Get real,” I said. “Goldfish don’t even know they’re alive let alone that I’m alive.”

Which is why, in the end, I decided to buy a cockatiel.

We had a cockatiel when I was growing up. His name was Sam, and he used to do big-time wolf whistles every time my mom and I walked into the room. Needless to say, we thought he was a completely charming bird even though he drew blood anytime someone tried to feed him.

So I went to Western Garden, picked out the bird I thought would be most likely to affirm my babehood, and brought him home. His name is Poirot, and he sits in the corner of my kitchen, whistling [p.81]his heart out every time we make eye contact, which, as you can imagine, enhances my self-esteem like crazy.

I’m also trying to teach him how to talk. Nothing fancy at first, just a simple “Ann’s a babe.” If he masters that, we’ll move on to slightly more complicated phrases such as “oh, you beautiful doll,” as well as “ham and cheese, ham and cheese, Ann’s the one with sexy knees.”

Naturally, I’d be more than happy to keep you posted on his progress.