The three-hour drive to Kings Island was barely underway when a little voice from the back of the van cried out to its mother. The little voice was Maggie’s. What she said nearly threatened the entire day: “Mom. Abby’s only wearing flip flops.”
The reactions were as varied as they were predictable:
- Mary cried out, “Abby!”
- Mitch, whose concentration was on driving, turned to Mary to ask, “What did she say?”
- Sean, the older and thoughtful brother said, “Yeah, Abigael! Way to go, son.”
- Abby cried out, “Maggie!”
- Me? Well, I had seen and heard a lot of things in my nearly nine years as part of this family. This still ranks as one of my favorite moments because I laughed my butt off.
Mary was in full on Mom-mode now and was just shy of freaking out. “Abby, what the heck were you thinking? Where are your shoes? Why did you put on your flip flops?” Abby tried her best to answer each question, but between Mary’s stream of consciousness questions and Mitch – who now understood the situation – and I laughing like fools, the poor child didn’t stand a chance.
Mary turned back around in her seat and told Mitch, “Take this next exit. We have to get her some shoes.”
“Why?” Mitch wanted to know. “She’ll be okay in flip flops.”
“Are you kidding me? She’s not going to walk around Kings Island all day in flip flops. She needs a pair of shoes. I can get her a pair up here at Walmart.”
“Why can’t we just turn around, go home, and get her shoes? Abby! Where are your shoes at home?”
“Downstairs in the closet,” Abby replied to her father.
“There, you see? We’ll just turn around—“ Mitch started to say as he pulled onto the exit ramp, ostensibly to head back home..
“They don’t fit,”Abby interjected.
Mitch looked at his daughter in the rearview mirror while Mary turned completely around in her seat, both of them giving Abby looks of pure incredulity. They simultaneously asked the question, “They don’t fit?”
“No,” Abby meekly answered. Something in her voice told me she was very close to crying. I stifled my laughter to keep from pushing her over the edge.
“Go to Walmart,” Mary, her voice dripping with exasperation, directed Mitch.
“But—“ Mitch started to protest.
“Just… go to Walmart,” she repeated. She turned her attention back to Abby. “How long have you known they don’t fit?”
“This morning,” Abby answered.
Mary paused a moment to allow Abby’s answer to sink in. “This morning? You found out… this morning?”
“Yes, Mom,” Abby said, barely holding back the tears. “I wore my flip flops everywhere all summer and never put my shoes on until this morning and now they don’t fit.” As funny as it sounded, it made perfect sense to me. With the possible exception of Sean, the entire family wore flip flops almost everywhere they went during the summer. Mary shook her head and turned back around as she muttered something under her breath.
Mitch pulled into the Walmart parking lot and dropped mother and daughter off at the entrance. “This won’t take long,” Mary claimed as she opened her door. “We’ll be back in a minute.” She grabbed hold of a reluctant Abby and darted inside.
One minute turned into two, then into five, then into ten. Those of us still in the van were getting restless and ready to send out a search party. Before we could that, though, mother and daughter finally emerged from inside. Mary gave us a look that told us not to say a word as she power walked to the van, holding Abby’s hand and pulling her along. Abby, wearing a new pair of royal blue and neon orange athletic shoes, had obviously been crying.
Mitch, in an act of pure bravery, asked his wife, “What took you so long?” The question left me stunned at his audacity and amazed at the apparent size of his gonads.
“Welllll,” Mary said without removing Mitch’s gonads, “we looked through all of the girls shoes and didn’t find her size.”
“Okay, but I saw her wearing —“ Mitch said before getting cut off for the third time.
“She’s wearing a pair of boys shoes and she’s not happy about it,” Mary told him.
Behind me I could hear the quiet pouting and crying of my goddaughter. “I hate them,” she said just loud enough for her siblings and me to hear. It was a situation we would one day look back on and laugh about, but laughing at that moment was the last thing called for.
“Okay, is everybody ready? Let’s go!” Mary said with as much cheer as she could muster. “We still have plenty of time to have a good day.”
Once we were back on the road, the rest of the trip from Fort Wayne to Kings Island was thankfully uneventful. Once we were inside the park, though….