Kid Stuff

c.jpgWhen I was a child (this is not the time to tell me how childish I remain), my mom decided that she had untapped talent in a certain area.

Ever hear the old expression, “your mamma dresses you funny”? My mother seemed to tried her best to live up to those words. I won’t say it was deliberate, but I can imagine my parents laughing in their bedroom after dressing me in one of my mom’s famous homemade outfits.

Mom decided to buy a sewing machine and try her hand at making creations for my sister and me. She would buy fabrics and patterns, and armed with much more determination than skill she would whip out outfits that she’d insist we wear.

As Catholic school students, we were already known as the nerd chicks on the block since we wore UGLY plaid uniforms to school every day. Now we had UGLY weekend uniforms to wear, courtesy of “House of Estella”.

Imagine an ugly blue plaid skirt. Really. Ugly. Plaid. Now imagine a matching vest cut in the “bolero” style to wear with a contrasting mystery material turtleneck blouse. Add a pair of thick white tights and then multiply it all by two.

Yes. Mom made ugly matching outfits for her girls to wear outside to play. She would stand there beaming as she’d ask us to “turn aroud, let me see” and then while grinning like a lottery winner, she’d walk us to the door and  watch  us  walk s  l  o  w  l  y down the block to where our friends were playing.

I wish I could say that our friends on the block were sensitive understanding and kind.  Sharon, David, and Georgette Dent (we always spoke of them as a collective),  and the rest of the gang would point and laugh and generally have a good time at our expense.

After hours of play, the kids would finally forget the joke of the day and we would all settle into whatever made up game we couldn’t get enough of. The “they might be having a good time vibe” would eventually reach my grandmother, who had a full time job stopping fun at any cost.

200 Street in Hollis, Queens is a pretty long block. We lived at 111-39 and the number next door was 4 digits higher or lower than ours, depending on the direction walked.

We would play way “down the block” at an address like 111-11 or 111-07.

Distance was NEVER a problem for Grandma Lambe in her quest to rob of us the joy of the moment.

She would yell out the window from her bedroom. The whole gang would freeze when the sound of her angry howl  slammed down the block to reached us. For some reason, my sister, Lynda was safe – it was me she wanted. Me.

My friends became a Greek Chorus, “Ooooooooooooooh.”

Dead.

Man.

Walking.

As I would slowly made my way back up the block, the list of my possible transgressions seemed to grow. I was scared to go home yet afraid to ignore my grandmother’s call.

I’d go to my grandmother’s bedroom door, listening to her fussing to herself as she bustled around her room. trying to gather the courage to knock.

“Come in!” she’d snap in response to my very weak tap on her door.

“Let me see your new outfit. Come here, girl.”

I shuffled into her bedroom, eyes down, awaiting her judgement.

“Hmmmph.” And then under her breath, “she still thinks she can sew I don’t see why she makes those gals up like little monkeys dressing up to go outside to play.”

I’d freeze in place – inner turmoil. Defend my sweet misguided mother and risk the wrath of Geneva or just take it and live to see another day?

Well folks, I’m still here so it’s obvious that my moms went undefended that Saturday morning.

Sorry Mommy.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Kid Stuff

  1. that was sweet and funny and damn it it brought back memories of my mothers attempt to sew, she was more into flowers and frilly than plaids but I did wear white tights with every outfit.

  2. my moma used to put me in fashion shows, s yep, she dressed me funny. lol. hay hon wanted to thank for the prayers and love for m family

  3. katrice0321

    Yep, my mom sewed the plaid skirts and vests too. The worst one had a pattern that looked like a blind woman put together the ugliest quilt in town and somehow sold the pattern to the fabric people. And pockets. God, there were pockets too.

    We may need therapy over this.

  4. I am SO GLAD that I wasn’t born a girl when I read stuff like this. Don’t get it twisted though; first my mother dressed me funny, then I took a spin at it as I wanted to dress “fresh” like Micheal Bivins….yeah….picture that. Just let it soak in real good. I had the airbrushed guess jumper, some assinine pastel colored shirt w/some SUEDE Reebok boots to match. DAMN YOU, BBD…DAMN YOU!!!

  5. My mother actually did use a pudding basin as a guide to cutting my wee brother’s hair. I spent most of my childhood looking like a bad 70s lampshade.

    Just keep telling yourself it was character building. That’s the only thing that works for me.

  6. 😉 don’t u love the stuff u can look back on and laugh (or cringe:-) at? i had sibs who were fairly fly so i got pretty good hand-me-downs … but my mom would embarrass me with stuff SHE wore! LOL!

    Hey Jali – at least u didn’t have to endure the stuff alone. I’m sure it’s made u a stronger woman today!!

  7. Awa

    Hi-LARR-US! My mom was real bad at dressing us weird in the early 80’s but by the time the 90’s rolled around, she became a bit more fashionable. I don’t know what she was thinking when she gave me a jheri curl in the 3rd grade. You can only imagine what the kids had to say about that.

  8. christina_the_wench

    I had blue suede shoes (literally) because I had bad feet and couldn’t wear tennies, and Mom thought polyester blue pants would be mistaken for denim by my friends as she sewed her little heart out.

    *cries*

    I feel you.

  9. My mom went through a “Sound of Music” jag for about three years, making our blended family of 6 girls (all steps except one) and one lonesome step brother dress alike in middy blouses (anyone remember those?) and a sailor suit for him. Good God in heaven, I had forgotten all about that until I read this post. Um, thanks?

  10. Lex

    You didn’t perceive your Grandmother as “on your side” when it came to the clothes?

    My mom didn’t sew, she just went to the thrift store to buy ugly shit that other mom’s sewed and finally decided to part with.

  11. Peachezz

    Hi,

    Lovet the story and brought back many memories. Know you went to St. Pascals…so did I and graduated in ’81. Would love to connect. Hit me up. You are really talented.

    KW

    Thank you for the kind words!

    I’ll come to visit your page a little later today. Wow! SPB!

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