Archive of ‘Stories from real life’ category


Brian was swishing Tori back and forth in the pool, her legs carving a wake through the water.

Feeling goofy, I ducked down into the stinging chlorine and surfaced inside the loop of his arms, directly in front of her giggling face.

“Mommy, I want to go underwater! I want to put my face in!”

This from the girl who hates getting water in her face.

“Are you sure?” I asked doubtfully.

“Yeah yeah yeah yeah,” she said, tearing loose from her daddy and throwing her arms around my neck.

“Alright. We’ll try it. But you have to trust me. Do you trust me?”

She nodded through her grin.

“Okay, then close your eyes and your mouth.”

She squeezed her eyes shut, but opened her jaw up wide.

“No, no, no. Close it. Close your mouth.”

She opened it wider.

“Nope. Wrong way. Here, I’ll show you.”

And I ducked her a little way under the water. Just enough so she could feel it against her lip. She spluttered, but grinned.

“See? You’ve got to close your mouth!”

“More, mommy!”

“Okay, then. Close it up!”

She did. Mostly. But she was smiling too big to manage it all the way.

I decided the only way she was going to learn was through experience. So I ducked her farther under. Up to her eyelashes. Just for a second.

She came up hacking. Hard. She wasn’t smiling anymore.

“I cold, mommy. I don’t like the water anymore!”

Feeling awful, I hustled her out of the water.

“Okay, baby. We’ll get out. No more water until you’re ready.”

She curled up into my chest, shivering.

Heading back to our beach chairs, I bundled her cold little body up in a towel and sat down in the sun, heating her up the best way I knew how.

Within seconds, she was asleep, leaving me to lie back and worry about her total shutdown.

Had I done permanent damage? Scared her away from ever wanting to swim again? That would sure suck.

But eventually, the warm sun did its work on me, too. It drove the tension from my limbs, decorating the inside of my eyelids with a fireworks display of bursting colors. I relaxed under her sleeping body  and followed her into dreamland.

I awoke to a sleepy Tori patting my face.

“Wake up, mommy. Wake up!”

Then, as I gazed blearily at her, she struggled out of her towel nest and tugged at my arm.

“Let’s go to the big girl pool!”

Within seconds we were back in the water, splashing and playing. Then she saw the water slide. The two story tall water slide.

“I want to go slide! I want to go slide!”

“But you’ll get your face wet!”

“Okay. Can I go slide?”

So much for that worry.

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The Tale of the Pink Cupcake.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wanted a cupcake. A lemon cupcake, with yellow and pink frosting on top.

Pink or white, cupcakes are all tasty

She wanted it with all her heart…until she saw the brownies.

Then she wanted a brownie and a cupcake, and when she couldn’t have both, she threw herself on the floor, screaming, and had to be carried out of the restaurant.

After her daddy toted the girl out, her mommy, rationalizing that she really would love to have a little piece of brownie herself, added one to the order and had it all bagged to go.

A few minutes later, the still sniffling little girl opened up the tantalizingly black cupcake box…only to start howling again.

“I wanted the PINK cupcake,” she screamed.

The cupcake, unfortunately, did not have pink frosting, but only white. The flustered mommy had forgotten to specify exactly which cupcake she had to have.

What followed was an epic tantrum of proportions rarely seen.

The little girl screamed and howled and beat her fists on the ground. And when her mommy bent to pick her up, she kicked her right in the face.

That meant she spent the next four blocks being carried by her daddy like an overgrown infant in a fashion that meant she couldn’t pinch or hit or kick.

Her mommy and daddy, veteran parents that they were, took it in stride. They saw the half-hidden giggles of passersby as the sympathetic oh-we’ve-been-there reactions that they were, and even offered to give her away a time or two. Unfortunately, they got no takers.

Well, that little girl, she screamed all the way down the street. She screamed while being put in her car seat. She screamed because the music was too loud and the wind was too, well, windy. And when, 20 minutes later, her mommy asked her why she was still screaming, she answered (still screaming), “I DON’T KNOW!”

At which point her mommy’s heart melted (for she knew exactly what that little girl meant), and went to sit beside her daughter, head in the three-year-old’s lap so she could run her hands through her mommy’s hair.

Eventually she calmed, and her parents turned the car toward home.

She dozed, but woke when they finally turned into their driveway.

“Mommy, I want my cupcake now,” she said. As if the last horrifying 45 minutes had never happened.

A little while later, she sat at the kitchen table, grinning happily as she shared her pink frosting-free cupcake with her mommy.

“This is ‘licious,” she proclaimed, not quite managing the difficult word.

They finished the cupcake amid laughter and smiles, and went on to snuggle and swing and laugh away the rest of the afternoon.

There’s a lesson here, folks. Sometimes we’re so focused on what we wish we had that we simply can’t enjoy what’s in front of us.

And that’s a damn shame.

Enjoy your cupcake, whatever the flavor. It’s sure to be a damn sight more delicious than the bitterness that will otherwise eat your brain.

Morality tale over.



The Pick-Up.

Seeing the yellow turn arrow, I floor it, screeching into a left hand turn before the light can turn all the way red. The car fishtails tightly, but I ignore it, focused on the street ahead of me.

It’s 5:23. I have seven minutes before daycare goes into overtime.

The last two miles fly by, and at last I’m pulling into the driveway. Ripping the keys from the ignition, I click across the wet pavement and open the creaky wooden door. A blast of hot, play dough and finger paint-scented air greets me. Kicking off my shoes by Tori’s wooden cubby, I stop to take a breath.

Sitting inside are today’s treasures—a paper plate owl and a Christmas list collage. I pick up the Santa-festooned paper and giggle when I see a coffee maker on the list.

My toddler wants a coffee maker. How awesome is that?

Still giggling, I pad into the interior of the house. Although the room is dark, I can hear the happy chaos of high-pitched toddler voices shouting and their teachers directing beckoning to me from the back of the house. I cross through the kitchen, eyes already drinking in the sight of my golden-haired princess reading with a friend on the pint-sized couch.

I stop at the white gate that keeps them sequestered and wait.

“Tori’s mommy is here!” a chorus of little voices announces.

She looks up, eyes far away. Then she sees me and they sparkle to life.

“Mommy!” she calls, and skips over to the gate, laughing excitedly.

Not bothering to open it, I lift her directly into my arms instead. She clings briefly, then starts chattering about her day.

“I got a sticker, mommy! Come see!”

“You did? That’s great! But wait, let me…”

She squirms down and bolts around the corner, still gabbing at me.

Before following, I peak back into the room.

“Did she do okay today?”

Her kindhearted teacher hesitates. “Well, yeah. A little crabby, but not too bad. She’s doing better.”

I smile, every ounce of relief I feel pouring out through my face.

“Every day she doesn’t pinch is a good day in my book!”

Before I can say more, Tori’s pulling me back.

“Look, mommy, look! I got a sticker!”

I pull down her chart and hand it to her.

“You sure did! Good job! Are you ready to go home?”

In answer, she starts jumping up and down, little feet thumping on the floor underneath her.


The last of my stress melts in the face of her joy.

“Okay, let’s go see puppy!”

“And daddy too?”


“And Kiwi and Oliver?”

“You bet.”

And so my real life begins.



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