Remember Highlights, the kid’s magazine? Yeah. I loved Highlights, especially the Hidden Pictures. But the part of Highlights I remember the most was Goofus and Gallant. Goofus was rude. Gallant was polite. Goofus stole things. Gallant respected the property of others. Goofus lit the cat’s tail on fire. Gallant was always kind to animals. And on and on.
My mother (may she rest in peace) was Goofus. She would throw things and curse like a sailor when she was angry, instead of taking a deep breath and speaking rationally.
She would get stupid drunk at family get-togethers, instead of sipping a nice glass of wine and playing charades.
She would leave dirty dishes in the sink for days instead of cleaning up promptly after each meal.
I remember knowing my mother was Goofus from a very early age and begging her to read me the Goofus and Gallant part of Highlights multiple times every month hoping that she would learn that it was bad to scream, “Up your keester for Easter!” at our parish priest when he visited the house.
Every Mother’s Day, as kids, my sister and I would stand at the drugstore card rack and crack up at all the “You’re the best mother in the world” flowery cards and wonder, “Who sends these?? and wonder where the cards were that said, “You’re probably doing the best you can with what you’ve got Mom, but it just ain’t cutting it. Keep trying. Better luck on the “Mom” thing next year.”
Subsequently, I never really got into “Mother’s Day.” My daughter knows this and just humors me. I don’t want flowers or balloons or brunch or flowery cards.
Instead, I will just think of others. Stay clean. Recycle. Be prompt. Be kind. Be decent. Be thrifty. Be generous. Take turns. Help out. ‘Fess up. And when I see a cat’s tail on fire, I will promptly put it out.
(Dude, I know how to be Gallant.)