I had just heard the tale about a conundrum that my little family had found themselves in when they were out for a recent dinner at our favorite beach eatery. It was just the three of them, I was busy
The one thing that stinks about this place, literally and figuratively, is the bathroom situation.
You have to walk through the lovely, welcoming interior with its comfy couches and warm wooden barstools and baskets of games like rock’em sock’em robots and checkers, and continue past the kegs and the chalkboard and the kitchen door right out to the back alley. The back alley is gross and creepy and accessible from the street, and that is where you go when you have to pee.
So, my husband and my boy and my girl and my dumb dog were sitting outside at a picnic table, and my girl announced that she had to go to the bathroom. My girl fancies herself to be part camel, so by the time she says that she has to go, it is a true emergency.
My girl likes rainbows and puppies and smiley faces and swirly hearts. My girl does not like back alleys.
My husband was encumbered with the dumb dog, who outweighs our boy by a good 50 pounds and could easily tear the roots off of any attempt at tethering. My girl was desperate, and so her chivalrous 10 year old brother not only walked her to the back alley, but escorted her INTO the ladies room! I was quite touched to hear of this act of heroism by my boy – this boy on the cusp of adolescence with all of its corresponding rules of behavior.
So I tapped on his shoulder to get his attention when he was playing the keyboard with the headphones on, and I thanked him for being such a good brother to his little sister. He smiled and accepted my gratitude, gave me a hug, and said: “She’s going to give me ten bucks!”
Part of me found this hilarious, and of course it made perfect sense. He would never go into the ladies room, let alone go out of his way to provide assistance to another human, especially his little sister, unless the promised reward was magnificent. Ten bucks.
My husband and I both recoiled at this tacit agreement that had been negotiated, and said to each other that it was ridiculous. My girl should not have had to bribe her brother, he should have helped her just because she needed his help. It’s what families do. Ten bucks? She started to backpedal: “I wanted to make it like 2 or 3 bucks, but I didn’t think he’d do it!”
But she had made a deal, and when the family conversation started to get heated, he argued: “You swore to God!” And I could totally see her, intent in her conviction that it was well worth a crisp Andrew Jackson to get him where she wanted him – where she needed him – into the ladies room with her.
We were at a stalemate - my husband thought the deal should be nullified on principal, but I felt that my girl needed to be somewhat accountable for the promise she had made. It was a scene so chock-full of juicy character building possiblilities, we could have made a lifetime movie.
In the end, the kids worked out a compromise. My boy was rewarded with a box of thin mints, the cost of which was split between my husband and my girl. Later that night, I ate a few more than half the box of cookies.