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
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.
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