Friday, December 6, 2013

The liability of shortness

It's been an awakening knowledge with E recently that she is not much taller than her almost-two-years-younger sister. She checked the closet where we measure the kids on their birthdays. L's birthday is next week (next week!!!) and L wanted to stand there to see where her 6-year tally mark might fall. It's just a scootch under the placement of E's 7-year mark. And that scootch is a really small scootch, it must be known, the scootchiest of scootches.

A thing I really like about the girls' school is how they foster sibling relationships. L's class recently put on a Thanksgiving play and it is understood there that siblings are excused from their own classes to watch their own siblings perform. So E was next to me on the bleachers when L's class paraded out to the middle of the gymnasium floor. And then - horrors. L's class bifurcated and reformed in parallel lines and what? L was in the back line, as one of the taller kids. All we saw was an occasional piece of her face poking out above the shorties' headdress feathers.

E had been grumbly about the realized eventuality that she will be the shortest noteverstill kid. I leaned over and whispered: "you want an advantage to being short? When you were in kindergarten I could see you perfectly in your performances!" E smiled at me through her grumblies. But she still grumbled.

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One night this week I left work a little earlier than usual so that G and I could arrive to the dry cleaner's before the store closed. We had one gazbillion items to pick up because it is so rare that we make it to the dry cleaner's before it closes. It was a strange December evening, sixty degrees or more, and I wasn't wearing my jacket. I was wearing a pencil skirt. I had no pockets. One can't even really be a mother without pockets. I think they revoked my mamahood card, that day. It wasn't pretty.

So I had G and it was dark out and he was skipping and he was galloping and the parking lot was craziness because of a tree farm that cropped up in the corner because trees do that, they migrate from woodlands to asphalt every December, and the tree farm guy had a woodfire going in an oil drum because Suburbia, Maryland is just like every hobo fantasy come true and you can't buy a migrating tree without woodsmoke and G wanted to stop, drop and roll because October was Fire Safety Month and he knows these things. I'm a knower, he'll tell you.

By the time we got into the dry cleaner's, it actually was closing time, and by the time we (stood there as the lady) found all our things on all the spinny racks and paid, it was past closing time, but I couldn't carry four bundles of twist-tied hangers and hold G's hand and my purse and my keys, which I needed to have out so as to open the door right away so as to drop the heavy clothing properly on the drop-down hook thingy instead of on the pavement without losing G to the throng of holiday tree shoppers and would-be People Who Needed Saving From Themselves Due To Lack of Fire Prevention Knowledge.

I got the car open and dropped my purse in the front seat and tried to hang the hangers on the drop-down hook thingy but there were quite a lot of hangers for just one drop-down thingy and I was trying to do so one-handed because I was trying not to lose G, who was boisterous with the holiday spirit, apparently, and desirous of frolicking through an asphalt forest, a true novelty matched only by a sixty-degree December evening.

So G was skipping and galloping in place and saying hi to strangers and warning them to shield their faces near the sparks and making merry in my left hand's grasp while I struggled with hangers when the dry cleaner lady scared the breath out of me by showing with the rest of our hangers, which was so nice but completely unanticipated and then I didn't have enough hands because if I took the remaining hanger bunches from her, G was going to climb to the top of an unsecured Douglas fir.

But somehow all the clothes hung themselves up and G said goodbye to all his friends and I convinced him to get in the car and I was so ready to go home -- and I couldn't find my keys. I had my phone and my purse and the clothes and the kid and no keys. But I must have had them very recently, right? Because I opened the car.

I checked everywhere, by which I mean EVERYWHERE. I checked the floor of the car and the seat of the car and moved the girls' boosters and the well pocket of the door of the car. I emptied my whole purse on the front seat of the car and used my phone as a flashlight under the car. I transferred clothes one hanger bunch at a time to the trunk of the car and frisked each plastic-sheathed grouping, groped each set of hanger necks.

And then I looked in all those places again.

And then I called the lovely husband, who was by then home with both girls, and had him come meet me. He looked in all of the places. He brought a flashlight and looked in the tire of the car by the door I'd first opened. He looked everywhere while the kids played in his minivan. It was very confusing because where else, truly, could we look?

And then he set the flashlight down, on top of my car, so he could think. And immediately he saw:  my keys.

I had set them just inside the cargo rack on the roof of the car. And then I couldn't see them because that cargo rack is my eye level.

Despite the pep talks I will always give my older girl, it is really not easy to be short.



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