From WHOA to WAM and SOS, support groups are there

Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

It’s an idea whose time has come. Actually, the country’s been ripe for it since the oil crisis of the Carter administration, but I was young then and hadn’t twigged to it yet.

It came up when I bared my spleen to a new group of readers. “Of all the rooms in our house, my brain is most like the pantry. It’s cramped, chaotic and disorganized, and there aren’t nearly enough shelves,” I said. Like that, two things became apparent. One, I’d hit a nerve, and two, I wasn’t alone. And that’s when a light bulb flashed and inspiration struck like lightning in a trailer park.

“We’re starting a support group,” I announced. “It’s called WHOA, or Woolly Heads of America. You’re invited. Here’s your card.”

In an era where there are support groups for everything from bunions to xylophone addictions, why not? I mean it. Why not? Those with painful bladders have one. So do owners of dachshunds. And they all need each other. But so do the woolly heads. We need each other, too.

All of this reminds me of a group I joined years ago. It sprang from a late-night coffee discussion when one member shared a rodent horror story. That’s when WAM, Women Against Mice, was born.

It was my own Close Encounter of the Furred Kind that made me a hater. There I was, slumbering peacefully in a sleeping bag beneath the stars. And there it was, scrabbling on my leg with horrid little claws when I awoke on a Sabbath morn.

The scream that shattered the campground peace like crystal in an opera house was not (I confess it) Sabbath like. Neither was the snort when my dad said later, “He ran out on three legs—he was holding his nose with the other.” Thanks, Dad.

While WHOA and WAM were entirely voluntary, there’s another group I was thrust into through no choice of my own. When four tiny, squalling males took the exit ramp in Labor and Delivery, I automatically joined the MOB. Yes, I did. And I could tell you more about it, but then I’d have to shoot you.

Just kidding. We all know that’s how it works in “The Family.” But for a Mother of Boys, a “hit job” means something else. It means that someone is hitting someone else, and it’s up to me to stop it. With all that uproar, you can see why I was easy pickin’s for a group called Females Advocating Rest Times.

I’ll admit it. I hiccuped in surprise when that packet came and I noted their acronym. Just as I was deliberating over it, Someone shot Someone Else with the slingshot, and two others came to blows over the last cookie.

That pledge card was signed, stamped and halfway to Cleveland by the time their dad got home.

Brothers Undertaking Resistant Positions (BURP), is another club that’s big in these parts. Those boys can fight. Oh, can they ever. There were, you might recall, the infamous monkey wars of 2005. When one of them insisted on taking his entire collection of stuffed monkeys to bed, the explosion that followed made Mt. St. Helens look like a science fair project.

“I hate waking up with a monkey under my back!” an older sibling shouted, firing Curious George across the room. That was when the two-monkey rule was implemented, and an uneasy peace was brokered.

It’s not just Mr. Schrock’s sons, though. My own brother was a BURP member all the way. As the baby of the family (and the only boy), he just didn’t seem to understand the authority his two older sisters carried in his life.

He was a STINKER. Oops. I mean a stinker. He was that, alright, and ornery as all get out. Creative kid that he was, he loved playing pranks and getting the drop on us.

“Get lost, you little bugger,” we’d hiss. “Right there’s a tall tree and a short rope. Hop to it.” When he’d ignore these suggestions, along with our invitation to explore the Andes Mountains for, oh, say, a lifetime, we’d do what sisters do. We’d yell for Mom and rat him out.

Unfortunately, he took his BURP membership serious. Real serious, seeing as how he taught himself to burp the alphabet (I am not making this up) and drove us nuts with that.

Forget Morse Code. He could burp a message to you, one letter at a time, until you wanted to choke him. That, or laugh hysterically.

He’s all grown up now, though the stinker gene remains permanently embedded in his DNA. I’ve apologized to my sister-in-law who has to sleep like we did—with one eye open. “He didn’t get spanked half enough as a child,” I say. “I took the brunt of it, I’m afraid.”

She sighs, looking tired. I hand her membership applications for WHOA (she needs it) and the new group I’m starting, SOS, or Spouses of Stinkers. Because we all need each other. We sure do.

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