Thursday, May 10, 2012

MFF#6: Banished by Cristina Rehn

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challenge! Every story (600 words max) begins with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.
Cristina Rehn lightens things up today in this sweet story about a milestone every mother or father faces at some point in their child's life. Read on and feel free to share your own memories!
I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.  But here he stood, a mere kindergartner, banishing me from the birthday party. 
“You want mommy to leave?”  I made my mock shocked face, mouth round and eyes wide.  It never failed to produce a giggle.
James didn’t giggle.  His little blond crew-cut bobbed up and down.  “Yes Mommy.  It’s a kid party.”
He yelled to his best bud, Caden, the birthday boy.  Caden flailed a greeting, bouncing with that boundless boy energy.  I smiled at Caden’s mom, Julie.  She gestured at a balloon-topped table as she conferred with the be-pierced waitress who ran the bowling alley parties.
James unzipped his coat and wriggled away as I pulled it off.  He tossed it onto an orange plastic chair by the lanes.  I stepped towards the table of moms, all clearly settling in for the duration.  “See, sweetie.  Other mommies are here.  There’s Drew’s mom.”
I waved to the woman, a familiar face from years of daycare drop-offs and pick-ups.  She leaned over Drew’s feet to fasten the Velcro on his blue and red bowling shoes as she chatted on her cell phone. 
“Drew can’t eat peanuts.  His mommy even comes to parties at school, in case he needs his special ‘lergic pen.”  James crossed his arms and eyed me over the top of his tiny wire-framed glasses.  He resembled my father, the judge, staring down a lawyer who’d made a ridiculous motion.
I regrouped.  “Honey, you wanted me to stay at Lyssa’s party just last month.  You cried.”
“MOMMM!  That was summer.  I’m in kindergarten now.”  
I cringed inside as my darling baby rolled his eyes, an expression he’d learned from me.  I scowled at him.  James stared right back.  I dithered in the heat of his adorable scorn and logic.  “Well… if you’re sure.”
His face lit in a victory grin and he yanked me towards the gift table.  “The present goes here.  I’m gonna get the orange bowling ball.” 
James pulled away, but I tugged back.  Yet another mother was joining the diet cola klatch at the table.  I couldn’t surrender now, not when I was obviously the only parent under orders to leave.
“James, I really think I’m supposed to stay.  Sienna’s mommy is staying too. ” I pointed to the curly-haired, blue-eyed pixie hugging the newcomer’s leg.
His grin morphed into a solemn frown.  He wiggled his finger for me to bend closer and cupped a hand over my ear.  “Sienna’s afraid of potties that flush by themselves.”
How does he know that?  I heaved a sigh, defeated by epi-pens and auto-flush toilets.  James darted to the ball rack.  Dismissed and dismayed, I could no longer ignore the fact that one of us was too old for me to stay. 
I caught Julie’s eye. “Pick-up at four?”
She nodded and waved goodbye.  I gazed towards the mommy table.  Drew squirmed while his mother tucked in his shirt.  Sienna’s mom struggled to free her thigh from her daughter’s death-grip.  Jackson’s grandmother carried his bowling ball, sneakers and juice-box, trailing him like a personal assistant.
Caden and James rushed by in stocking feet.  They stood on tiptoe at the counter to request their bowling shoes.  I looked at the lane.  The orange bowling ball sat in the semi-circle at the end of the ball return, procured and waiting.  I called to him.  “Have fun, pumpkin.”
James glanced over with a heart-melting smile.  “Bye-bye, Mommy.”
I walked away, aching with sadness and pride.  Saying goodbye so soon hurt, but letting my boy grow felt great.
Cristina Rehn lives in Upstate NY with her husband, daughter and mother.  A full-time job, a full-time family  and two demanding cats don't leave much time for writing, so it's still a hobby.  She hopes someday she'll shine and polish up something enough to be published, but for now she just enjoys learning from other writers about both the craft and the business.  Her hobbies are writing and reading, and eking out as much solitude and silence as she can to do both.  Her daughter banished her from birthday parties years ago.


  1. Oh, that is just such the bitter-sweetness of my life, for the last several years… I love the line, "I could no longer ignore the fact that one of us was too old for me to stay." It's so true… Thank you so much. You've eloquently and visually depicted one of the beautiful and painful transitions of mother / childhood. A real treat to read.

  2. what a touching story. My daughter has aspergers and she is twelve, but she still hasn't banished me from parties. She wants me to come have lunch with her at school and I ask if other kids would laugh at her for still having her mommy have lunch with her in middle school and she says she doesn't care what they think, she loves me. I often wonder if she will always be like that.

  3. Definitely spoke to me too. My oldest is getting very independent at the ripe old age of 10. Yet, she refused to go to 4H camp this year because she didn't want to be away from home that long. Needless to say, I was happy that she doesn't hate me enough to want to go away...yet.

  4. I definitely was banished when my daughter hit kindergarten. On the plus side, she's nine and still likes to cuddle (as long as it's at home, where no other kids can see ;) ).

  5. This is a very nice story. I've been through all of those emotions, with four children. Now I'm watching my daughter struggle with it with hers. The nice part is that if you keep the doors of communication open throughout these periods as well as a watchful eye, and give them respect, you will receive it back later on when they realize that it can be a scary world out there, and Mom and Dad aren't so "dumb" after all. Thanks for sharing this story.

  6. I got a laugh out of your story from its real-life portrayal. With four children, I've had the 'go home mom' and the tears that came with 'don't leave me.'

    You did a great job with this.

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