As I rush to get the last bits of my morning routine squared away, I send my oldest, Zack, off to the bus stop. I run to capture the tasmanian devils, having to give chase for a few laps myself, so that we can perhaps get some clothes on their little bodies and finally make our way to school and then work. Finally in the car, I'm chatting with Ella about her lipstick (princess lipgloss) that she managed to smear on when I wasn't looking. Sigh. "Ella, mommy said not for school, honey. You don't wear it to school, and I think you might have put on a dash too much. It's smeared across your face, babe." Honestly, she could've been a contender for the role of Joker.
"No, mommy," she shouts at me with furrowed eyebrows. This is serious. "It's my lipstick. I put it on for school!"
From the other side of the car, "MOMMY. MOMMMMMYYYY. TWINKLE TWINKLE. MOOOOMMMYYY. TWIIINNNKKLLE TWIIINNNKKLLE!"
"Okay, Ethan, okay," I offer up before breaking out into song for my biggest fan. I belt out an enthusiastically over-the-top rendition of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star that I'm thankful no one else was subjected to.
Upon arriving at their school and unloading Ella, I try to wipe off some of the bright pink overly done lip gloss, and I notice for the first time since waking her this morning the grotesque and scaly line of crust from the outer corner of her mouth to her chin. Without even thinking--you know where I'm going with this, don't you--I lick my thumb (yes, boys and girls, that's right) and rub my spit on her little face before sending her into class. I could say that it was the hectic morning, I could say I thought out my options and this was the best one, but the truth is it was instinctual. Instinctual, people!
I stopped mid-second-lick-and-rub, horrified at my actions, and immediately went into flashback mode. I went to a painful place in my childhood that had been seared into my memory. A place where my mother's spit-- and consequently, morning breath-- was wiped across my face on many mornings and seemed to stain my skin with the smell of bologna. My mother had of course brushed, flossed, and mouth washed long before taking this action, and may I say she never ate bologna--ever, but her breath...and my face... smelled of the meaty scent for the entire day.
I snapped back into the moment, looked down at my daughter who had a snarled face and squinty eyes, and I realized what agony I was putting her through. She marched into the school and into her class, arms folded, lips pursed (and stained bright pink). I gave my usual, "Have a good day, sweetie." No response. Just a death stare. Arms still folded. What have I done? I've become my mother. I hung my head in shame. As I shuffled back to the car and off to work, I could only hope that my breath--and her face--offered up more of an accepting aroma than bologna. Sweet Potatoes?