Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Leigh or Lady Gaga

I've spent several hours prepping for one of the biggest interviews of my life. I've fretted over what to say and what to wear, and prayed that I wouldn't do anything embarrassing -- to my son.

Yes, it's his friend who will be conducting the interview. I'm the special guest this week for the school news program, and I don't think I've ever been more nervous. And my son's not helping.

"We had a writer come work with us in our classroom all this week," he said.

"Oh, a writer like me?"

"No, a real book writer."


"I bet she doesn't write a weekly column," my husband said, helpfully.

"Yes," I agreed. "I'd like to see her come up with a topic each week. That reminds me, I need to come up with a topic this week!"

"She gave us some seashells," my son said.

Well, darn, I can't compete with that, I thought.

When I first informed my son that I had been approached about doing an interview for his local school news, he said, "That's quite an honor for you, mom," and he was right. I'm thrilled to have been asked to participate. I realize it's not a competition, but I think every parent wants her kids to think she has the best job. Or, in some cases, to just acknowledge that she has a job.

I took a test in kindergarten once, and afterward I remember the teachers calling my mother in to discuss.

"She's a bright child, but she missed this question," my teacher said.

"What was it?" mother asked.

"Well, we kept asking her what you did, and she said 'nothing' every time."

My mom, you see, was a stay-at-home mom at the time.

"Couldn't you have said that I vacuum and sew and cook and take care of you and your sister?" I remember her asking on the way home.

She's right. I should have said she had the hardest job in the world. Anyone who's ever met me will agree -- living with me is not easy!

Recently, my son questioned me about what I was going to say when I got on camera.
"I thought I'd tell them about the corporate communication work that I do in Atlanta and the executives I work with and ..."

"Mom, I think most people just care about what you write in the paper. I wouldn't even mention the other stuff."

"OK, son. Tell me about some of the other visitors."

"Well, we had one lady who sold medicine?"

"Medicine?" I asked.

"Yeah, you wouldn't really want to say that she sold 'drugs.'"

"Ah, a pharmacist. Who else?"

"Well, we had another man who used to be a principal. He was so funny. He made all of us laugh so hard; we could hardly ask any questions."

"What did he do?"

"When we asked what he would be if he had to choose another career, he jumped up, pulled on a toboggan and yelled, 'A downhill skier!' and acted like he was skiing," said my son, laughing so hard at the thought he had tears in his eyes.

Great! Humor, spontaneity. I can't compete with that, I thought.

"Well, don't expect me to do that," I said.

"You'll do fine, Mama," he said. "Just be yourself."

And, in the words of that certain former principal -- whom I confronted about being too funny and showing the rest of us up -- if that doesn't work, "Just pull out your wig and tell them you're Lady Gaga!"

I'll let you know which persona I choose.

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