My Mom Believed That “B” Stood for Bad
“Mother’s love is the fuel that allows a normal human being to do the impossible.” –Marion C. Garretty
Grades are Black or White
My mother never graduated high school. My mother’s family was depending on her to help lift the family out of poverty using education. She was both intelligent and beautiful, an amber-eyed beauty that figured things out for the family. It didn’t happen. Instead, the bad environment won. She had me delaying the family come-up for at least a generation.
My mom believed her children were brilliant. She saw her intelligent children as the fulfillment of the middle-class dreams for the family. Report card time at our house was black and white. There were no shades of grey. Either you had all “A’s” and life was good, or you had something else, and life was not so good.
I always fulfilled the all “A” expectations. Both my younger sister and brother were as bright and focused as I was. I had the advantage of being almost five years older than my siblings. I was, however, rebellious like my mother, so I had a challenging time once I proceeded to eighth grade. They had doubled me through two grades of my school classes, skipping both the third and the fifth grades. I was a twelve-year-old with fourteen-year-olds. I was easily the smartest kid in class.
Report Card Deception
Our family experienced a conundrum. My parents were having issues: my mother was drinking and demanding excellence in school. As the oldest and a girl, my workload at home increased as my mom had problems; my rebellious self responded by not doing my homework at home. I would do my homework in my first class of the day. I did not turn in any assignments in the first class (History). When my report card came out, I had all A’s with one B in history. Being me, I took a pen, tried to erase the B, and put an A in its place. I thought the edit looked pretty darn good. I waited until my mother was drinking to give her the report card to sign. My mom took the report card, signed it, and gave it back to me. “Whew, dodged a bullet; I got away with that one,” I thought. “Thank goodness.”
How did I know my ass was grass? My mom was “dressed to kill.” She had on a beautiful blue pants suit, her blue hat with the netting pulled down over one eye, matching blue heels, and a pop of color with lighter colored cream earrings. Her make-up was perfect, and she looked just like Diana Ross.
Called to the Office
Nope. The next day, in the middle of the day, they called me to the office. Standing in the doorway was my mom. How did I know my ass was grass? My mom was “dressed to kill.” She had on a beautiful blue pants suit, her blue hat with the netting pulled down over one eye, matching blue heels, and a pop of color with lighter colored cream earrings. Her make-up was perfect, and she looked just like Diana Ross. Her being dressed up meant she planned to meet with my teachers.
Standing next to her was the History teacher. Lying on the counter was my altered report card. I froze before I came into the office and just stood there. The teacher waved me in. I didn’t move. I heard the click, click, click of Mom’s heels as she moved toward me. I wanted to run; where could I run? I realized in a flash I would eventually have to come home or join a circus on its way out of town.
Facing the Mom Music
I think my mother must have walked out, grabbed me, and pulled me into the office. I don’t remember.
I know I was asked if I changed the history grade. I lied. I remember my head snapping forward as my mom hit me in the back of my head. She asked again. This time I told the truth. Yes. I altered the card. You would think the history teacher, or the principal might intercede but, duh, no. Both had disappeared. There was only my mama and me in the office. I started crying.
M mother whispered to me. “Do I look like Boo Boo the Fool to you? You changed the grade and acted like I will not see it. Just wait until you get home.” I tried to explain that I had too much to do at home, but mom did not want to hear it. “I don’t care if our house is on fire, you won’t miss another homework assignment, you book smart, but I’m street smart. B stands for Bad. I don’t have any dumb children. Do you understand me?” With that, she hit me in the back of the head again. This would not get better soon. I stood there vigorously shaking my head yes.
The teacher and principal suddenly reappeared. I was a mess. I had a tear-stained face, snot hanging out my nose, my hair was a mess, and I had a bopped upside the head headache. My mother was still looking as good as when I first saw her standing in the doorway. She announced to the teacher and principal, “We won’t have any more problems with this one.” They sent me back to class all messed up. Being called to the office was never a good thing. I didn’t even try to front.
When I got home, I made an excellent example for the younger children. My mother set a kitchen timer and whipped my butt with a belt until the timer rang. She also beat my butt the next day when I got home because I had embarrassed her. I got all A’s the following semester. Who cared what was going on in the evenings? I got the homework done.
I am also forced to admit that I once snapped and said those exact words “B is for Bad” to my children when they brought home less than all A’s. I did not, however, set a butt whipping timer on them. Instead, the video games were put away for a month. They got no more Bs.
My mom’s technique worked. We have been blessed. Education has leveled our family up — all six of us are decent human beings and successful professionals. Bachelors, Master’s Degrees are expected and routine. PhDs are becoming common in our family. We have engineers, college professors, teachers, PhDs, and entrepreneurs. Mom was right. No excuses accepted. B is for Bad.
Toni Crowe retired to pursue her dream of being a writer. Toni has written six books. Her bestselling business book, ‘Bullets and Bosses Don’t Have Friends’ won a Gold Readers Award.