Proof That Mom’s a Genius

Posted October 19, 2013 by jimhigley


Say hello to Aunt Connie and Uncle Hank. They were my dad’s aunt and uncle but, because I grew up without grandparents, they always felt more like grandparents to me. And because they lived a short drive from my childhood home, they were regularly recruited to stay overnight when my parents took an occasional trip. Which always resulted in stories. Including learning how to roll cigarettes with Uncle Hank. And Aunt Connie’s tendency to confuse the cinnamon sugar shaker with the pepper (easy to do because my mom kept the sweet stuff in an old salt-and-pepper container). I still have an occasional flashback about having to eat Aunt Connie’s scrambled eggs topped with cinnamon sugar. Try it sometime. You won’t forget it either.

Good folks. And good memories.

But there’s another good memory in that picture. It’s the intercom on the wall right above them.

This was the sixties and seventies and an intercom system was high-tech James Bond stuff. The main monitor was in our family room and it connected to smaller intercoms located in every room throughout the house. And with five boys roaming around, my mom learned to use this technological wonder effectively.

She also used it for everyone’s wake-up call.

“Good morning boys! Time to wake up!” After which she’s blast music in bedrooms to drag weary bedheads down to the kitchen table.

This intercom played a central role in many family memories – including routine eavesdropping between brothers and failed attempts to scare trick-or-treaters at the front door.

This intercom is also how I discovered that my mom was a genius.

I was eight and my parents were about to put an addition on our house – right behind that wall with the main intercom monitor. That meant that the intercom had to move about six feet to the left so a large opening could be made. Simple in concept. but the intercom stood in its way.

And Mom was not about to lose her intercom.

So the electrician sent out his apprentice (aka his son, Billy) to handle the simple job.

Well, Billy took off the cover of the intercom, fiddled inside the thing for a bit, and looked at my mom and said, “There’s no way I can move this. It looks like NASA in there!”

He suggested having his dad come out the next day to handle the project.

Well that didn’t work with my mom’s plans. The wall was scheduled to come down that afternoon. And she was clearly determined to make sure that happened on-schedule.

Using her well-honed “come-on-son-you-can-do-it” mom skills she encouraged a very reluctant Billy that he could handle the job – promising her help along the way. Her solution to the myriad of wires Billy was convinced he’s never keep straight was masking tape. And notes. Which she promised to oversee.

And like a surgeon (my mom) and her assistant, they methodically took apart the guts of that intercom. Wire by wire. Each one receiving a piece of masking tape to which my mom included a handwritten note. A reminder as to where it needed to be reconnected.

I was the surgery nurse, handing my mom small pieces of tape. One after the other. I had watched this woman do countless things in life. But I had never seen her do anything quite like this. In this moment, I was watching the equivalent of open-heart surgery.

“That’s the last one!” she said to Billy.

Thrill filled the air.

And continued to fill it during the next hour as Billy moved the remaining wiring left in the wall to the new location – preparing the patient for the second half of the procedure which, once again, my mom oversaw with masterful ease.

Wire by wire. Guided by her reminder notes written on those pieces of masking tape. A monumental task broken down to its individual steps.

And then it was time for Billy to attach the front cover.

Then Mom flipped the power button.

The green light appeared.

The room-by-room tests went off without a hitch.

And my mom officially gained her “Genius” badge from this eight-year-old.


This memory is brought to you through my partnership with Kimberly-Clark during the months of September and October. It’s part of their Pick Up the Values Program– providing tips and ideas for parents to stretch their budgets.

Today’s Pick Up the Values Tip for Stretching Your Budget involved technology – a tip my mom would have nailed! : Do as much research and price comparison online as possible. Your time is valuable so the more you learn before you leave the house the better.  And who knows, you might even find the best pricing deals – including shipping costs – online! 

Be sure to stop by the Pick Up the Values Facebook Page for more tips and conversations!

Rest assured, while I’ve been compensated by Kimberly-Clark for this story, the memory, and belief in their product is as real as it comes.