Kathleen Norton

The day of the Disappearing Mittens

Posted on: November 24, 2010

Still pining for her mittens

Watching your own children become parents is a wondrous thing. It also scares the hell out of you.

Why? Because you fear that at any moment, something will snap inside your grown child’s head. They will remember the bone-headed things you did as a young parent.

And they will demand an explanation.

So, when watching my own daughter care for her little girl, I keep my mouth shut – as much as is humanly possible for someone like me. Someone who is rumored to be the human incarnation of “Chatty Cathy.’’

When I think my daughter should hold the baby in a different way, I bite my tongue. When I think the baby could use another pass at the mushy peas, I zip it shut.

I live in constantly terror that somewhere in my daughter’s brain, there is a stash of all the mistakes I made with her as a first-time mother, and  they are just waiting for a chance to be brought out into the open.

Like the time I accidentally locked her in a running car and had to dash down our country road to the neighbors to call for help. “I’ll be back honey!’’ I screamed, then added: “Why doesn’t somebody invent a phone you carry with you at all times!?’’

Mostly, I am afraid she will remember The Day of the Disappearing Mittens.

She was about a year old and I had managed to get her fed and changed and belted into her car seat without any mishap.

Off we went to do errands. On the way home, we stopped at a car wash, which made her giggle with its swishing brushes and cascades of water.

I grabbed the car wash vacuum, pretending it was an elephant as I cleaned stray Cheerios off the seats and floor. She giggled more.

But as I leaned near her, the nozzle brushed her hand and its pink mitten.

“Whoosh!’’ That vacuum took the mitten and ate it whole.

I was stunned and she batted at the vacuum with the other hand, which also was in a mitten. But not for long.

“Whoosh!’’ we heard again.

Not to change the subject and distract everyone from my parenting mistakes, but I want to point out that this may explain why car wash vacuums are usually awful. They are stuffed up with clothing and young parents won’t want to own up to what is going on.

Anyway, back to 1982 and the vacuum debacle inside my car.

With her mittens gone, the baby stared me down. She knew Mommy had messed up.

“Mommy,’’ her big brown eyes declared. “I can’t talk yet. But a long time from now when you are lecturing me on the RIGHT way to raise my children, I will remember my dear departed mittens. And there will be a reckoning.’’

I am still waiting nervously for this to happen while I watch her grow into a wonderful mom. If my little granddaughter shows up one winter’s day without her mittens and she refuses to go with me to the carwash, I’ll know exactly what happened and what I intend to say to her mommy.

Absolutely nothing.


3 Responses to "The day of the Disappearing Mittens"

LOL – we always knew you were queen of the vacuum, but vacuuming you own daughter???!!!???

Hmmm . . . the queen of vacumming strikes again!

LOL! When I was a teenager, my friend and I used to babysit this kid whose older brother used to tease him with the vacuum cleaner! We still joke about the way he used to scream “I DON’T WANT TO BE VACUUMED!”

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