In everyday life, we often encounter people who are in the wrong job. Sometimes it’s because they are incompetent, other times because their talents would be put to better use elsewhere.
One of our local radio stations features this complete pair-of-clown-shoes-of-a-man named Jonathan as the morning DJ. Someone must have told him once that he was funny and he believed it. Here are two examples of his “jokes”:
“Kim and Kanye West are having a baby boy. Maybe they could name him South West and save on airfare.”
“That song was ‘Why You Gotta Be So Rude?’ People don’t ask me that. They ask, ‘Why you gotta be so dude?’”
I hate him so much. The worst part? He pauses for laughter. As if I’m going to be guffawing in amusement so loudly that I will miss his next gem. It took me a while to figure that out. The first few times I just assumed he had dropped dead in the studio. (I should be so lucky.)
Now, I’m no expert in broadcast media but I would assume the job of a DJ is to amuse or at least interest people so they don’t change the station.
And I know just the people for the job: Sandra and Bernice from the Food Lion.
Sandra and Bernice are goddesses among women who work the cash registers weekday mornings. They treat everyone like a long-lost friend and know each other well enough to banter like sisters. I could listen to them all. day. long.
Sandra: It’s a beautiful day out there, sweetie, isn’t it?
Bernice: Sure is.
Sandra: I’m feeling blessed. I might even have a cup of wine tonight.
Bernice: A cup? You mean a bowl.
Sandra: I’m gonna watch the season finale of “Dancing With the Stars.”
Bernice: I love that show.
Sandra: I’m gonna cook up some ham, roast some potatoes and make me a little garlic bread.
Guy Behind Me In Line: Can I come?
Sandra: Of course you can, sugar! You get some paper plates and come on over.
Bernice: We have to bring our own plates? What kind of restaurant is this?
The above doesn’t even do them justice, you gotta see them live. That old expression “I could listen to her/him/them read the phone book?” It’s so true in this case:
Sandra: And now we’re on to Smith, John.
Bernice: Sugar, there are a lot of those! You might want to settle in.
Sandra: You’d think their mamas and daddies would come up with something a little more original, like Jared or Kevin. Oh well, pour me a cup of wine and let’s get going.
Now, there is a point to all this and it’s not just to disparage Jonathan, who let’s face it, deserves nothing less than a slow, agonizing death.
It’s to say that as you grow older in life, you start to recognize the areas in which you are a Jonathan, and those in which you are a Sandra and Bernice.
When it comes to being a mom, I often feel like a Jonathan: completely out of my depth.
It’s not because of their conditions. I was a nervous wreck way before they were diagnosed, the kind of mom who checks her kids’ breathing every five minutes and refuses to sleep herself because she has this irrational belief she can stave off SIDS by not closing her eyes.
But their special needs do require a level of calm and parenting confidence I have to work very hard to cultivate.
The Sandra and Bernice in this case would be my two older sisters. I’ll call them JoJo and Polly because, well, why the hell not.
JoJo and Polly are two of the most laid back mothers you will ever meet. To give you a little perspective, Polly has three children under the age of six (the big idiot) and she hasn’t strangled a single one.
I know, right???
JoJo has a teenager who is one of the most pleasant, kind-hearted adolescents you will ever meet, in large part because her mother has given her just the right mix of boundaries and leeway.
Whenever I am having a Jonathan moment as a mother, I call my very own Sandra and Bernice and they walk me through it.
As an infant my son never stopped crying, probably because my anxiety was annoying the s—t out of him. JoJo, who had much more important things to do (namely course work for the master’s degree she was earning from HARVARD, not that I’m bragging), spent hours on the phone assuring me he wouldn’t dehydrate from shedding so many tears and that no, he most likely was not having a stroke.
Polly is a nurse, so she has always been my 1-(800)-OH-SH*T! hotline for medical questions.
This has been especially true with Charlie and her cancer. The morning my daughter’s tumors were discovered, I was caught completely off guard and was in one of my rare “I can handle this” moments.
I mean, yes, my daughter was having an MRI to figure out why she wasn’t hitting all the right developmental milestones for a 16-month-old. And yes, watching your child being put under anesthesia is upsetting. But her brother had undergone the same test at her age for the same reason. The doctors found nothing life threatening and were confidently able to diagnose him as having autism a few months later. As far as I was concerned, the hardest part of this would be the test itself, and then we could go back to normal.
So when I received a call from Charlie’s neurologist a few hours after the scan saying they had found “abnormalities,” I went ice cold with terror. She wanted to talk in person so I called my husband, bundled the kids into the car and then called Polly on my way to the doctor’s office.
“It means cancer, doesn’t it?” I asked in sheer and utter panic.
Polly didn’t lie to me but somehow she kept me from freaking out even more. She is most likely the reason I didn’t crash the car on the way there with my two babies in the back, as she stayed on the line, talking to me in a calm and soothing voice.
It was like she was my big sister or something.
I only found out later that the second she hung up she dissolved into a crying heap on the floor. That she held it together for me is incredibly touching and I will always be grateful.
To be clear here, I’m not saying my sisters are better people than I am. They did glue my hair to the refrigerator once. And they’re not necessarily better mothers. We all have our own gifts and I definitely bring a little somethin’-somethin’ to the motherhood table.
But if there were ever a “Sandra and Bernice” award for calm and confident parenting, my sisters would win it hands down.
Oh, and I’m starting a petition to have the real Sandra and Bernice replace Jonathan on the radio. Care to sign?