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Lost in Suburbia classic column: Stuck on me

Tracy Beckerman
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St. James Plaindealer

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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Years ago, I was in line at the supermarket with my then 5-year old daughter and she caught sight of one of those celeb tabloid magazines displayed in the aisle.

“Oh, Mommy!” she exclaimed. “You look just like the movie stars on the cover of this magazine.”

Naturally, I was flattered. Then I took a closer look at the magazine in question. Spread across the cover were pictures of big, flabby butts and the headline screamed, “Stars with Cellulite.”

This was probably my first warning that kids can be brutally honest. Unfortunately, I have learned, they are not always this way when you want or need them to be.

Such was the case one morning when I was feeling atypically domestic and decided to send everyone off to school with a healthy breakfast. I put out a big bowl of cut-up fruit and made spinach and goat cheese omelets. Even I, She-Who-Doesn’t-Eat-Breakfast, tried to set a good example and had some fruit and an omelet, myself.

I hurried kid number one into the car and drove him off to school.

“Bye!” I said, planting a kiss on my son’s cheek. “Have a great day!”

He gave me a funny look and stared at me.

“Um, Mom …”

“What?” I asked, impatiently pushing him toward the door so I could do the next school shift.

“Uh …” he grinned and shook his head. “Nevermind.” Then he left.

Next I dropped off my daughter, and curiously, had the exact same conversation with her.

Shrugging it off to typical odd teenage behavior, I went about the rest of my errands for the day. At the dry cleaners I smiled and said hello. The dry cleaner raised her eyebrows and looked away. At the coffee shop I smiled and said hello. The coffee lady gave me my change and looked away. At the bank I smiled and said hello. The bank teller smiled back and then quickly looked away.

Finally, I went to the post office and smiled and said hello. The postal worker, who is pretty much as brutally honest as my kids, looked at me and said, “Did you know you have a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth?”

I whipped out my compact and looked in the mirror. It wasn’t just a piece of spinach: It was practically a whole spinach leaf. And it wasn’t merely stuck in my teeth: it lay directly across one of my two front teeth, making me look like a witch with one tooth missing.

I realized immediately that both my kids had seen the spinach earlier that morning and had chosen not to tell me.

When I picked up my son from school later that day, I glared at him.

“How come you didn’t tell me I had a big piece of spinach stuck in my teeth this morning?”

He grinned. “I thought you were saving it for a snack!”

This is a repeated Lost in Suburbia column, which has appeared in GateHouse Media newspapers since 2008. As Tracy Beckerman’s main column is shifting focus - her kids are grown and she has moved back to the city - we are rerunning her earlier work for readers who may have missed these the first time around. You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tracybeckerman.