Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jane Humphrey gets lost at the Commissary

The inevitable happened today: I lost Jane at the Commissary. If you're unfamiliar with a Commissary, think Wal-Mart-sized grocery store, but on the Naval base. Because it was the Commissary, and on the Naval base, and not a Saturday, I was much more relaxed about letting her convince me to let her stay in the produce department and watch a movie on the big screen, instead of keeping her right with me while I shopped.

Jane wants limes.
Most often, Jane wants to get her own cart and shop with me while I hold my breath and brace for impact, hoping she won't run into my ankles with her little cart.

Shopping is so tiring.
Other days, she's content to fall asleep in the cart. This makes getting paper towels, toilet paper, and frozen chicken something of a trick because you have to really plan, so as not to bury the baby, but it makes everything else a lot easier.

Jane looking at a map at Sea World. Yes, that is my mobile
number on her forearm in Sharpie marker. Why do you ask?
Then there are days like today, when she was awake, but preferred not to shop, but to hang back in the produce department where the big screen TV is showing a kid movie. On these occasions, I'll pull out a fine Sharpie and write some vital info on her forearm, just in case she wan-ts to go on walkabout. Except that today I didn't have my purse, only my ID and a credit card in my back pocket. I left her with strong instructions to stay right there, that I was only going to get apple juice, and that I would be right back.

Of course when I returned, she was nowhere to be seen.

After a pass from one end of the commissary to the other craning my neck, I headed toward Customer Service, just as a woman who works there is approaching me, and watching me crane my neck down the isles.

"Did you lose a kid?" she asked me.

"Yes. A little girl. Yes I did," I confessed.

She looked at me with a well-it-took-you-long-enough look, and I felt appropriately guilty as I followed her back to Customer Service.

I look behind the counter to see Jane sitting at the desk drawing and chatting with the manager. She looks up to see me as the stocker says, "This your girl?"

"Yes," I smile. I look at Jane, who says nothing.

"Hey. You know who I am?" I ask her facetiously. 

She shakes her head no. 

"What?" I ask. 

She laughs. "Hi, Mommy." She walks around the counter as the manager asks me if my name is Humphrey. Humphrey? Where did that come from?

"She told us her name was Jane Humphrey. She was very good. Very helpful..."

"Humphrey? Our name is Drexler... Jane, what did you tell them? What's your name?"

"Jane," she says shyly.

"What's your last name?" I ask her. "You know your last name..."

"I'm three," she says. 

"See," the manager says, "Humphrey."

The light bulb comes on. "'Um free.'" I imitate Jane's pronunciation. "She can't pronounce three. She said: I'm three."

We all have a good laugh, and I take little Jane Humphrey home. We'll have to work on the last name a bit. And maybe I'll have that Sharpie handy more often.


  1. Aw Laura, I love your stories! Rebecca

  2. Only Moms (& most Dads) can translate a toddler's speech accurately!

  3. Oh I loved this story!