Undercover for my Brother
by Shannon Popkin
I have been known to do underwear checks at breakfast. I always thought that adding undies was a standard part of one’s morning routine. But my children seem to find the extra padding under their jeans an unnecessary nuisance. They don’t like the hassle. The absence doesn’t bother them. They think they can do without. But they cannot do without. Why? Because they have a mother.
“Let’s see your wears!” I would say, as I walked behind my little trio, all suspended on barstools and hovering over cereal bowls. They’d groan and giggle, but inevitably there would be one who was unable to produce that tiny patch of material evidence, proving that their unders were in place. “Up stairs!’ I’d say, pointing like a drill sergeant. “Unders are not optional.”
Somewhere along the way, I must have become less resolute about my morning checks. Perhaps my little stewards had inflated my confidence with their faithfulness. Or maybe our other checkpoints, such as teeth, hair and homework, had diverted my attention. Whatever the cause, I fell behind on checking, and so what happened in the doctor’s office should not have surprised me. But it did.
Child A was the one scheduled for a checkup. Child B was there simply because I had nowhere else for him to be. He wasn’t happy, but I told him, “We all have to make sacrifices for each other.” I was oblivious to the ominous nature of my words.
When the nurse ushered us into the tiny room, she told me, “Have Child A get undressed and hop up on the table. He can leave his underwear on.” By the alarmed look on Child A’s face, I could tell that there would be no underwear to leave on.
After the door closed behind the nurse, I asked incredulously, “You forgot your unders?” He shook his head up and down in tiny jerks. He was frozen in solemn horror. “Well, maybe from now on …” I intentionally let the sentence trail off.
I weighed the options. If I let these natural consequences play out, that desired habit of adding the extra padding each morning was sure to become firmly established. But would the deep scars of such trauma cost me thousands in counseling? Would Child A, as an old man, wag his finger at me and say, “It’s your fault that I’ve never kept a job or been able to commit. YOU’RE the one who made me sit on that table without my undies!”
One thing was for sure. If I suggested such a horror, his screams would be sure to hail the entire nursing staff. This tipped the scales toward plan B, which involved Child B. I turned to him and asked sweetly, “Do you have undies on?” He did, and proudly pulled back his tee shirt to disclose a tiny pinch of racecar material. Then I did something that only a mother would. I said, “Quick! Take them off and give them to your brother! Hurry, before the doctor comes in!”
Child B, plagued with a case of the giggles, quickly did what I asked and got redressed, minus the underwear, which he handed off to Child A.
With more speed than a fireman, Child A pulled on the racecar undies and ran to jump up on the table. He skidded into place just as the doctor turned the doorknob. We made it! I silently cheered and looked over at Child A with a knowing grin. It was then that I noticed that the newly obtained underwear, which were obviously the wrong size for him, were on backwards!
Shannon Popkin, her husband, Ken and their three kids, are thankful that they have each other- - especially when crisis arises (as it does on most days)! Connect with her at ShannonPopkin.com.