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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Embarrassed (07/19/07)

TITLE: One Snotty Nose Away From a Straightjacket
By Kristen Hester


I am one snotty nose away from needing a straightjacket. It’s been a typical morning of temper tantrums, sibling rivalry, and spilled milk. I park along the street and do a head count. One-two-three. At least I didn’t forget anyone.

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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This article has been read 1166 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Roome 07/26/07
After having 5 children in 8 years, I fully identify with this. Funny, embarrassin and well written.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/27/07
Where are all the comments? The title alone should be reason enough to take a peek. What a hoot! What mother (or father) can't relate to this? Lots of great lines - like the one about daddy and the newspaper - ha! Great fun - laughed my way through your embarrassment. :-) Good job!
Dee Yoder 07/27/07
Every parent in America can relate to this story! Such fun, and the title is a clue to the hilarity in the story. I needed that laugh-wonderful writing!
Pam Carlson-Hetland07/27/07
Yes, I agree with the comment above. Such a perfect title for a perfectly written humorous "embarrassing" story. Loved the little italicized thoughts. All of us who have had young children can so easily relate to days and incidents like these. Great writing, great descriptive detail, all 'round great job!
Betty Castleberry07/29/07
So cute, and so true. Moms, of which I am one, can totally relate to this. Thanks for the well written and enjoyable read.
Catrina Bradley 07/29/07
Your writing flows, great job telling this embarrassing account. Knowing it's true makes it even better.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 07/29/07
Great story telling - Boy oh boy those were the days!!
william price07/29/07
Besides being a beyond great story expertly presented. You write masterfully. I'm impressed! I think I've found another favorite WRITER to follow. Outstanding job with dialogue and scene setting. Great, believable authentic voice. I believe you will be in level four before you know it, and level five if ever one is created. OUTSTANDING job. God bless.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/30/07
A winner in my book--a favorite. It would be hard to beat for humor and great writing.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/30/07
Love your humor and believable tales of parenthood. Excellent writing!
Joanne Sher 07/30/07
Oh dear! LOVE your title, and your descriptions. Excellent storytelling.
Patty Wysong07/30/07
Too fun!! Unfortunately, I can relate--for many years a potty chair resided in my van, too. VERY well written and very engaging. :-)
Marie Fieldman07/30/07
This is really funny... I love the way you open. It starts the story off at a clip.

I hope you do well.

Loren T. Lowery07/31/07
Completely believable and greatly told. I enjoyed everything especially how gossip can come back to embarrass you if it were ever made public. Great job!
Trevas Walker07/31/07
Well written, believable, and humorous as well. Great Job!
Jan Ackerson 07/31/07
Very, very funny--I love the line about the newspaper and her daddy. One of my faves.
Julie Arduini07/31/07
What's to change here? Not a thing that I can see. Just echo the other comments. This was a delight, a great lesson, funny, and masterful story telling. An absolute favorite.
George Parler 08/01/07
What a fun read. Good job. I too, like the part of Dad and the news paper. :)

Thank you.
Myrna Noyes08/01/07
What a cute, funny, real-life story! :) Your excellent writing let me see the embarrassing events so with perfect clarity! Loved your title! :D
Dara Sorensen08/01/07
Unlike many of the above reviewers I can't relate just yet to this story--but I know I will! It made me laugh...I could feel myself being embarrassed too.

Sheri Gordon08/01/07
This is so funny -- and you're masterful at telling the story. You kept me involved from the very beginning. Great writing. Very good job with the topic.
Lisa Holloway08/01/07
Funny! I enjoyed your story.
Beth LaBuff 08/02/07
Kristen--I love your title and how you wrapped it together with your end sentence. It was a totally enjoyable read. Isn't life funny, the things you say about others often come back to haunt you. This was really good. I wonder if there's a magazine somewhere that would print this? Very well done!