Chatting our way through the silent opening of the automatic door, Allison had seventeen-month-old Timmy in tow. I glanced back and saw Suzie lagging behind. Once inside the store, we turned to watch the three-year-old run back and forth across the electric eye pad, giggling and clapping with each swing of the door.
“She’s just fascinated with electric doors. Fortunately, Timmy has yet to see the draw.” Patiently waiting for the little girl, while holding on to a squirming Timmy, Allison gave me an impressively uninterrupted run-down of the latest family adventures. “Okay, Suz, time to come through. Mommy’s got stuff to do today.” Noticing Suzie’s move to obey, we turned to head for the appropriate aisle. We’d not gone far when we heard Suzie addressing a shopper.
“Those nasty rings. You try washing them out, scrubbing them out. You’ve got ring around the collar!” Shaking her head, Suzie was looking up at a man coming through the electric door, struggling to turn up his collar. The blossoming redness escaped his neck, crossing his cheeks.
Suzie’s reenactment of the oft-seen commercial for a detergent had totally taken him by surprise. Actually, all of the people within hearing distance were in stitches, except Allison who was glowing beet-red as she handed Timmy off to me. Profusely apologizing to the embarrassed customer, Allison pulled at the pretty little blonde’s arm, turning to rejoin Timmy and me.
“Is this a common occurrence?” Chuckling and trying not to laugh right out loud as the clerks and other shoppers had done, I moved Timmy to my other hip.
“Oh, pretty much. The only question is which commercial message she will pull out of her repertoire. I don’t go into stores with the kids all that often, as you might imagine. I feel like the clerks are holding their collective breath every time they see us coming, anticipating what Suzie will drop on the next unsuspecting customer.” Allison reached for Timmy, swinging him up and over the shopping cart to buckle him in.
“You can help me find some good carrots to buy, Suzie, maybe some cucumbers, too.” Veggies weren’t on my list but it seemed a safe department for this little treasure trove of commercial messages. One can never have too many carrots, right? Any stranger lurking near the carrot bin might just be spared her dramatic introduction. Suzie eagerly took hold of my hand and danced her way to the produce section.
Before long, Allison and I had both completed our shopping. Mercifully, Suzie focused her attention on the colorful, new box of breakfast cereal I had bought for her, temporarily distracted from the collars of the adult patrons.
Later, when Allison and I were enjoying that mid-morning cup of coffee, Suzie voiced a request. “Mommy, we’re thirsty, too. Can we have a cup of Maxwell House; it’s good to the last drop and we won’t settle for anything less.” Face appropriately solemn, right hand on hip, left hand shaking the index finger to accentuate her request, Suzie struck an impressive no nonsense pose.
“Well, you are mixing your commercials here; but no, Miss Priss. You and your brother may not have a cup of coffee of any brand. However, you may have a cup of milk. Run and get your tea cups off the folding table.” Both children spun around and were soon back, tiny teacups in hand. Allison filled each vessel and carefully set it in the waiting hands. Holding the plastic teacup out, watching the gentle swaying of the milk’s surface with each step, the two slowly, deliberately inched their way back to the child-sized table.
About half an hour later, gathering up my shopping bags and purse, I made my way to the front door. Passing through the living room, I saw Suzie with her arm around Timmy’s little-boy shoulders. They were just silently walking around the room. Abruptly Suzie stopped and turned to face Timmy, keeping her arm in place.
“Laura, have you tried those new Playtex, deodorant tampons yet?” Suzie’s question to her brother took me by such surprise; laughter escaped my lips like a firecracker. When they twisted around to see who was interrupting their play, I saw furrowed little brows, eyes squinting, and a thin line where smiles had been seconds earlier.
“See what I mean, Marie? It could have been so much worse than ring around the collar!”
Remember: what little ears hear in the home, little lips just might freely share when least expected!
This true story took place in the mid-70’s, though all names have been changed.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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