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GAIL WHITE Mothers' hearts bear the gifts of their kids



Published: Wed, May 23, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tina Bukovi, a native of Poland who now lives in Nevada, e-mailed me with a question that many mothers are asking themselves after this most recent holiday.

& quot;Just how long, & quot; she wants to know, & quot;does one have to wear a gaudy Mother's Day gift before it is OK to hide it in the jewelry box? & quot;

It is perplexing situations like this that tear at a mother's heart, battling between feelings of guilt and self-righteous indignation.

The & quot;It's Not Fair & quot; side argues that you are a mature, grown woman with eclectic taste in jewelry.

The & quot;Nurturing, Motherly & quot; side looks in the child's searching eyes, sees the expectation and says, & quot;I love it, & quot; while pinning the glued puzzle pieces decorated with colored macaroni to her silk blouse.

For Tina, the dilemma revolves around a necklace.

& quot;I have been sporting a silver-beaded necklace with big red lips on it for a week now, & quot; she laments. & quot;How could I not 'show it off' when my son said he got it for me so I would know he is always kissing me even when we are not together? & quot;

Where do children learn how to do that?

Those big, bright eyes: They say just the right words to pull at your heartstrings; double that up with a look of pure, innocent, adoring love and WHAM! Mom is wearing lips around her neck.

A lot of husbands could take lessons from this never-fail "wooing" that seems to come so naturally to children. (Then again, I shudder to think what we would be wearing if husbands caught on to this tactic.)

It is the irony of motherhood.

Mothers go to great lengths to teach their children to share, reminding them over and over on a daily basis to be kind and considerate of others.

Mothers spend days preaching the importance of honesty. & quot;Tell the truth, & quot; mothers urge little ones when caught in a lie.

We reinforce the lesson with sound reasoning -- & quot;If I catch you in a lie, I won't be able to trust you. & quot; We back up the lesson with a threat: & quot;The punishment will be worse if you lie. & quot;

Lessons in life: Mothers instill in their children the importance of being polite. Mothers insist upon & quot;Please & quot; and & quot;Thank you & quot; at every opportunity.

Constantly, we remind our charges with a knowing look and a stern, & quot;What do you say? & quot;

We want our children to share and to be honest and polite.

We do not want, wish or desire to wear macaroni on a string or silver beads with red lips.

Mothers are not particularly fond of ameoba-shaped pins with speckles or pipe-cleaner rings. Mothers are not even crazy about clothespin brooches or colored bean earrings.

But this is what mothers get.

And, in an even more ironic twist of motherhood, we love them.

Perhaps it is the considerate, honest, polite manner in which these treasures are given that touches our hearts and compels us to "show them off" -- a symbol of hope and reassurance.

Not alone: Worn like a badge of recognition, mothers acknowledge one another's & quot;badges & quot; with knowing looks and endearing grins.

Always, the story of what the child said is explained -- never embellished, always truthful, as mothers practice what they teach.

Eventually, & quot;It's not Fair & quot; wins out, and the gold and silver return.

Yet the & quot;Nurturing, Motherly & quot; side keeps the treasure in a special place along with the memory of the moment she received it.

Therein lies the answer to the silver-beaded hot lips e-mail question.

Though we are not subjected to wearing gaudy Mother's Day gifts forever, we must keep them forever -- just like motherhood.

gwhite@vindy.com




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