growing up (soLs)

“You can’t buy that,” I said through slit teeth, eyes darting up and down the aisle to make sure no one saw us.

Mom looked at me like I was the one with the problem. (Hindsight says she might have been the one in the right here, after all, I was a teenager.) “Everybody buys this,” and she plopped a package of toilet paper in the cart. It wasn’t a cute little four pack, but the giant, huge, larger than a small child pack of double-roll toilet paper. I thought I was going to die.

“Everybody doesn’t use that much!” I whisper-yelled, ducking my head as someone walked by the end of the aisle. “Get a smaller pack!” I didn’t think things could get any more embarrassing, until she went for another pakage.

“Seriously, Mom! Put it back!” I may have been hysterical.

“We don’t want to run out,” Mom said, grasping the ridiculously huge pack of toilet paper with both hands. She balanced it in the cart, piling it on top of the other pack. Then, much to my dismay, she began parading the T.P. Mountain through the store.

I couldn’t believe she was doing this to me. I think I waited in the car. I do know she tormented me throughout my teenage years by threatening to buy toilet paper when we were shopping together.

Today, I bought the larger than a small child pack of double-roll toilet paper. Then I carried it out of the store, both hands grasping the extra-large package and smiled with pride at how far I’ve come.

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  1. Hysterical. My youngest son once walked out of the grocery store because I was buying a large package of TP. Another time, he carried every bag of groceries and walked ahead of me–me carrying the big pack of toilet paper. What is it with teenagers and toilet paper?

  2. I think it's quite funny, Ruth. Maybe it's because I can relate, both as a daughter and as a mom. I laughed out loud at the line: “I couldn't believe she was doing this to me” because it's so true that teens feel that way sometimes. It's as if everything is 'being done' to them, as if we buy toilet paper just to spite them!

  3. I laughed out loud; I couldn't help it. The image of T.P. Mountain is hysterical and SO like something my mom would have done to embarrass me–not on purpose of course, but once she realized it did get to me, she would taken advantage of it! I often wished that I could twitch my nose like Samantha on “Bewitched” and disappear. Thanks for bringing back those memories–I think!

  4. That's perfect. It reminds me of a gift my mom sent with me to a birthday party when I was six or seven: pretty underpants. I guess I forgive her now.

  5. Your first words had me imagining something your kids were getting. Then my thinking changed and I laughed out loud at the “whispered-yelled” voice. Oh, I have heard that once or twice. You. Sculpted your words in a way that grabs the reader and pulls them in.

  6. I love this glimpse at teenage Ruth! I have to admit, I have not grown up. My husband and I order our TP by the case through a green products company so that I can avoid the task of purchasing the mega-pack in public altogether.

    This also reminds me of the chapter about TP in A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. You cracked me up today!

  7. Ruth- This is too funny! My boys won't even shop with me because I do embarrassing stuff like asking them what kind of cereal they want…

  8. This is hysterical!!! This is also why I shop at Costco, where EVERYBODY has TP Mountains on their carts! Thanks for the late night laugh.

  9. Wow-you took me back to being a mom of such embarrassment to my teenage daughter. She mostly wanted me around with the credit card. You've written this so wonderfully Ruth, including that plaintive voice that is funny now, but poignant to me also, thinking of the painful feelings of the teens. “Mo-o-m! Put it back!”

  10. Oh how funny! I can just see your mortified face as a teen. As a mom, I can totally relate to proudly parading the massive mountain of TP. Thanks for the giggle.

  11. Too funny! I remember feeling horrified by plenty of things my mom did, but never wigged out by toilet paper. We'll have to see how my daughter turns out.

  12. So funny! I was laughing that it was only toilet paper, as I had been waiting in anticipate to find out what the product was 🙂 It is fun to think back about how we change over time, and I can imagine how much your mom enjoyed joking around.

  13. Love it! I have those moments too of doing things that would have mortified the teenage me…and I'm only 10 years removed from being a teenager! What will I be doing in another fifteen years (besides mortifying teens of my own, that is)?