I’m usually wearing my baby and holding the tiny hand of my preschooler when I bring my eldest daughter to Girl Scouts. I try to have my hair combed, lipstick on and smile towards a good first impression. So many new moms, families and faces at each meeting, so many feelings akin to my Kindergartner’s on the school yard. It’s not shyness, just an eager willingness to make a good first impression. So, when I totaled a Girl Scout’s grandmothers’ car at the cookie order pick up, I wanted to crawl under a case of Thin Mints. Or, at the very least go back to an hour earlier, before I cared about strewn mittens, hats and scarves.
Earlier: my Girl Scout and I returned home with 87 boxes of cookies. As we walked in the door we realized we’d forgotten four boxes of Lemon Cremes. It was long past baby’s nap time and I hadn’t yet eaten lunch. With my one year old under one arm my three year old’s sleepy hand in my hand, I stepped over an upended box of mittens, hats and scarves. Up the stairs, I began a long and wordy tale about what happens when things don’t get put away. From below the stairs my husband shouted, “It was me. I emptied the box in the middle of the floor.”
I actually inhaled as if to say, “The horror.”
The entire time I nursed my babe in the bedroom’s shade-taut darkness, I grumbled to myself about having to pick up after everyone. When my babes were asleep, I sped out the driveway in search of my four Lemon Creme boxes. I was still hung up on our mitten, hat and scarf box thrown across living room rug’s middle.
I parked at driveway’s end, blocking in a few Girl Scouts and their minivans and hybrids. In less than two minutes, I’d found my stray Lemon Cremes amongst what seemed to be fifty-two cases of Samoas and Thin Mints. I waved to the Girl Scouts, dads, moms, and grandmothers toting cookie boxes. The rare February sun blinded and reflected off my side mirrors. In the rearview mirror I saw a barn’s brown shadow. I turned the radio on, began singing along to a song and felt cool in my minivan loaded with cookies.
And then the crunch of a Girl Scout’s grandmothers’ car. And the horror on the faces of cookie holders.
I passed over my usual swearing-angry-east-coaster phase, and went straight into a hysterical, sobbing phase. It took me a while to lift my head off the steering wheel. I felt like I was six. I felt like I’d been caught stealing the Lemon Cremes.
Down my tears’ rapids a muffled, “I’m sorry” hung itself on repeat until the Girl Scout grandmother said, “quit cryin’ and hand over the insurance card.” She seemed unfazed and explained she’d been in an accident with the other side of her car a few days ago. Through soaked eyes I saw my minivan had made it so her driver’s side doors wouldn’t open. The damage done was, most likely, more than her car is worth.
I called the police:
“Do you need an ambulance? Jaws of life? Is there an altercation or intoxication? No, well, exchange information and call me later to let me know how it goes.”
Policemen on a tiny island don’t get worked up over much.
I can imagine the badge the Girl Scouts could earn remaining still amidst my show of emotionally-preoccupied recklessness. On the short and teary drive home, I passed a few other moms. Instead of my usual wave, they received a hand raised with clutched, drenched tissue. At least the sky was blue.
Once inside my home, I saw the mitten, hat and scarf box was put away. I couldn’t believe I’d put any energy into caring about that. My babes were all asleep as my husband emerged with a hug.
“Did you get hurt? Did you hurt anyone? It could have been worse – you could have hurt a Girl Scout. It’s just a minivan; it’s just a deductible; it’s just a bumper.”
Goodness, greatness. Love him. Love us.
Husbands on a tiny island don’t get worked up over much.
I couldn’t believe I had been angry about the mittens, the hats and the scarves.
Within an instant, my husband was on the ground with tools and minivan’s bumper. He smoothed out the ferocious dent, reinforced it from behind with duct tape and used a handy dandy thing called a Magic Eraser to take off the other car’s paint.
Now, except for a tiny scratch, I can’t really tell I bashed into another car. A grandmother’s car. At Girl Scout cookie pick up, nonetheless. I need a bumper sticker to cover up the tiny scuff. Maybe it can be some sort of Girl Scout Mommy freak out badge.