Her name wasn’t always Anne, and this is a long, strange story.
A few months ago, we were walking through Ikea when Mary stopped, gasped, and exclaimed, “Is that a SHOEHORN? I have always wanted one of these!” They were only 99 cents, and she really does struggle to get her shoes on in the morning, so I was happy to oblige. She tap danced with it as though it were some mix between a cane and baton, and sang some They Might Be Giants. Yep, she’s her mother’s daughter.
But I hadn’t really noticed any escapades with the shoehorn after that until this past week. Ethan’s teacher had just sent a note saying they were doing a unit on simple machines and he needed to bring a “student-made marshmallow catapult.” But by the time they’d be back with me again it would be too late, so we had to think fast. After some testing, we decided that with a table edge as a fulcrum, Mary’s shoehorn made a perfect catapult and a very simple machine indeed.
Mary was excited to have an excuse to bring her shoehorn to school and show her teachers and friends. But just as we were leaving, I found out her shoehorn had a rather shocking name. Not end-of-the-world awful, mind you, and an obvious choice of names for a shoeHORN. She has a tendency to “just add Y” and yeah… I almost shot apple juice out my nose trying not to laugh. I won’t type the name here on the blog because I don’t want to attract the nasty spambots. And I certainly didn’t want her to introduce it to her class that way. So as we drove to school I tried desperately to convince her to call the shoehorn something else.
“But what does that word mean, Mom?”
“Well you know we’ve talked about .. uh.. hmm. Well, I’ve always told you I’ll answer even embarrassing questions, but I need to focus on the road right now. Just trust me, sweetie. You can’t call her that at school. She needs a new name.”
Ethan shouted “MOOOOON CHILLLLLD!” and laughed wildly. We’d just watched Never Ending Story that weekend with some friends, and I couldn’t help but laugh with him.
Mary waited till the giggles died down. “Well that’s HIL-arious,” she chided, “And just how would you like it if YOU had a hilarious name? Names should be normal and sensible. Isn’t that right, ____?”
“But sweet baby, that is NOT a normal or sensible name.” Well, it would be, actually, but…
“Then how about Anne?”
So Anne it is, and that was that, until I picked the kids up again the next afternoon. Ethan motioned that something was wrong and Mary would be a moment. That’s when I saw her walk morosely from the school, with our dear Vice Principal carefully urging her along. Anne had several layers of masking tape around her neck. And as soon as they were buckled into the car, Mary absolutely burst into tears.
“He broke my shoehorn!!”
“I’m so sorry, Mary… It was an accident….”
“I know, but I’m just SO SAD!”
“Sweet Mary-o-mine, it was only 99 cents. Let’s just go get a new one.”
“But MOOOOOM!! Then it wouldn’t be my sweet little _____! And I just love her so much!”
Weeping gave way to wailing. What’s a mom to do? You’ll think I’m awful: “I’ll take ANNE back to her Ikea family. Maybe they’ll know how to help.”
She wiped her tears. “Do you think they’ll be able to fix her?”
“Yup.” I winked in the rear-view mirror at Ethan. “Good as new.”