Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SLIP OF THE TONGUE (01/26/17)
TITLE: Love You
By Jan Ackerson
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After months of googling and conferencing with her lovely teacher, we found a counselor and learned a new vocabulary: Childhood anxiety disorder. School avoidance. Social anxiety. Borderline Asperger’s.
Lots of things have helped, and second grade is so much better for Addie. She’s on a new medication, and we’re learning how to deal with her occasional meltdowns. A strict and unchanging routine is easier for her, so despite my own spontaneous and relaxed nature, our school day mornings now proceed according to a rigid plan.
Meds … put on the clothes we picked last night … banana pancakes … two ponytails … brush teeth … double-tie shoelaces … homework in backpack.
And as she heads out for the bus, we always, always have this exchange:
“Love you, too!”
This morning my mom was so funny. She always makes me banana pancakes because they’re the best and they take away the yucky taste of my medicine. Sometimes she puts chocolate chips in them. But we were all out of bananas because mom forgot to go to the store yesterday and she couldn’t make them.
So she said how about McDonalds Addie Addie Tuna Patty. And that was okay because I like the hash browns you can eat with your fingers and they have really big orange juice even bigger than at home. So I didn’t mind even though we had to leave a little earlier and I had to check my backpack because I thought I forgot my library book. But it was there even when I checked it again.
So we were at McDonalds and my mom was ordering my breakfast and I was tying my shoes again real tight because Mrs. O’Brian says she won’t tie our shoes for us anymore. And my mom pulled up to the window where they give you your food and she said thanks and the McDonalds lady said buh-bye and my mom said love you!
I laughed so much! She said love you to the McDonalds lady!
My mom laughed too and told the lady oops I mean bye and we drove to school. I laughed one more time when I thought about it and orange juice came out my nose.
There ain’t much to like about this job. I usually work the morning shift cuz all the teenagers are at school. It’s a long time since I been a teenager, but I still ain’t wild about waking up at five o’clock in the morning to go to a crappy minimum wage job. Rude customers always complaining about their coffee’s too hot or they had to wait too long or the restroom’s dirty. Know what? Eat at your own dang house then. Sit on your own clean bathroom floor and enjoy a nice lukewarm coffee, but stop complaining to me.
Weren’t nothing special about the lady ordering breakfast this morning. Had a little princess in the back seat with a princess backpack. Ordered hash browns and orange juice and a large coffee. Didn’t mean nothing to me, just another car in the line.
When I hand out her order, I say ‘buh-bye’ to her like I been told to say to all the customers. And dang me if she don’t say ‘love you’ to me. What?
Princess in the back seat just laughs and laughs and the lady kinda smiles like she’s embarrassed and says ‘oops, I mean bye, have a nice day.’
Well, she didn’t mean no harm. It was funny, I guess, the way ‘love you’ just slipped out. Maybe she’s the kinda lady who says that to everyone. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. Wishing I had a princess backpack when I was little, stead of just carrying my books and such. Thinking about how frickin’ happy that little girl was, and how she’s got them perfect ponytails and probably ballet classes and whatnot.
Trying to remember the last time someone said they love me.
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