Posted by Duff

I deserve most of the parental embarrassment that has come (and will come) my way.

Picture it: 1987, a family restaurant, on vacation, me asking my father for some change so I could get some gum – the hard, rectangle kind with an exoskeleton – from the machine.  It must have been five cents per handful. He only had a quarter. I guess I figured the machine would give change.

It didn’t.

What it did was empty the entire contents behind the glass encasement onto the slick linoleum floor. I might as well have dropped a ceramic piggy bank from the ceiling. Holy deluge of gum and sound.

I didn’t look behind me, but I could feel the spectators. I could hear their lack of conversation. You can probably guess happened next.

(If you can’t, I’ll tell you: I walked my pansy arse right out of that fine establishment, and waited by the car.)

My father, probably realizing my embarrassment was worse punishment for deserting him than he could inflinct, just gave me a look as he unlocked the car door and I climbed, sheepishly, inside. Whatever happened after I left, he got over it pretty quickly. But thinking about it now, I’m still ashamed.

Parenting being the karmic wheel it is, I imagine my father knew to be patient. What comes around…

Let’s circle back to last week, when The Dervish and I had just finished checking out at the grocery store. I had wheeled us up to the wall facing all of the registers, and was digging for my car keys, when I heard, “Uh-oh. I’m dropping the Cheerios. ”

Yes. She announced she was doing it before she purposely did it. She emptied a sandwich-sized bag of her favorite cereal onto the floor. At least Cheerios aren’t loud.

Because I had an audience, I didn’t say what I wanted to say in response. Her father and I are at our wits’ end due to The Dervish’s recent physical experiments. Gravity has been an especially painful lesson in her self-imposed curriculum.

In an exhale, I managed to say, “We don’t make a mess at the store, honey. ” If we’d been home, she’d have been helping me clean up, but there was no way I was letting her loose in the grocery store, cruise missile that she has become.

And then I got down on my hands and knees and picked up the requisite number of ‘Os to show her how it was done. And I did it slowly, ham-handed, affected by my observers.

When I looked up, The Dervish was examining her cuticles with the targeted interest she reserves for opening (anything she shouldn’t open). I don’t know that woman.

That’s one debt repaid. Stay tuned. I’m sure there’s more where that came from.

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