Mom Advice: Deal With It!

In her own way, actress Vanessa Williams' mother showed her daughter how to learn life's tougher lessons.

Jody HewgillI had just traded up from my little-girl bike with the banana seat to a big-girl green six-speed. Since my cousin Gabby didn’t have a bike with her, she walked next to me. I figured when we were a few houses down the street on Glenwood Road, Gabby would jump on the newspaper rack over the back tire.

Mom knew exactly what I was thinking. “Don’t ride that bike with Gabby on the back,” she said. “It’s too dangerous. You could kill yourself. Take turns.”

I nodded, but was thinking, I can handle this.

A few minutes later, I hooked a right on the crescent-shaped road. “Jump on the back,” I told Gabby.

I pedaled furiously as we tore downhill, laughing as the wind whipped through our hair. It was exhilarating, until the handlebar started vibrating and the bike wobbled. The front tire slammed into a drainage ditch and I sailed over the bike, still holding the handlebar.

For a second, I was flying. Then my face, hands, and knees smashed into the pavement.

The pain in my mouth was unbearable, and I tasted blood. I felt around with my tongue and discovered a bloody gap in the front of my mouth. My tooth! I turned towards Gabby who was on the ground, holding her knee and moaning. Once we looked at each other, we started to wail. WAAAAH!!!!!!

Seconds later, it seemed, my mom’s car screeched to a stop next to us.

I wanted Mom to say, “Oh, my poor sweetheart! Let me hug you and everything will be fine.”

Mom slammed the car door.

“What have you done to your face? Vanessa, look what you’ve done!”

Mom wasn’t the huggy, touchy, “I love you, sweetie” type. Sometimes, I thought Mom was being unfeeling. But in her own way, she was holding me tighter than I could understand—she was teaching me the lesson I needed. You did it—deal with it, learn from it. One day, the consequences will be greater and I won’t be there to help you. Figure it out, Vanessa.

You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and her mom Helen Williams has just been published.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest