“Grazing Crazy O’s” by Renee Hughes

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Mom.”

Intent on listening to the speaker, I jerked in my seat when something warm and solid brushed up my calves. Curious, I searched the floor around my feet and saw small hands picking at my legs. Upon bending all the way over, I found a tyke sprawled out on the floor, attempting to remove the dots from my textured pantyhose.

I turned and pointed at the boy to alert his parents. His dad retrieved him from the floor. “Oops, sorry,” he apologized.

I wondered why parents were unable to control their kids. The answer to that question arrived a decade later after our son’s birth.

My son’s double overnight feedings exhausted me from the start. That should have been a clue Michael was going to be a hearty and frequent eater. Errands with him in tow required a fully stocked diaper bag. After Michael’s teeth came in, I packed non-messy healthy treats, like dry cereal, to keep him happy and his tummy full.

On one trip, the two of us were going to attend a seminar. When we approached the building, a sign on the door forbade food, but I ignored it. Surely, the prohibition exempted nourishment for a toddler.

The event seating was in rows, and there were many of them. We chose seats near the rear of the building to allow for a quick exit, if needed.

Once we were settled in our seats, Michael rummaged through the diaper bag. He looked at me and quietly mouthed the words, “O’s, Mama, O’s.”

But he was quick and found the plastic container before I did. Michael shook the container at me, which made the cereal rattle noisily. “O’s, O’s, O’s!” he said aloud this time, drawing stares and knowing half-smiles from those seated nearby. Heat spread up my neck to my ears and cheeks after I realized we had morphed into the family with the nylon-dot-picking kiddo.

crazy osI quickly popped open the lid on the container, and my young son dug in, cramming a handful of cereal into his mouth. His nose wrinkled up, and then he sneezed. The muffled snort caught my attention because I suspected the results of that sound—flying debris.

A lady, who was impeccably dressed and had a massive bouffant, was seated directly in front of us. Her hair was styled so high that she must have used a half can of hairspray on it. But, unbeknownst to her, Michael’s half-eaten O’s now decorated the back of her voluminous, over-teased and glued hairdo.

“O’s, Mama,” Michael said, just as he reached up to pick a piece of cereal off her head.

“No, don’t,” I admonished, handing him the container of cereal.

With my toddler redirected, I lightly plucked cereal from the back of the woman’s head. Suddenly, in an abrupt motion on her part, she turned to stare at me. I smiled back innocently. Her eyes searched my face with suspicion then her head swiveled forward.

The retrieved cereal in my hand had escaped unnoticed. She couldn’t have felt my fingers tenderly harvesting the O’s, I worried to myself. I had never trusted those high-rise hairstyles—I knew they likely concealed something. An acquaintance once told me women inserted oatmeal boxes under the teased hair to reinforce the structures. Maybe her hair has a life of its own and betrayed me, alerting her to my intrusion?

Around us, muffled chuckles began to emanate from onlookers who had witnessed my initial cereal harvest. I motioned with an index finger over my lips to hush them. Embarrassed by my audience, I tried to discretely remove additional cereal, but the hair security alarm alerted the woman again. Louder giggles arose from those near us, so much so that I finally gave up.

Michael, age 3

Michael, age 3

After the event concluded, the woman stood up, and O’s loosened from her bouffant. I guess the hair demons decided to reject the sticky cereal. O’s confetti rained down as she paraded toward the exit in all her finery. Yes! We have escaped discovery.

That’s when my eyes shifted downward in time to see Michael following her, collecting freed cereal off the carpeting and popping the fallen O’s into his mouth.

Mortified by Michael’s floor grazing, I snatched him into my arms and pried open his mouth to extricate the contraband. He stuck his mush-covered tongue out at me, and then gave me a raspberry—bits of gummy O’s sprayed all over my navy-blue dress. Michael flashed a toothy grin, evoking a spontaneous smile and headshake from me.

“If a 20-month-old can do this much damage,” I muttered to myself, “what might the terrible twos hold in store?”

Why did I even ask?

Moms 250RGBRenee Hughes has humorous stories in four Not Your Mother’s Books. From a zany memoir under consideration for publication, she foresees a movie that crosses The Glass Castle with Duck Dynasty. A CPA, she lives with her hubby and rescued bunny in St. Louis, Missouri. Now that her two children are grown, her passions have expanded to encompass writing, acoustic guitar, state-side mission endeavors and indie alternative music. Visit her website at www.squirrelb8.com.

Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Mom.” The book is filled with 64 hilarious stories by moms raising their families. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/12jKK6x) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1vzYbfI).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.