A note from Mommy

A long time ago when things got too tough, I’d get a note from my mommy. I appreciated my mother’s understanding that I needed a break every once in a while, and that she was on my side. “Please excuse Larry from PE today. He has had a sore throat and needs to avoid getting overheated.” Tormented by my sadistic gym teacher, Mr. “D,” such a note brought blessed, albeit temporary relief. On the other hand, “Please excuse Larry from today’s spelling test today. He threw up last night and we sent him to bed with no time to study,” was a predictable flop; I was sent to the nurse’s office instead.

Like most of us, from time to time I get frustrated and take it out on the world; sometimes that means I’m not nice enough to my wife. I get sarcastic or bossy, critical or impatient. Upon reflection, I realize I’ve been a jerk. I apologize, of course, and make amends, but it’s at moments like these I wish I could still get a note from my mommy.

It would read something like this: “Dear Norma: Please excuse my son Larry for his recent unpleasant behavior. He’s been under a lot of stress lately, working too hard and not feeling himself. I know he feels badly about what he’s done, and is making a real effort to be sure it doesn’t happen again. Thanks for understanding. – Sincerely, Larry’s Mommy.”

Alas, in adult life, there’s no one to make up our excuses. Left to fend for ourselves in a sometimes difficult world, we must confront the consequences of our own choices and behavior. Imagine how nice it would be to send a note like this: “Dear IRS: Please excuse Larry from paying taxes this year. He’s a hard worker, but the economy stinks and he just was not able to come up with the money. I know he’ll do better next year. He’s a good boy … really! – Thanks, Larry’s Mommy.”

When it comes down to it, everyone should be able to submit a small number of excuse notes per year. I think this is a basic right and should be added to the U.S. Constitution: “Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, and Two Notes from Mommy.” Call it the 2009 “cuttin’ some slack” amendment. Life is hard, after all, and everyone needs to be cut some slack every once in a while.
I’ve decided to create NoteFromMommy.com, where people can download excuse notes online.

There will be categories to choose from, like “Bad Behavior,” “Late Payments,” “Hung Over” and “Caught Speeding.” Users will be able to create new categories, too, as circumstances require, like “Yelp Insults” and “Inadvertently Deleted E-mail.” And the accumulated demographic data will contribute to national statistics on “slack” providing a basis for identifying trends of transgression. Over time, dissertations will be written and doctoral degrees will be earned. Best-selling books on excuses will be published. Social networks will build, support and self-help groups will proliferate, and a cabinet-level Department of Excuses and Forgiveness will dole out funds and generate many new high-paying jobs. Or, not.

Maybe I won’t get to any of this; I have kind of a sniffle and feel a bit tired. What I really want right now is my mommy.