This post was originally published on February 11th, 2011.
"Knock knock," said Ayla.
"Who's there?" said I.
Well that's just good comedy, I thought to myself. The best part was her delivery--clearly that was the punchline. Because if you were, say, shopping for Shake Weights and found yourself suddenly interrupted by diarrhea, would you take the time to say "interrupting diarrhea who?"
It had been a long day. I had walked into Michael's thinking it would be 'easy' and, I don't know, 'cute', to pick up supplies and have the girls make their own Valentine's. I have never been so wrong in my life. We took one step into the store that will eternally smell of fake flowers and wicker and I immediately started crying. Indy was all like "What's wrong?" and "don't cry, mommy", and I told her to stop being such a little brown-noser and give mommy a minute to recover from massive stamp and sticker over-stimulation. Panting, I called my sister. In reassuring tones she navigated me through the meelee like this was wartime Saigon and she was on her third tour. She knew the natives, she spoke the language. "Card stock and construction paper are basically the same things," she said, calmly enough to almost make me believe everything was going to be all right, despite all evidence to the contrary. "But it all has flowers on it," I sobbed. "And storks, and soccer balls. Oh God I am too young to die!"
"You are not in enemy territory," she said firmly. "That is just the scrapbooking section."
After that I dragged my weary soldier to Target because Michael's is too upscale for people like me, who don't wish to make our own stickers out of German glitter glue and the blood of the Viet Cong. She is four, and she was tired, so naturally she went for the only option available to her: stamping her foot, screaming, and making the bloody purple monsters dance to their eerie funeral dirge five thousand times. Oh baby you . . . got what I neeeeeeed. I think she must have picked up something about torture methods during our time in the war zone.
We made it out of Target with, I swear to God, two cans of chopped clams, one box of stamps without an ink pad, two cute bags with owls on them that I have little to no use for, and absolutely none of the things for which we had come. We called it a wash. Went to get Ayla.
Went to King Soopers.
I almost made it alive through the store at rush hour. Got to the check out. The kindly gentleman rang up my goods while I magnanimously distributed quarters and pennies to my own little waifs to entertain them during the wait.
"Mom," Ayla whines. "I have to go potty."
"You're gonna have to wait just a minute. We're almost done."
"Mom," she starts to cry. "I have to go POTTY."
And then she grabs her bottom.
"We're going to have an accident!!" Poor, poor me screams to the kindly checker. I grab my daughter and friends, I ran like a bat out of hell. My daughter in my arms, a mad dash for the bathroom on the opposite end of the store. "Will you watch my daughter!" I cry over my shoulder to the checker, pointing to my little cowgirl Indy--wearing her pink cowgirl boots, grinning like an idiot, obliviously enjoying her penny pony ride like no one has ever enjoyed that ride before. My wallet hit the floor, coins flew, people stared. I'm pretty sure at one point an old woman pushing a baby carriage pulled out of my way in the slickest nick of time. I elbowed and leapt and beat people back the way my teenage self once did trying to get front row seating at an O-Town concert.
The women's room is closed.
"Hello!" I yell, and dash into the men's.
Empty. Good things do happen.
Ayla is flustered. Teary. Probably a little embarrassed and a lot terrified. I situate her so she can see to her business. She's drawing in quick little breaths, chewing her bottom lip. I take a deep breath. She looks like she might cry.
"Ayla?" I say softly.
"Yeah?" her little voice wobbly.
". . . Knock knock."