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 fishing for princess panties


I’m sure I looked as demented as I felt. Up to my elbows in warm sudsy water, fishing amongst the soggy clothing, I muttered spelled curse words at the washing machine.

 Finally on the downhill side of the potty-training battle, I had offered a bribe. I bought days-of-the-week “princess” panties—yes, complete with the over-marketed, over-sappy princesses provided by the Disney empire—and for every day of true potty-using effort and reasonable success, our in-house princess would receive a pair of aforementioned panties. More coveted than the Hello Kitty or Care Bear undergarments we already possess, princess attire is the pinnacle of toddler panty status. The proffered bribe received a wide-eyed gasp and a reverently whispered “Wow!”

 We carefully chose the panties for tomorrow’s day of the week. Sleeping Beauty adorned the Tuesday Princess underwear. We admired them and discussed the requirements for their receipt. Then, since they were new, and somewhat starchy, I stuck them in with a washload, promising they would be ready for the evening’s bestowal.

 With the washer swishing in the background, we settled down to color with our glitter crayons. And, then it happened. “Click, click, GROK. Click, click, GROK.”

 This was not just the sound of an off-balance washload. This was a scream of pain, a torturous shriek, a death knell.

 I stopped the washer. I restarted it. “Click, click, click, GROOKKK.” I stopped it again.

 I walked back to the table. “So, sweetie, it looks like the washer is broken. We might have to wait another day to wear your new panties; I can’t finish washing them.”

 The bottom lip started to quiver. Tears welled in the big blue eyes.

 And, so I found myself fishing out every single pair of teeny panties out of the water and soap-filled broken appliance.

 Monday. Belle, AKA Beauty.

 Friday. Cinderella.

 That same pair of pajamas keeps floating up. Toss them in the laundry room sink.

 Sunday. Jasmine.

 My fingers are starting to wrinkle and my hangnail is swelling. Where are those damn panties.

 Thursday. Saturday. Wednesday. I had found every pair except Tuesday. Damn.

 The kitchen timer went off. The Sponge Bob pasta for mac ‘n’ cheese was ready. “Mama, the timer beeping!”

 I rinsed my hands, went to the kitchen, drained the pasta, mixed in butter, milk and dried orange stuff. I returned to my watery task.

 I swished. I swirled. I fished and groped. F. U. C. K. I don’t say swear words anymore. I just spell them. Grabbing a dishpan, I started removing clothing pieces one by one. The second to last piece remaining: the Tuesday Sleeping Beauty drawers.

 I don’t want to be the mommy who promised sparkly princess panties in reward for a day of dry Hello Kitty ones, and failed to come through. I washed them by hand in the sink and ran the dryer with the lone pink lingerie tossing around. As demented as I have to be to get to that point, I want to be the good mommy.


ŠAnn MacDonald