The Things We’d Rather Not Remember

Childhood.

Some memories we look back upon fondly and smile, thinking on simpler, more innocent times. Other memories, we have no choice but to double over in a fit of embarrassed laughter. Funny thing: so often it’s the unflattering memories that stick with us.

I still remember one such story quite well. It was the summer of 1994, I was eight years old, and my parents had both taken on new responsibilities in their work, leaving them unavailable to play with my sister and me for a big chunk of the day. Their solution? Daycare. There would be fun activities, food, and lots of other kids for us to play with. It seemed like a dream. However, there was one thing they did not count on: The Playground Nazi. This particular chaperone was in charge of supervising every age group during their playground time. Usually she stood on her perch, watching like a hawk to make sure no one pushed a friend too hard on the swings or punched a friend too hard in the face – normal playground monitoring. My problems with her started when I had a very important question to ask, “Excuse me, Ms. Playground Nazi, can I go to the restroom?” A simple and harmless request, right? Not to her. This embittered thirty-something looked at me and saw a little demon on his way to pour a bag of arsenic into the lemonade jug. There was no way my bladder could be full, even after the huge lunch they just gave us. Ms. Nazi offered a firm and unwavering, “No.”

I’ve always been sure of myself. If I need a haircut, I go get one. If I need to end a relationship, I end it. Similarly, if I tell you I have to pee, I am not joking. I had a good sense about these things at the tender age of eight, but Ms. Nazi did not usually come across such certainty in her dealings with other children. Other children were not me, but I realized that she probably was not insightful enough to realize that. I did not fight her. I did not cry. I just resolved to hold it in. Ms. Nazi would learn soon enough.

I walked back over to my two friends by the tire swing and resumed the invigorating conversation we were having on the most recent episode of Full House. I tried my best to keep up, but gritting my teeth and jumping around from foot to foot took up a lot of my attention. I was trying my best to control things, when I realized the conversation had stopped. I looked up and saw the looks on my friends’ faces. Two girls, faces distorted with laughter, pointing towards a growing dark spot on the in-seam of my pants. At this point I knew I lost the battle against my bladder.

I walked up to Ms. Nazi again and without saying a word, pointed at the offending splotch on my pants. She gasped, shocked at an eight-year-old brat beating her at her game. For all her posturing, Ms. Nazi wasn’t actually that great at handling problems when they arose. She grabbed me under the arms and carried me to the day care owner’s office, grateful to have me off her hands. The owner, in stark contrast to Ms. Nazi, was the most adorable substitute grandma you could ever find. Ever prepared, she walked over to her cabinet, pulled out a clean pair of pants. I was afraid that she’d send me back outside with the others, but no. Grandma Daycare Owner let me stay in her office and draw pictures of unicorns and rainbows until my mom arrived.

Mom never sent me back there.

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    • Muv
    • January 28th, 2010

    Oh, I can just feel for you in this situation…..what a shame there are any kind of Nazis, but especially Playground ones. Thank goodness for the sub grandmother!!…..loads of love…..

    • Teresa
    • January 29th, 2010

    This is such a tender story…..ah, the memories of these kind of things do have a way of “staining our brains”….

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