Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Embarrassed (07/19/07)
TITLE: One Snotty Nose Away From a Straightjacket
By Kristen Hester
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I get everyone out of my car so we can walk my four-year-old daughter Elizabeth to her music class. The Music Center is located in an older, residential area of our town where many of the houses have been converted into businesses. I have my three-year-old son Evan by one hand and my two-year-old daughter Erica by the other. Elizabeth is tagging along behind us.
I’m desperate for adult conversation so when my friend Shelley calls my name from the window of her SUV, I drag my kids over to her car so we can chat.
As we talk, Danny, a father whose daughter is in the class, walks past us with his child in tow. It’s eighty-nine degrees and May, but his daughter is wearing a red and green Christmas sweater over a pink ballet leotard and tights. On her feet are swim shoes and on her head is a large purple hat. Who lets their child dress like that in public? I’d be so embarrassed.
I feel a tug on my pants. “I have to go potty,” Elizabeth says.
“Just a minute,” I respond and then quickly return to my conversation with Shelley.
“Have you met Doris, the new elementary principal’s wife?" Shelley asks me.
“I really have to go,” Elizabeth interrupts with a little more urgency. I continue to ignore my child, an acquired skill at which I have considerable talent.
“Yes. Her son is in Elizabeth’s music class,” I answer. And he is a holy terror. If I were his mother, I’d be so embarrassed.
We continue our conversation until Danny urgently calls my name. “Look!” He points to the sidewalk leading up to the Music Center. Elizabeth is sitting on the potty chair I carry in my car for emergencies. She has gotten it out of my mini van and placed it right in the path of all the arriving parents and children. Her pants are down around her ankles and she is casually doing her private business in public view of everyone. If she had a newspaper, she’d look just like her daddy.
“Oh no!” I yell. I run to retrieve my rebellious daughter as Shelley drives off with an apologetic look on her face. Elizabeth looks up at me and smugly says, “I told you I had to go.”
“Don’t forget to wipe,” I mutter. She finishes up and then sashays into her class with her head held high. I pick up the potty chair and head to my car with my head hung in shame.
My face is still red from the incident as I drive to a nearby park so Evan and Erica can play until time to pick up Elizabeth. The ground at the park is wet from rain, but after the potty humiliation I don’t have the energy to care. Evan swims around in the huge puddles, getting completely soaked.
When I return to pick up Elizabeth, I realize I have a problem. Parents are asked to join their child for the last 15 minutes of class, but Evan is too dirty to go inside. Since the music class takes place in the front room of the old house, I give Evan strict instructions to sit on the porch and not move. I’ll only be few feet away, just on the other side of the door.
I sit on the floor with Elizabeth in my lap, Erica by my side, and my back to the door. We’re singing Have you ever seen a Lassie? when I see the eyes of all the parents sitting in front of me simultaneously widen in shock and amusement. I turn around to see that Evan has pushed open the door is standing there completely naked. I jump up, find his clothes, and begin redressing him.
“That’s even funnier when you know what Elizabeth did before class,” Danny says to me. I’m not seeing the “funny” in the situation.
“I’d be so embarrassed,” I hear Doris whisper to another parent as she leaves with her completely dressed son politely at her side.
I’m glad they don’t know my earlier thoughts about them. That would be embarrassing.
Now, where can I find a straightjacket?
Author’s Note: Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.
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