It’s not what you think. I know you’re thinking lakes and calm waters and the beauty of nature. This is not nearly that serene or beautiful. And before I even get started, I want to apologize to the older gentleman that was in Goodwill on Wednesday evening last week, minding his own business, patiently waiting for his wife to try on her selections in the fitting room. I’d also like to apologize to any other passers-by in the general vicinity of the ladies fitting room around 7:45 p.m.
And while we’re making apologies and disclaimers, it’s important to make note that my children’s main source of safety and protection from inanimate objects is found in their Dad. I have been known to both knowingly and (mostly) unknowingly allow my children to have lids to those squeezy fruit pouches that fit nicely inside their mouth, but have more difficult time finding their way out of their mouth. I’ve been known to let them eat things off the floor, suck on grocery cart child restraint straps, and perhaps eat larger than safe pieces of hot dogs. Which is why I attribute much of what happened last Wednesday night to the fact that I was out there in the world alone with my kids without their Dad’s eye for safety. Poor things.
I mean, I’m all for safety–well maybe not completely– but let’s face it, there comes a time as a mom when a child is bored and so you allow them to be entertained with the closest thing (safe or unsafe) to squeeze 10 more minutes of time out of whatever it is that you are so bent on accomplishing. And since it appears to be my day of confession, while I’m at it I might as well confess that I let my kids ride down the street sans helmet on their bike. I know, it’s appalling. I didn’t even realize it was a big deal until I started getting awful looks from the bike helmet police (read here: other more safety cautious mothers). What has this world come to?! But I digress in my need to confess and clearly establish that it’s not always “safety first.” Sometimes it’s “Let’s see what this does..” first. And sometimes it’s “Oooh this looks fun” first. And every now and then it’s “I just need a few more minutes, so sure you can play with that” first. The latter was the case in this most current uncalculated safety risk.
The other night, Reid had a meeting and it was AWANA night for the kids. If you’re not familiar with AWANA, it’s an incredible Bible-based program for kids where they play games, memorize scripture, and have a larger group Bible story time. They probably also teach kids skills on how to survive the mishaps of their parents– if not, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to add to the curriculum. AWANA is church-sponsored program that happens to be inflation-proof. It still only costs $.50 per child and I’m pretty sure that was the going rate when I was a child in AWANA programs more than a handful of years ago. Reid and I have been known to refer to Wednesday nights as dollar date-night. I know, it’s really super spiritual of us to take this perspective on it. But for just a meager $1.00 we get an hour and a half of alone time out on the town. Woot woot! This was a great bargain date until Max came into our world and totally put the kibosh on dollar date night. These days it’s the two of us and our trusty side-kick who would rather be scaling walls than sitting in a restaurant or screaming in the quiet zone at the library instead of quietly reading by the library fireplace baby boy…because we’re too cheap to hire a babysitter and because the kid is The Cuteness that neither one of us likes to be apart from unnecessarily.
Which brings me to the horrifying events of last Wednesday night. Did I mention I was alone with above mentioned child? I want to be sure to clearly establish that Reid bears no responsibility in this–which I feel I have successfully accomplished.
Those of you who know me, know that I do nearly all of my clothing shopping at thrift stores. If I have a free hour and I’m near a thrift store, then I’m going to go ahead and see what’s there. Last Wednesday night I decided I would spend the free 1 1/2 hours at Goodwill with Max. I was looking for a new top–you know one of those flowy blousy poet tops that’s gathered at the waist but hangs down. I’ve seen so many women I know wearing them and they’re adorable on them, so I thought I’d see what I could find. Now I realize that some of you are appalled that I went to Goodwill looking for something specific that is currently on-trend. I know it seems crazy, but I typically go with specific things in mind and about 75% of the time I find what I’m looking for, or something pretty close. You should try this sometime.
I looked for nearly 45 minutes and found a few things I thought were cute, including a pair of Nike workout shorts, while Max remained (mostly happy) in the stroller . I headed to the fitting room with high hopes that one of the tops I had found would work on me. There was an elderly gentleman sitting outside the handicapped fitting room waiting for his wife who was trying on her finds. The fitting rooms at this particular store (I like to call it a recycled clothing boutique) were the kind with the slatted doors that have approx. a 1 1/2′ gap between the door and the floor.
I squeezed Max, his stroller, and all my hopeful poet blouse candidates and other treasure finds into a standard sized fitting room. For reasons I still can not explain, I hated every one of those cute tops on me. I had loved them so on everyone else and hated them on myself. I was so shocked that I think I tried each one on three times hoping to see if maybe I could warm up to them.
So now Max and I have been in this standard sized (read here, super tiny/size of a shoe box) fitting room for approximately 10 minutes and (of course) he is still strapped into his stroller. He begins to melt down and in an effort to appease him I handed him one of my hangers to play with. You know the plastic kind with the swivel metal hanger part because —clearly— this is the wisest solution to pacify and entertain a fidgety baby in a tight spot whose strapped into a stroller. No, of course it’s not the wisest thing! I wasn’t thinking, “What’s the smartest thing to entertain him with?” or “What’s the BEST solution to this situation?” I was thinking, “Buddy, I’ve still got 6 more things to try on cause Mama needs a new outfit. Here! Look! Doesn’t this look like fun? It’s a hanger!”
Now I know that some of you are dying a little inside right now. The fact that I just handed my son a germy Goodwill hanger to play with is making you have an internal melt-down and some of you are shaking your head and experiencing the shivers of utter disgust. If it’s any consolation (likely it isn’t) he had already had a snack cup full of Kix which he had removed the lid from and dumped onto the floor. I was able to “rescue” some of them from the “clean section” of the floor and put them back into the snack container to try to appease him. Pretty much what you’re thinking right now is what I’m sure he was thinking too. He didn’t want the dirty Kix back. He didn’t want anything to do with those germ-filled balls of cereal. And then he began to increase in voicing his displeasure with greater volume. This is the point at which, I handed him the hanger.
It was somewhere after trying on the workout shorts and before getting my pants back on that Max began to scream. Not the “I’m tired of being here” scream, this was more the “I’m in trouble, need help, and am terrified” scream that can be heard throughout the entire store drawing all attention to my particular fitting room. I looked down at him and found that he had somehow decided to suck on the hanger part (I know–with the germs already–I know). Somehow the hanger hook had worked it’s way into his mouth; more specifically toward the back of his mouth and he had fish-hooked himself. Trying not to panic while standing in my undies, I attempted to remove the hanger. It wouldn’t budge– not forward, not backward, not up, or down. Insert full-on panic where I lost all sense of reason and crouched down to his level to try to calmly, without freaking out, remove the hanger.
As seconds passed, and the screaming got louder the following thoughts passed through my mind: What will I do if I can’t get it out? How do you take a baby all the way to the ER (alone) with a hanger stuck in his mouth? How do you explain how the hanger got stuck in his mouth?
Then I noticed another obstacle to my speed in being able to get to the ER. I didn’t have any pants on. My next thoughts were:
How do I stand up and get my pants on with this hanger stuck in him? What if it gets worse while I’m getting my pants on?
And as I’m gently, ever so gently still trying to find the right angle to get the hanger to give way and come loose I thought:
Oh goodness. How am I going to explain this to Reid? “Hi Reid, ummmm… so Max and I are at the ER because….well…. we were at Goodwill and I was in the fitting room and I handed him a hanger…”
No. There was no way I was going to be able to bring myself to tell my husband I had allowed our son to get fish-hooked by a hanger. Meanwhile poor Max is looking at me desperately like, Uh, Mom. This is freaking me out! Help!!!”
I saw the fear in his eyes, set the panic aside, and prayed, “Jesus, help.” Right then, the hook came loose and I got the hanger out without any injury at all. Poor Max was relieved momentarily and then suddenly terrified all over again at the fact that the whole event had happened at all. He looked at me as if to say, Why did you give me that hanger? If Dad was here, he never would’ve given me a hanger. He wouldn’t even have kept me in this fitting room so long as to need entertainment from a hanger!
This all happened in just moments. And as I looked in his eyes I felt this sense of guilt wash over me. What kind of mother gives her child a hanger with a swivel hook on the end? What kind of mother keeps her child in a tiny fitting room so long that he should even need a swivel hooked hanger for entertainment? And right as I was about to have another disparaging, guilt-ridden thought, I had a realization…
When I went into panic mode and crouched down, I had crouched down with my back to the door. When your back is to the door and you’re in crouch position in between outfit changes, in a fitting room that has a 1 1/2 foot gap between the door and the floor, what happens is this: part of your body (namely your backside) appears in plain view for all to see. Where people would normally only be able to view your feet in that gap if you were standing; in crouch position, that 1 1/2 foot gap is the ideal size for the greater part– if not all– of a rumpus to hang out. Which is exactly where I found myself in that very moment. There in crouch position, my guilt over being the worst mother ever was superseded by images of the poor old gentleman who had been subjected to being inadvertently mooned by me as he innocently waited on his bride in her fitting room. And then my imagination went to all the blood curdling screaming that had likely attracted some onlookers who were wondering what in the world was going on in there with that poor child, only to come by and see my backside hanging out of the fitting room.
And so…as I stood up, unstrapped Max, and held the poor terrified child in my arms I thought, “Max, I’m so sorry that due to the fact that many people just saw my bottom, you are going to have to endure at least another 5 minutes in here hiding out with me until they have all left and moved on.”
The moral of the story is: Hangers are not toys for babies and if you’re going to have to crouch down in a fitting room, just be sure your backside isn’t facing the door-side.
You’re welcome for the wisdom that probably comes to you without experience. Clearly I’ve only managed to gain it the hard way. And you’re welcome for the laugh at Max’s and my expense.
*This is a re-post off of my previous blog site and since I needed a chuckle today, I thought maybe you could too!