Reese forgot to take her lunch box to school the other day. I found it sitting in the garage when I returned from work, and it was the first thing she told me about when she came home.
"Have you ever forgotten something, Mom?"
Have I ever forgotten something?
I thought about answering, "Child, have you not realized just how frequently I call you and your sisters by the each other's names? Have you not been strapped in your car seat as I've dashed into the house one last time to grab an item that I've left behind? Did you not see me patting down my pockets and scouring the diaper bag for my cell phone while I was talking on that very cell phone?"
Instead, I responded, "Yes, Reese, I've forgotten things."
Later she pelted Joel with the same questions. "But have you ever forgotten your lunch?" He replied that he had.
"How many times?"
Reese always wants to know particulars. I don't know's and I can't remember's don't appease her, so there's no point in trying to dodge her questions. She'll hound you into submission, wearing you down with incessant prodding until you specify a precise response.
"Four." His answer must have sounded plausible, because she simply responded, "Oh."
She paused. "Well, did everyone end up knowing that you forgot your lunch?"
That's when it struck me. This was more than a forgotten lunch; this was one of her first times feeling embarrassment. Apparently she told a classmate, that classmate told another, and before she could say "school lunch," several kids knew.
Embarrassment is a horrible feeling. You're moving along feeling coherent and competent, and wham, you're met with the realization that you don't have things together -- and that other people realize it.
So, we talked. I told her about the time I forgot my lunch as an adult. I even told her about the cell phone. Her eyes widened and the hint of a smirk appeared on her lips. "Really?"
And we both were able to laugh at ourselves and our forgetfulness. After all, embarrassment holds no power over you when you're able to laugh at yourself.