It came to mind a few weekends ago when we decided to take the whole family skiing. This has only recently become an idea that presents more fun than work in our world so we loaded up the car one Sunday morning and drove a few hours to the closest kid-friendly ski hill. When we arrived we realized we were not the only ones with the same idea on a holiday weekend. The place was packed but festive in that bluebird day kind of way so we got ourselves through a few lines and headed for the slopes.
Seth took Eliza up the lift and I stayed with Lucille on the bunny slope. This particular ski area has what they call a magic carpet that carries kiddos up a small hill and deposits them at the top so they might slowly work their way down a pretty small incline. Lucille rode the magic carpet (think airport moving sidewalk) up a few times, skied down a few times (with no control and an inability to stop) then she ate it one good time.
“I hate skiing,” she screamed. “I don’t want to go back up.” Then she began what would be an hours-long game of flop all over mama until mama was ready to scream.
A few minutes into this game I asked if she wanted a snack. She said she did so we got our food bag and settled in on a large sunny deck. After a little pick-me-up she decided she would give skiing another try.
Then she peed her pants.
We made our way through the crowded lodge, down to the bathrooms in ski gear. We stood in line and when we finally got a stall, I perched her on the toilet to finish what she’d started. As she did, I did what any good mother would do and shimmied her ski pants and long johns off and snaked her wet panties down past her ankles. I put them in my pocket. When I pulled her pants up she began to complain that she didn’t like the feel of her long johns on her “pagina,” her favorite made up word for vagina.
“Well babe, you’re panties are wet,” I said. “And you didn’t like the feel of that either.”
“I want my panties,” she cried.
At this point, I was on my knees in a too-small stall, the floor of which was soaked with melting snow. There was a line out the door waiting on us and Lucille was moving toward a fever pitch.
I dressed her, held her hand and led her out of the bathroom but not before she threatened to sink to the nasty floor and writhe. I could feel it coming.
“Whining is not helping,” I told her as we left the bathroom. “Let’s just get outside.”
As the bathroom door was closing I heard a woman in line say, “Poor little girl.”
Poor little girl…poor little girl? Are you freaking kidding me, I thought.
This is the poor little girl who was just a few hours earlier on the drive from Missoula throwing markers at her sister because she was bored in the car. She was the poor little girl who was using so much potty talk we had to pull over and have talk at a tiny crossroads on the way that morning. This poor little girl had been rolling around in the snow after taking three, maybe four, runs on the magic carpet.
In my own internal rage I wanted to ask this woman if she had children, had she ever been in this place with a four-year-old who just isn’t that into cooperating. I wanted to ask her if she wanted to carry around some pee covered panties in her pocket for the rest of the day.
Poor little girl my ass.
Lucille and I made it back out to the magic carpet which had, for all intents and purposes, lost its magic for us. I tried one more time to get miss floppy pants onto the moving belt to send her to the top of the hill. Lucille was flailing, I was frustrated. Then, out of nowhere came a mom I know from Missoula. She picked Lucille up and set her on the magic carpet without even asking. She just saw what I needed and did it.
“It’s our first time here too. Have a great day.” These are the words she said out loud to me but her actions said: Girl, I’ve got your back, pee pee panties and all.
And like that she was gone. My kid was riding to the top of the hill. She skied down one more time then we popped her skis off and went inside the lodge for a cookie and hot chocolate, the towel officially thrown in but my faith in one mama getting another one’s back completely renewed.