It’s Sunday morning, 7am. My phone jiggles and a Doja-cat ringtone jars me awake. It’s Kim asking if we want to set out for some frisbee golf - you have to tee-off early on the weekend to avoid the rush. “No, I moan, not today” I say, licking my emery-paper dry lips and trying to focus my eyes on the giant LED numbers of my alarm clock, “Leong and I got shot,” I add for maximum dramatic effect.
Later, about 11am. I’m lead-ball tired and so is Leong. My arm hurts so bad I can hardly lift it. Leong says hers does too. We’re kind of binging “Riverdale” but, in reality, we’re curled up, blanketed, and surrounded by pillows on the living-room sectional couch, napping off and on.
It’s slightly odd, being at home again with my mom, who used to manage everything about me. She knew when I should go to bed and get up, what vegetables and fruit I ate. She knew my teachers, who my friends were, when I had homework due, or needed a dental cleaning, when I had a doctor's appointment (although she really was my doctor), how I was feeling, if I had my period, when I took a bath, when my sheets needed changing - everything.
Now my mom has her brakes on - I can see her sometimes, flexing to comment on something, like our plan to go to the pool party the other night at 11pm, but stopping herself.
I guess I’m a different (university sophomore) me and she’s a different (more hands off) her.
Leong’s very Chinese-respectful around my parents. She calls my mom “mamma” and Step (my stepfather) “baba“ and practically comes to attention whenever they address her.
They’re just parents,” I say, denigratingly, “relax.” She nods, she’s trying.
Early yesterday (Saturday) morning, Leong and I were in the kitchen, at a round table, deep in our kitchen bay-window area, where we’re surrounded by plants and hanging ferns. My mom was making us a pancake and bacon breakfast (yum!), which was lovely, in theory, but Leong and I were badly maimed (hung over) - which I’m willing to bet she guessed. The night before we went to a high school graduation throwdown.
“Do you girls have plans for tomorrow?” My mom asked, as she transferred several pancakes from a frying pan onto a baking sheet in the oven.
“Nothing in particular, why?” I replied, as I looked up to eye-drop my seemingly sandy eyes.
“You’re going overseas in less than two weeks and I’d like to have you two covid boosted before then. You might feel tired or sore the next day,” she said, as she flipped her latest set of four pancakes in the frying pan, “so getting them today would be ideal.”
I look to Leong, to check her reaction and she shrugs with her coffee cup to her lips.
“Ok,” I say, “sure.”
“Leong,” my mom begins, “do you need to check with your parents?”
“Mom!” I almost shout, reacting harshly. I’m hung-over, mercurial, and embarrassed that she’s treating Leong like a child.
“No, Mamma” Leong says, looking at me, frowning - stepping over my outrage, solicitously - both answering the question and calming me down at once.
My mom transfers the latest batch of pancakes to the oven, where there’s now a flat baking pan piled with them. She closes the oven, flicks off the gas burner, picks up a silver tray that was lying on a side table, covered with a kitchen towel, and comes over to us.
She lifts the towel and we see two covid booster syringes and alcohol wipes.
“Now?” I say, slightly alarmed (I’m not a big fan of shots).
She raises one syringe to the light for a brief inspection and taps it twice. She cleanses my right arm with an alcohol wipe, gently pinches an area and injects me with one quick, smooth motion - I hardly feel it. She steps around to Leong, who’s also sleeveless, and repeats the process with the other syringe.
And just like that, we’re all boosted, in less than a minute. She hands us both our updated covid cards and says, "Alexa, announce breakfast is ready.”
Doctor moms can be handy.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Mercurial: "rapid, unpredictable changes in mood”