October 8, 2008


Every Wednesday evening, my neighbor works as a waitress at a swanky Italian restaurant in town. I help her out by watching her two daughters (aged 5 & 10) for an hour until her husband gets home from work.

A few weeks ago, the husband got stuck in a meeting and called to say that he wouldn't be home in time to take Christina, his older daughter, to her first CCD class at the local Catholic church. When I told Christina that it was her lucky day--I was going to drive her!!!!--the blood drained out of the fifth grader's face. I didn't have the slightest idea why until I looked in the hallway mirror and saw a bloated whale wearing a cowboy hat and socks with sandals.

The outfit was non-negotiable, as were the four five year-olds dressed in Lightening McQueen and Sleeping Beauty pajamas. Still, I felt bad for the poor girl, so I cut her a deal.

"I'll tell you what," I said t0 Christina as I pulled into the church parking lot, "Why don't you walk 10 steps ahead of us and pretend like you don't know us."


I found the girl curled in the fetal position in the back of my car.

After I agreed to repark the car down the street and around the corner, Christina mustered enough courage to get out of the vehicle. Very slowly, she began to slink toward the building.

The pajama train followed 100 yards behind singing "This Little Light of Mine" at the top of their lungs. I like the song, so I sang too.

By the time that we entered the church gymnasium, Christina was already sitting at a table with a group of her friends.

"Let's go," I told the children's choir, "Our work here is done."

We turned and exited the building in an orderly fashion, but not before the choir broke into loud, exuberant song again.

"So long! Farewell! It's time to say good-bye!" they screamed.

I tried to stop them...unsuccessfully.

Christina is still not speaking to me. As if there would be any question.


Me said...

Oh the joys of being a parent. The rights that we possess to embarrass the children in our life. Only is it truly rewarding when we get to extend ourselves to other peoples children as well!

Anonymous said...

Ah. Life is good.

I work with kids so I have constant opportunities to extend my sphere of influence to children whose parents think I am some sort of trained professional.

I so rock.

mommyofthree said...

There you go, burning babysitting bridges. Ah, well, she probably has seen too much of your kids to agree to spend time alone with them anyway. Perhaps a classmate of hers who missed the chorus will agree to babysit someday?

Sants said...

Embarrassing your own children is a blast! Embarrassing your neighbor's children is a priceless gift to treasure. Sounds like you really appreciated the beauty in the opportunity. Good job!

Rachel said...

5th grade girls are embarassed by EVERYTHING, regardless of how benign it may be, so my theory is that you might as well really do it up right, since they'll be mortified either way. Way to go!

Daria said...

And um...why were you wearing a cowboy hat with socks and sandals? Is this your normal daily attire? If so, we should hang out. I am often surprised at what I see when I look in the mirror. And...it just so happens that I am the mother of a 5th grade daughter (evil cackling commences). I'm supposed to pick her up from school today at 2:30...

Dolly said...

Oh man! This was fun to read! Mostly because I have an eleven year old daughter who NEVER goes into a building with her "LAME" mother and four yr.old brother. I know just what to wear next time we have parent/teacher conference! HA!

Diva Ma said...

Luckily my kids are still young enough to really not care what I wear. But you didn't embarass your own, did you? Oh no! You lost a playmate for your children!

Sheila said...

My brother was always embarrassed of our whole family. He was the oldest of 7 kids and would never walk with us. So, my mom decided we needed matching t-shirts. She had "Are we having fun yet" printed on blue t-shirts with a cute teddy bear on it (maiden name is Baer). We were required to wear this to all family functions and especially vacations. All the little ones thought it was so fun. My brother was not amused.

Michal said...

giggling. just think how much fun you'll have embarrassing your five year olds when they're old enough to be embarrassed! i can't wait to hear about that.

Triplethefunplus2 said...

hahahahahaha. I love it!