Day 26: OPEN

Our town has a small, soft-serve ice cream shop known as Ranch Frostie. I’ve written about it before because it makes me feel nostalgic even though we’ve only lived in this town for three years. There is something about this place that makes me feel like home.

Ranch Frostie closes for the winter, stacking its wooden picnic tables in front of the walk-up window and turning its large sign in the window to CLOSED. The sidewalk gets covered with snow and the little building fades into the dreary backdrop of winter. Everyone forgets about Ranch Frostie while we slog through the winter months.

Well, when I picked the girls up from daycare the other day there was a handwritten notice on the parent bulletin board in the lobby of the daycare. “Ranch Frostie opened today!”

When Ranch Frostie opens, you go.

It doesn’t matter if you have mounds of laundry to fold or if Maddie has an art project due the next day or if you wanted to run that night or if the girls need a bath. When Ranch Frostie opens you go. So we finished dinner quickly and I reminded the girls to leave room for ice cream.

We pulled up in the parking lot of the brick building and saw the sign in the window: OPEN. We cheered. We walked up and ordered three swirls, two with sprinkles and one in a cup. It tasted like summer even though we had to eat it in the car because it was freezing outside. It didn’t matter.

When Ranch Frostie opens, you go.

IMG_5306 2

SOL

Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

Day 25: Oh Yeah?

Maddie has a crush on a boy in her first grade classroom. His name is Nick, but don’t tell anyone because it’s a secret.

When Maddie first told me about her crush, I didn’t know what to say. I think she is far too young to be talking about crushes or boys, but I didn’t say so out loud. I didn’t want to discourage her from talking to me about these kinds of things, or any kinds of things for that matter. Someday – when she’s much, much older – we’ll need to be able to talk about boys. But not now. Not yet.

What I didn’t know then was that Maddie was going to keep talking about Nick. A lot. She talks about how Nick sat across from her at lunch and how Nick was in her math group and how Nick is in art club and Nick this and Nick that and Nick, Nick, Nick. I still don’t know what to say, so I just nod and smile and offer a non-committal “Oh, yeah?”

Maddie hasn’t yet noticed that I don’t have much to say.

“Mom, I had to help Nick spell a word today. He needed help and he asked me,” she tells me after school.

“Oh, yeah?” I say.

“Yep!” she replies enthusiastically.

I nod. I sorta smile but not really.

Don’t worry, though. Someday – when she’s much, much older – I’ll know exactly what to say.

Right?

Maddie and Nick

SOL

Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

 

Day 24: What Happens in the Fitting Room 

I was out of patience before we even began. We have a vacation approaching, and the girls needed some warm weather clothes. They’ve both had a growth spurt during the cold winter months, so we had only one choice. We would have to go in the fitting room.

If you’ve ever ventured into a fitting room with little ones, you know it is not fun. It is small and cramped. The floor is dirty.  The hangers get tangled together. The kids take forever to get undressed and redressed and undressed and redressed. It’s just not a fun time.

I breathed a deep sigh as the three of us crammed ourselves into the tight space.

“Okay, Katie, you first,” I said as I lifted her shirt off over her head. “Let’s start with this bathing suit.”

I picked up the hanger holding the suit. It was a two-piece suit which went against my better judgement, but it’s what Katie really wanted. I pulled the bottoms over her wiggly legs and shimmied the top over her head.

“Fits good, Katiebug,” I said as she turned to see herself in the mirror. And that’s when the silliness began. I don’t know if it was the two-piece suit or the close quarters or just Katie’s mood, but Katie got real silly real fast.

First she started doing some sort of dance that involved more of her butt than anything else. The top half of her body was barely moving, but the bottom half was doing things I didn’t know a five year old could do. Maddie, who was sitting on a stool in the corner of the fitting room, began to giggle which was all the fuel that Katie needed. The next few minutes were filled with dancing, songs about Katie’s belly button, giggles, strange poses, silly facial expressions, and what can best be described as twerking.

I was not in the mood for this.

My eyes darted over to the stool and met Maddie’s eyes. The two of us instantly exploded into laughter, and I collapsed onto the dirty floor. Maddie and I laughed until we cried and Katie carried on all the while.

Thirty-one stories for thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Day 23: Unspoken Messages

I was cooking dinner and heard the beep of a text message notification. I glanced down and saw the text was from my sister. She never texts me. I wiped my hands on the towel and swiped left to read the message.

Her: Do you remember when we used to make crepes?

I was immediately taken back to our childhood home, to our kitchen with the green stove. There’s my sister and I, laughing and whisking together the crepe ingredients in my mom’s green and white Pyrex bowl. How I adored my sister back then. We used to love making crepes and filling them with jam or peanut butter or cream cheese.

We used to love doing a lot of things together.

Me: Yes! I still have the recipe!

I miss us, she doesn’t write.

I miss us, too, I don’t write back.

But I know we both feel it in our hearts.

Thirty-one days of stories as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Day 22: A Missing Egg, an Apology, and Some Cookies

Katie’s birthday was in the middle of February. My mom bought her a delightful baking kit so we could bake some cookies together.

Cookie Kit

The first time Katie asked me to bake with her I said, “Sure!” We opened the box only to discover we needed an egg. I didn’t have any eggs. “I’m so sorry, Katie,” I told her. “I promise to get some eggs next time I go to the store.”

“Okay, Mommy!” Katie replied with a smile before skipping away because that’s the kind of person Katie is.

The next time she asked if we could bake I had work to do. The time after that there were piles of laundry to fold. The time after that I had to start making dinner. And the time after that I was just sitting down to pay the bills.

Eventually I guess Katie just stopped asking.

I saw that delightful box sitting in the corner of the living room late last night. My heart sank. I stopped what I was doing and went to find Katie. I apologized and told her that I was not too busy to bake with her. I promised we would bake those cookies the very next day when we got home from school. I assured her that I have both the time and the egg.

“I’m so sorry, Katie,” I said again. “I’m really, really sorry.”

“It’s okay, Mommy,” Katie said with a smile before skipping away because that’s the kind of person Katie is.

Katie Baking

We finally made the cookies.


SOL

Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

Day 21: They Don’t Know I Come Right Back

Maddie and Katie are in separate rooms at their daycare. Every morning we make the long trek down the hall to Maddie’s room first. She hangs up her coat and backpack, and we give a quick hug and a kiss.”Have a great day! Be kind,” I tell her as Katie and I walk away with a wave.

Same thing happens in Katie’s room down the hall. Although I usually have to grab Katie for a hug and a kiss and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t hear me say good-bye because she’s off and playing with her friends.

What both of my girls don’t know is this: I always come right back.

I don’t head towards the door to the parking lot. I make that long trek back down the hallway to Maddie’s room. I stand behind the door frame where she cannot see me (but the teacher usually does). I peek around the door and watch, for just a moment. Is she settling in? Has she found a friend? Does she look happy?

I stop again at Katie’s door. Hiding behind the door frame, I peek in. Katie’s teacher offers me an understanding smile. Is she playing? Does she look happy? Is she taking turns?

Satisfied, I leave for work.

My girls are getting older, becoming more confident and assertive with age. They probably don’t need their momma peeking around the corners of doors. Maybe one of these days I won’t peek around the door frame. Maybe one of these days I’ll just head for my car.

But for right now, they don’t know I come right back.

SOL

Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

Day 20: Clean Up in Aisle Ten

The girls and I were trudging our way through the grocery store after another one of our crappy Friday night dinners. I was pushing the cart down the aisles as Maddie and Katie chit-chatted about everything and anything. The cart rolled over a bunch of straws that had spilled out onto the floor. Bumpity bump bump went the cart. I barely looked up from my grocery list and kept walking. As we neared the end of the aisle Maddie called out, “Mom! Wait!”

I stopped and watched her run back to the straws. She squatted down and picked them up, then held them out to me, unsure of what to do with them.

“We can bring them up to Customer Service after we pay,” I told her. She nodded, still clutching the straws.

I paid for our groceries and we headed towards the Customer Service desk.

“I can do it, Mom,” Maddie said.

“Okay,” I replied.

“I mean, I can do it. You don’t have to talk.”

“Okay,” I said again.

Maddie is seven. I don’t mean seven in a she’s-not-a-baby-anymore kind of way. I mean Maddie is only seven.

“Excuse me,” Maddie began. “We were in aisle ten and these straws were all over the floor.” Maddie thrusted the straws towards the lady behind the counter. “I picked them up, but I didn’t know where to put them.”

“Well, thank you,” the woman said. “That was very nice of you to stop and pick them up.”

“You’re welcome. It was aisle ten,” Maddie reiterated.

I put my arm around Maddie and squeezed her tight.

“You’re a good kid, Maddie,” I told her.

And to think I was going to just keep on walking. Parents are supposed to set an example for their kids. Sometimes, it’s the other way around.

SOL

Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.