What the ‘towel’ did that kid just say?

Lori C linch

Are We There Yet?

I think the short days of winter are taking their toll on our family. I’m not so sure that we can take all of the indoor time together for much longer.

That’s for stinking sure.

Take tonight for instance. My little Lawrence took a nice, long shower only to discover that there were no clean towels in the bathroom. He shook off as much excess water as he could before he opened the bathroom door and loudly exclaimed, “I need a towel!”

I was rather busy at the time. Turns out someone put a glass inside the garbage disposal and then, for reasons we may never understand, turned it on. A better mother would have done an investigation, called in witnesses and perhaps summoned a team of experts to get to the bottom of the situation. A more suitable woman would have checked out alibis, interviewed friends, and interrogated suspects until they broke under pressure.

But around here it was just another incident that involved an appliance and a piece of raw material. A fragment of material that, if not handled properly, could sever a limb and render a mother useless for the better part of a week.

I remained an arm’s length into the disposal in an attempt to try to force it to give birth to a huge chunk of glass that simply wouldn’t fit back up through the hole. Meanwhile, my dear Lawrence was in the bathroom, cold and screaming for a towel as if it were the end of the earth and he was the last man standing in a wasteland of proverbial nakedness.

I did what any mother in my situation would be prone to do, and passed some of the parental responsibilities on to my eldest child. “Vernon!” I hollered without letting go of the chunk of glass. “Get him a towel out of the other bathroom!”

Before I go on, I feel I should mention that good mothers do not curse, especially in front of the children. And I strive to be good. God knows I do. Cursing mothers raise cursing children, so I only curse when I’m really mad. Then, of course, there’s the occasional bout in the afternoon when no one’s around.

Still, I stand firm. My children are NOT allowed to curse. Not once, not ever.

Yet apparently my dear Vernon, in response to my request that he simply go and get a towel out of the bathroom for his brother, yelled – and at the top of his lungs, I might add – “Lawrence, get the H#$% out of the bathroom.”

Imagine my home when this hits the fan. Ralphie took a deep breath in feigned shock, little Charlie dropped a noodle out of his mouth, and Huey, (our destined-to-be-a-priest child) suddenly appeared at my side and inquired, “Did you know that Vernon just said ‘H#$%’? You are not going to just stand here and allow him to curse, are you? Do you want me to call in the response team?”

As I said, I may be an occasional curser, but I still discipline my children for “shut up” and “moron.”

I am quite certain that had I actually heard Vernon say it, I would have blown a gasket. But you see, I was involved with the disposal and doing my darnedest to remain composed as I tried to digest the fact that some ignoramus tried to grind up a glass and send it through the city’s sanitation system.

I turned to Huey, my destined-to-be-a-priest child, and inquired, “What did you just say?”

“I said Vernon just told Lawrence to get the H#$% out of the bathroom.”

I sucked in a deep breath and looked at Huey in disbelief, “You did not just say H#$%!”

“I didn’t say H#$%,” he replied. “Vernon said H#$%.”

I knew full good and well that Huey had just said H#$%. But I wasn’t sure if it was OK or not, since he was simply repeating what he thought his older brother had said. I made a mental note to look that up in my “Mother’s Guide to Better Parenting” book, and then turned to Vernon.

“Did you say H#$%?”

“Well,” he replied with a smirk, “you’re the one that told me to tell him to get the H#$% out of the bathroom.”

“I said towel!”

“Oh,” he said as he looked at me and blinked. “Well then, that does make a difference now, doesn’t it?” Then he walked back to the hallway and called out to his poor, wet brother, “Hey, Lawrence, Mom said to get the towel out of the bathroom.”

I can’t help wondering how all of this will sound when it comes out in therapy.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” Her e-mail address is lclinch@charter.net.