Last Friday my kids were out of school, no sickness, just one of the ubiquitous teacher planning days that sprinkle the calendar this time of year.
I had a bee in my bonnet that Child #1 needed new sneakers. We went to our favorite Hawthorne district shoe store where, to everyone's dismay, we learned her favorite sneaker maker had gone out of business. Child #1 loudly bemoaned this fact while Child #2 began to writhe underneath tables and knock over boxes of shoes.
I glanced at the well-behaved toddlers playing in the front of the store and then back at my own children and came to a decision. Child #1 wasn't going to get new shoes. The children were hustled back into the car where they proceeded to ennumerate all the ways they hadn't done anything wrong. I modeled mature adult problem-solving skills by refusing to speak to them.
My speechlessness and mature behavior lasted through our trip to the library. I checked out books and pretended the two children begging me to speak were not, in fact, my own. After the library I took pity on them and we went to the park.
The park was outside the twenty block sphere that contains our life. It's old-fashioned. The kind with real swings and a merry-go-round (a.k.a. Skull Crusher). I watched them jumping on and off, surfing with their eyes shut and gave my best impression of not being THAT mom. You know, the kind who shrieks warnings and mentally calculates whether, if someone slips off and rolls under the merry-go-round, it will in fact, crush their skull.
On the way home I remembered a shoe store in the neighborhood. On a hunch, I made the nine block detour and was rewarded by a sale sign in the window. Inside were the perfect boots, on sale and my size. Child #1 took charge. "Do you like these boots, mom?" she asked pushing her little fingers into the toe to judge whether I had room to grow.
"I love them."
"Do you have any money?" I asked her.
"Yes," she pulled a quarter out of her pocket.
"You'll have better luck with this," I said and handed her my credit card.
It was at that moment I realized we'd come full circle. Mother, daughter, daughter, mother, sometimes there's very little difference. And of course, I wore my new boots out of the store. Because that's what you do when you're nine...or forty.