Originally posted Jan. 30, 2008
I suck. I totally embarrassed my daughter tonight.
We were waiting for a book signing to begin for Junie B. Jones' creator, Barbara Park, when I glanced down at my precious daughter and horror of all horrors, realized that she had spaghetti sauce smeared all over her face.
"Oh my God. Let's go to the bathroom and wash your face," I said hastily. Oh, how I regretted it as soon as the words were out of my mouth, but it was too late. The damage was done. A kid sitting nearby had witnessed my obnoxious-Mommy moment, and Holly spun around in shame, her eyes filling with tears. She leaned her forehead against the magazine rack, where all of the home decorating magazines were displayed.
"I'll wash it with my tears," she actually said, slicing my heart to smithereens. I'd really blown it.
"I am so sorry. I can't believe I embarrassed you like that honey. I am so sorry," I whispered again, peeling her off the magazine rack and hugging her to me. Then she did it: she wiped her tears onto her cheeks and washed them, alright. I felt like such a heel. When she glared up at me and licked her own fingers to finish the job, we both began to giggle. Phew. It would be okay.
Just in case it isn't, I'll have to up her allowance because she'll need therapy someday. I really suck.
Then it dawned on me: the author we came to see invented Junie B. Jones, for Pete's sake, the scruffy, spunky little first-grader who tells it like it is and never gives grammar a second, or even first thought. Like she'd give a hoot that my kid had a messy face. Or a messy shirt, I realized, grinning when I took a closer look at Miss Holly, by then contentedly snuggling on my lap and twirling my hair between her fingers. I noticed that the spaghetti sauce also got onto the shorts that she wore over her mismatched sweatpants. Lordy be. Holly and Junie B. could be pals, I decided. Holly even talks like her.
I (almost) never correct Holly's grammar. I swear.
As we left Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville and kicked through the slush on our way to the car, we talked about Ms. Park, Junie B.'s author, and what we thought of her.
"Hey Dude? I mean, Mom? Sorry," Noah laughed, sheepishly. "I just get used to saying that, at school. She looked like I thought she would," he said, of Ms. Park. I agreed. She's trim, with a spunky short haircut and funky glasses.
I said I was surprised by how honest she was. She didn't try to come off as wholesome and inspiring. During the Q & A she admitted that she didn't really like to write as a kid, and never liked putting her spelling words into sentences. At all. In fact, her favorite thing about being an author, she admitted, is "Getting to work in my pajamas." I can totally relate to that.
"You're like her," Noah volunteered.
"I am?" I asked, surprised. But then, he's seen me write in my pajamas.
"You're funny," he clarified.
"Smart kid. I'll keep feeding you," I giggled, and we laughed all the way home. Holly, too.
Funny? Maybe. But I still suck. I'll keep workin' on that.
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.