Last week, my daughter Esty and I were exiting Ridgedale, exhausted and laden with shopping bags.
“Mommy, I don’t think we parked here,” Esty said when we reached the parking lot.
“Quiet, I’m concentrating on finding the car.” My daughter obediently trudged behind me as I searched for it in vain.
“We didn’t park here,” she repeated.
“Of course, we did. We parked at Sears.”
“But I remember seeing Nordstrom in the parking lot, too,” Esty replied.
I could feel the beginnings of a headache, and also, a full bladder to boot. “Honey, there is only one Sears parking lot…”
“ONE.” I held up my finger in case she missed the point. “Since our car is not here, it could only mean that someone has stolen it.”
Esty’s hand made contact with her forehead. “Oh, Mommy…”
“Don’t worry,” I said, directing her to the entrance of the mall. “I’m the parent. I am in control. I got this.” Whipping out my cell phone, I dialed my husband’s number. “Daniel, you need to save us. The car’s been stolen.”
“You lost it again?!”
I clenched my teeth. “That was one time six years ago and I had pregnancy brain so it doesn’t even count. Now haul your tuchus over to the entrance of Sears at Ridgedale. Some of us have full bladders.”
Like a gift from heaven, a security car suddenly pulled onto the curb near where we’re sitting. Being the spiritual creature that I am, I concluded that this must be a sign. G-d had sent me help in the form of a Somali cop in a burka.
“Hi!” I waved to the cop as she came out of her vehicle. “My car’s been stolen.”
Esty shook her head. “No, it hasn’t.”
“Quiet. Respect your elders,” I snapped.
The mall cop looked at me. “What?”
“Not you, my daughter,” I said. Just then, a second security car pulled up and a male officer appeared.
“Wait here.” She walked to the other officer and conferred with him. I hopped from foot to foot while trying not to picture waterfalls or toilets.
“You think your car has been stolen?” the male cop said, approaching me.
“Correction: I know my car’s been stolen.”
“You saw someone taking it?”
“Well no, but it’s not here. Ergo, it’s been stolen.”
“Uh-huh.” He took out a notepad and pen. “Model and license plate number?”
“2007 silver Toyota Highlander, plate number RKZ 718.”
“Mommy,” Esty said, tugging on my sleeve, “it’s 454 MRZ.”
“Honey bun,” I said patiently, “I think I know better than you my license plate number.” I looked at the cop. “Kids these days – they think they know everything.”
The cop cleared his throat. “Actually, her number makes more sense because in the state of Minnesota the plates…”
“Wait, now. You believe a 10-year-old over me?”
Before the cop can respond, Esty added, “Also, our car hasn’t been stolen. We’re just in the wrong parking lot.”
“Which one is your car at?” The cop asked, kneeling down to her level. I rolled my eyes.
“The Sears parking lot by Nordstrom.”
Here we go again…”I explained there’s only one Sears parking lot,” I said, “but she—”
“Actually, there are two,” the lady cop interrupted.
“West and east,” the second cop added, not bothering to hide his smirk. He turned back to Esty, his pen poised. “What was that license number again?”
Feeling like a complete idiot, I kept my mouth shut while my daughter took over. “It’s 454 MRZ. My mother gave you the license plate number from like, ten years ago, back when I was a baby.”
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more humiliating…
“Yeah, that makes sense,” the cop said, pocketing his notepad.
Daniel pulled up to the curb just as the lady cop offered to drive us to the other parking lot. I thanked them for their help and left.
“Tatty!” Esty ran to his car. “Mommy is all confused – the car isn’t stolen, it’s just in a different parking lot, and she gave the cops the old license plate number!”
“Is that true?” Daniel asked as I got into his car.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I muttered.
“I think someone owes me an apology!” Esty sang from the backseat as Daniel started driving.
“Sorry,” I grumbled. Even to my own ears, I sounded like a sulky teenager who couldn’t have sounded less sorry if she tried.
I sighed. “For not believing you.”
“I forgive you, Mommy,” Esty said benevolently. “Just remember to listen to me in the future. Okay?”
“It still might be stolen!” I said, clinging to the hope that it was.
But it wasn’t. My car soon came into view, losing any possibility of saving a vestige of my dignity.
Daniel thinks the moral of this story is that he needs to get me long-term care life insurance, while Esty believes the lesson is to always trust her. My boys said it means I shouldn’t leave the house without them in tow. Personally, I think it’s a reminder that when life gets rough, it’s okay to lean on someone else – even if that someone else is half my size who until a mere eight years ago, thought nothing of crapping in her pants.