On buying a pee stick or three at the Dollar Store

I parked next to the Dollar Store in the less-densely packed parking area because I like 90 degree angles and the other spots had those 45 degree angled spots that you need a protractor in order to fit properly. Don’t look at me like that.

In the process, I learned that the shady area next to the Dollar Store is also the official make-out spot of my municipality.

Ironic since that’s the kind of trouble that probably got me into this mess.

Ohhh ho ho ho. I kid.

C’mon. A Dollar Store parking lot? We are more caviar than that.

We are Publix kind of people.

Anyway. Of course I was going to the Dollar Store to buy the pregnancy test because even though there are goalies in place, you can never be too sure. You would think someone who cares so much about 90 degree angles would probably have spreadsheets of her menstrual cycle (stop gagging and grow up or I’ll put you in a binder full of women) but I work in a place among some 650 uteri. Every month is a new adventure with new ovarian tales to tell. Also, it is well-documented that you can still get a false positive if you are one of the very lucky, which I am.


I later regaled my husband with this, the evidence of heavy petting in cars outside the store that sells the oft-desired Wet n’ Wild nail polish and syrupy bottles marked simply Cola. He wanted to know who the kids were. Really? Stay classy, hubs.

When I found myself in the aisle where the dollar preggo tests usually are (it’s almost like I’ve done this before, I know!), they were all cleared out. Because I was determined not to be like Blossom Russo buying maxi pads for the first time, I decided to ask a stock clerk if they were all out of pee sticks. That required me to say aloud the words, “Are you all out of pregnancy tests?” Ugh. Hand me some orange Tic Tacs and call me Juno. I should mention the stock clerk was wearing a scraggly beard costume, basically from the neck up with some festive head-boppers. Exactly the kind of person who just knows where everything is.

She said, “Oh, they’re at the front.”

Which to me means they are behind lock and key and you need a front desk clerk to retrieve them.

So I ask the cashier if she can help me with pregnancy tests. She wanders over to a regular ol’ shelf with all manner of impulse buys. Because you know sometimes you’re just in line buying nail polish and you think, Oh, it’d be good if I pick up some lip balm if my lips get chapped and a pregnancy test or four in case I get knocked up. Love being spontaneous! Living dangerously in the Dollar Store!!!


She hooked me up with three tests. One to try first, one just to be sure (because for the price of a dollar, science can only get you so far. If you want an insurance policy on whether or not one test will tell you whether you have a womb squatter or not, you have to pay the big bucks). I tossed in one extra so I wouldn’t have to go through this ordeal again. Like, next month.

The front cashier was also in costume, wearing pink spangles from head to toe. She explained it was in support of her auntie who had passed away from cancer. So now she knew something about me and I knew something about her. The transaction was already taking place with no dollars even exchanged! Ah, poetry of life.

As she was bagging up my items another family was approaching the cashier so Pink Spangles said, super on the down-low, “Did you need anything else besides WHAT I HELPED YOU FIND?”


Ummmm. I don’t know what she wanted me to say. How about a can opener, and while you’re at it, maybe some Botox and is this also the place where I can vote early and often?

Speaking of votes, the results of the pregnancy test were negative but the outlook is positive for keeping my supply of tests well-stocked.


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Drinking Icees, Slurping up forgiveness.

I check my Swatch watch when I wake up. It’s darling but it always needs to be wound so the time can’t be right. I putz about the bathroom and find my other watch. Oh mercy.

The kids are both still in their pajamas. They’ve probably watched 286 cartoons between the two of them today.

“Guys, Mommy slept in. It’s already noon. I’m so sorry.”
“We missed my swim lesson?!”
“I know. I’m so sorry.”
“No, baby, we just wasted the morning. Mommy forgot to set her alarm.”
“Mommmmmaaa, I wanted to go to my swim lesson!”
“I know. How about I make it up to you and we can go to Lake Winnie today.”


The kids are moving in slow motion and all I want to do is reverse the clock, sit down and eat a bowl of granola and drink coffee and not feel frantic. Swimsuits elude us. Applying sunscreen is work.

“What’s going on, Little Man? Can I help you?”
“Mom, I just feel grumpy.”
I’m proud that he has accessed a feeling instead of casting blame.
I sound like a self-esteem manual from 1989.
“Mom, I’m grumpy because I’m sad I didn’t get to go to swim lessons.”
“I know, Son. I hope you can forgive me. I messed up.”
“I forgive you.”



giant side

We are walking back to the car. We have laughed, we have floated on the lazy river inner tubes several times. We have eaten funnel cake. We have had a good day.
“Mom, I’m still really upset I didn’t get to go to my swim lesson today.”
I don’t remind him that he got to shoot down a colossal waterslide, drink a giant Icee, and ride all the rollercoasters he could handle for the last six hours.
I don’t tell him that a whole afternoon at Lake Winnie beats any doggie-paddle lesson any day.
Instead I tell him the thing about forgiveness that is so hard to do.
“If you forgive someone, you can’t keep bringing it up. You know just like how God says when He forgives us, He casts our sins into the sea and doesn’t remember them anymore?”
“That’s what we have to do.”



The next day he is unlocking the front door and turns to me as he opens it. “I forgive you for sleeping through my swim lessons, Mom.”


The day after that, he hugs me unbidden and says, “I still forgive you for sleeping through my swim lessons, Mom.”

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On dropping off my kid at camp for the first time

I am tucking the sheet around the mattress on the top bunk which she has chosen because it runs perpendicular to her friend Belle’s. I imagine them later that night, all muffled giggles and flashlights burning dim. I am forcing the rumpled sheet around the mattress and with each tuck I am enfolding so many things. Two streams of feelings flood me: Did I pack her a hoodie? Did I love her enough? Does she have enough toothpaste for the week? Did I love her enough? I am tucking in every hope of every parent who has ever sent their kid to camp: Please, please, have so much fun that you have no time to miss home. Please don’t just eat Frito’s and drink Lemonade all week. Please be kind to the girl that everyone thinks is a weirdo. The weirdoes all grow up to be awesome people, trust.

In the days leading up to camp, my daughter was different. More aware, more sensitive. She hugged me tighter, visited kindness more readily upon her brother. It is both easy and completely aggravating to love the child who is antyspantsed excited about something on the horizon.


But there is new under the campground sun. For in every stage of parenting, there are victories and crushing losses. I am ecstatic that my child went barreling onto the top bunk without fear. I am so pleased that she then came down and group hugged us with a vice grip. I am bereft to know that I will blink and suddenly she will be asking me to back off and let her put the sheets on her bunk. In her college dorm room.

There is an unspoken contract that parents make in sending their kids to camp for the week. It is different than simply sending them to school because with school you have some say-so with their lunch orders and where they sleep. With sleepaway camp, you sign away your rights to intervene for the designated time; you trust that whatever you learn will be born either of necessity or overflow. You gain the right to not have to coordinate, support, discipline for the week; you surrender your rights to ever truly know what really happened. In short, you empower your child to have his/her own life–to not only eat cereal for dinner if she so pleases but to harbor the experience of crushing hard on a boy for the first time deep deep in her heart. She will tell you about one or both or neither because you empowered her to make that choice.

Our house is so quiet at night. The absence of one is surely felt. I don’t want that hole ever to be filled by any but that beautiful girl. Bittersweet is one word. The taste of two elements at once. I hope one day she knows exactly what it means.


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