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Shamed

The very real downside of being married to someone you have pretty much known forever is that they know all your dirt. Meet and marry someone in your thirties—or even twenties—and you can heavily edit your teen years unless your family and old friends are particularly ruthless. But if you marry someone who knew you as a teen, there is no statute of limitations on being humiliated, and pool of material from which to draw is deep.

So I have come to grips with the fact, nay, accepted the fact, that Matt has serious goods on me. Having my two-and-a-half-year-old son join in, however, has caught me off guard.

Picture this: We’re on our way to my brother’s house for his annual July 4th party Saturday at dinner time. Our route, as always, takes us past my Dad’s house, which Simon calls “Nana’s house”, and then past my Bubbie’s house, which prompts Simon to chant “Great-Great-Grand-Bubbie’s House!” in an enthusiastic┬ámanner as we approach. Then we turn right and go past the side of the house, and he surprises me by continuing:

There’s Great-great-grand-bubbie’s garage. Mommy crash garage. Mommy crash car in it.

At first I could not believe my ears. Was my toddler son really saying what I thought he was saying? Did he somehow know that when I was 16 I drove my grandparents’ Chevy Malibu with the dead spot in the accelerator to their house, got part way up their steep driveway and felt it stall, saw a car coming up behind me, panicked and hit the gas, and then promptly sped at what felt like 80mph up a driveway the length of a single car, hitting the brakes too late to avoid the inevitable crush of car into garage door?

Did he understand that I sat in their car in their garage (a brute force entry if there ever was one), thinking to myself that somehow there had to be a way to go back in time and re-do the whole catastrophe? Did he know how terrified I was to face my gentle and loving grandparents in the wake of the fiasco? Did he hear my mom calling my brother and telling him to go their house to investigate, hissing out the order between her clenched teeth, “And for God’s sake, don’t you laugh at her!”

Of course he didn’t and couldn’t know about that. He’s 14 years from driving himself. But my husband knows about this, alas, and apparently has been giving Simon the highlights when he drives past the house on the way to school every day.

I’ll be OK. The humiliation is now 23 years behind me and coming out of Simon’s mouth in such an innocent, sing-songy way took whatever sting remained right out of it. But you can bet, just bet, that when the time is right Simon is going to spring some serious humiliation on Matt. Be it in the form of his worst-in-class seventh grade Africa notebook [second worst; Brian Norfleet got a lower grade -mgw.], his high-school band Sacrilegious Toejam, or his day-dreaming in deep right field (imagining Sinbad’s voyages, he managed to miss that the teams changed sides), there will be pay-back.

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