Case Study: Does "mommy brain" exist?

Here's my story.

They were bored.

I could tell because they were taking a wet hacky sack and drawing a smiley face on the side of a building. Then one would whip the hacky sack at the face to make wet blots on it. "He's got acne," said the girl, looking at the blotchy face. "He's been in Nam," said a boy.

My daughter and I, on the other hand, were having an exciting day. We parked in front of the garage where youths often loiter. As I backed into a space she said, "There's an elephant! It's grey." "Where?" I said. "Right there," she said, looking toward the backs of the buildings across the parking lot. "Where?" I looked. All I could see was some graffiti. "Right there," she said. I didn't want to appear blind or dense. "Oh!" I said, and got out of the car.

We walked across the street, past the bored youth. "Do you know where elephants come from?" she asked. "Where?" I asked. "Africa!" she said. I was surprised. "That's right! What else lives in Africa?" "Cheetahs!" she immediately replied. Wow, this kid is a genius, I thought. "That's right! And giraffes live in Africa too!"

We went into the discount store. She threw her teddy bear and ran to pick it up again. I found a carton of milk dated 2 days before. She threw her teddy bear again. I bought the milk. It cost 99 cents. I put the penny in the leave-a-penny dish.

We walked back past the youths with the hacky sack. She held my hand and we crossed the street. I threw my purse in the car and rested the milk on the roof while I buckled her in. While I was leaning into the car, I took one more look from her perspective. Where was the elephant? I only saw cars, fences, buildings, concrete, graffiti. I got in the car.

I decided to hang a sharp U-turn to avoid Main Street. A couple coming down the sidewalk stared at me dully. I wondered if my turning radius was wide enough. I didn't want to mount the curb in front of the bored youths. I didn't want to look like a dork.

I decided I could make it. They were watching me. They were smiling, kind of a lot! I started the U-turn. They were fascinated. Once I knew I wasn't going to hit the sidewalk, I accelerated. I smiled back. There was a dull thud. The youth cheered! They were so happy. Whatever twisted amusement they were getting out of me was fine. Were they hitting my car with the hacky sack? I was NOT going to stop. We went home. I got out of the car to unbuckle my daughter.

I looked for my carton of milk. Oh my god. The milk is gone.

That's when I realized I broke my own rule. The rule, tried and true, is to never put anything on the roof of the car. But... it was worth the dollar to see their happy faces. I'm just sorry I kind of littered.

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