Your mother marks you first. Maybe you were too young to remember when you first suckled at your mother’s breast, or the first time she actively ignored your cries, doesn’t matter, the mark was being made. Criticisms and affirmations, facial expressions and that floppy footed gait of yours, all handed down from your mother. Generational preferences made for you before your mother even considered you. Hate them all you want, in the end, the density of your blood will eventually convince you to concede to the point where you wear that mark, reluctantly at first maybe, and then without shame.

My mother died ten years ago this coming September. When she died, my brothers and I instinctively looked to our father for some sort of comfort. All I remember finding was a man wrestling with his own grief and aside from an assortment of expiring condiments, an empty refrigerator. I remember the sadness of that refrigerator because I checked it out of habit, to see if there was any iced tea in it. My mother was a pretty heavy tea drinker, hot tea mainly, but she kept iced tea in the refrigerator too. The relatively large amount of empty cubic feet he had, compared to the small amount of condiments slowly expiring in his fridge, got to be kind of downer. It took me a while to figure out that the old man had no inclination to make any tea, and so I started making my own.

A pot of water, three large Lipton tea bags, and sugar to taste obviously. Other than the twenty-three chromosomes gifted to me, the taste for tea, and the ‘recipe’ lived on so to speak. Liking and making iced tea was/isn’t that big of a deal, but it was/is a connection to my mother that I found a bit of comfort in. I take comfort in mothers marking you first, mark you ’til the very end.

Five Songs I’ve Heard From Other Cars While Waiting for My Kids

For the last few months I have been given the freedom to pick up my toddlers from school. It’s one of those daily mundanities that keeps me from being a total slob and walking out of my house in flip-flops, basketball shorts and no deodorant on weekdays.

I tend to arrive about fifteen to twenty minutes before the kids get out. Generally, I try to read, listen to NPR, or thumb through various social media feeds on my phone. But every once in a while, my efforts to entertain myself are interrupted by the loud sounds pounding from other parents/guardians vehicles.

Now I can’t say for certain whether or not I might have done something like this in my younger days, but for the sake of this post, let’s assume I had the good manners and consideration for others and never engaged in such rude behavior.

Show the World – Lil Boosie feat. Webbie and Kiara – I didn’t turn around to see who was playing this song. Since Boosie’s release from prison, the radio seems to be doing its best to make sure this song pops. Personally, I hate this song, and my hatred extended to the driver of the car who was playing it.

Don’t Say Goodnight – The Isley Brothers A late model Jeep pulled into the parking lot one day with all four windows down blasting this song. It was actually kind of nice considering the sun was high in the sky, the breeze was blowing and everything else kind of matched the mood of the song, other than we were all about to pick up grade school children.

Wood Wheel – Underground Kingz A Camaro a couple of parking spaces over from the minivan played this loud enough so that the even with the windows up, I could hear the lyrics to this syrupy classic. Sure kindergartners were only separated by glass and a brick wall, but how else were they going to learn the song for the end of the year recital.

Love And Happiness – Al Green Some dude in one of those semi-fixed up pickup trucks came into the parking lot blasting this. When I heard it, I knew whoever was playing was mainly a blues guy. I mean, I don’t really know if he was mainly a blues guy, but it made sense when I thought it.

Licking Stick – James Brown This lady drives a beat up Ford Explorer, and for about a week she came up to the school windows down playing all manner of James Brown. She let this song finish one day while she sang along head bobbing with the somebody farted face. The only other artist I’ve heard her play was Zapp, so all things considered, she’s okay in my book.