All seemed as it should be.
The stuffy nose belonged to Baby-girl. She came home from school earlier that day sounding a little congested, but she didn’t have a fever or a cough, and her spirits seemed fine, so we proceeded as planned and got ready to attend the concert that evening. The boys donned their church clothes and Baby-girl put on her Christmas dress.
As we were leaving, Baby-girl came to me, visibly upset and pointing at her nose.
“Mommy, my Ms sound funny. Listen. Mmmm,” she demonstrated, putting her face right in mine as she did. I stifled a laugh and attempted to assuage her fears.
And then, as we were walking out the door, I was struck with a childhood memory.
Would that I had not been so struck.
My memory was of a time when I was five and a flower girl for my aunt’s wedding. I don’t remember being sick, but I do remember that during a prayer, when I was standing up at the front of the church, I sneezed.
Let’s just say there was fallout.
I was unprepared.
You can imagine the predicament this put my observant mother in.
With that memory in mind, I grabbed my daughter’s little red purse-like bag, stuffed a few tissues in it, and instructed her to use them if she needed them.
Would that I had not given such instructions.
So, we arrived at the concert, and the children practiced for a few minutes while the parents exchanged pleasantries and found their seats. Then the elementary school students all took the stage.
All seemed right with the world until a few minutes into the concert, when I took out my phone to take a picture of Baby-girl. As I zoomed in, I noticed something.
She was singing with a tissue clenched tightly over her nose.
“Oh, I’m glad I gave her the tissues so she can blow her nose a minute,” I ignorantly thought.
Little did I know.
Baby-girl stood, for the duration, with a tissue manually attached to her face. You know, as if the nastiness were spewing forth without interruption, and her tissues were her only refuge from a mother who forces gravely ill children to sing carols and get the entire elementary school sick just in time for the holidays.
On my word, I saw her wipe her nose only twice in the four hours between the end of school and the beginning of the concert, and yet there she was, a tissue yoked, bound, and sealed to the lower half of her face for the entirety of the concert.
The nonexistent deluge appeared, to the audience, unending while in reality, Baby-girl was trying, futilely, to get her stuffy M sounds to clear up.
I am so pleased that I will hereafter be labeled as “the mother who brought her sick child to the school concert and infected an entire island just in time for Christmas.” Because, you know everyone in attendance that night who comes down with anything from a cold to the Ebola virus in the next two weeks will, secretly or otherwise, think they probably got it from that little girl whose mother must have rocks for brains. I should know, because were the situation reversed, I might think the same myself.
If there were a way to make a public announcement that the entire island would be guaranteed to hear, I’d probably sit down right now and craft my vindicatory statement. But as there is not, I’m becoming resigned to my fate, to a lifetime or at least a season of being shunned.
Just slap that scarlet letter on me and shun away.