Saying No to Growing Up

By Melinda Rothfuss

We are watching it again, for the 17th time.  Two days in a row, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is gracing our TV. I didn’t buy this DVD on purpose, but it is always available at the library to rent. Doesn’t anyone else want to watch it, please?

Here’s your favorite part: when the car is about to sink into the ocean and suddenly wings pop out and they can fly. And you say, “Cool!” and clap every time. You are already seven but you watch it like you are still four. I love that.

And then you act seven again and shout, “Mom, they are not in car seats and have no seat belts on. The cops are gonna get them!”  And I think, “Oh, crap. This is what you will remember forever about your mom, that she didn’t say no when you wanted to be a big girl and sit in the front seat without your booster.” Of course, that’s when the cop stopped us. And, as the cop approached the car, I told you not to move and instead you unbuckled the strap and started to crawl into the back seat (where you knew you belonged) just in time for the copper to peek in and say…

 “And no seat belt on her either?”  Crap, Crap, Crap.

My mind snaps back to the living room and the movie. Now, it’s the part where the crazy grandfather flies through the air in an outhouse (as they often do).  Inevitably the conversation turns to how pee comes out of a penis and, then your mind-blowing question: “What does it feel like, a penis?”

But before I can try to answer that, you randomly follow with: “How can you pick when you want a baby?” This time, we both hold our breath. And wait. Then, I awkwardly blurt out, “When mommies and daddies and God think it is a good idea, sometimes they make a baby.” That ridiculous explanation is very sketchy and is why you are narrowing your eyes and looking at me suspiciously. But, just before you interrogate me, you stop yourself. I think you sense an ugly truth about it all.  Maybe you don’t really want a big girl explanation right now. And I don’t want to mention intercourse yet, so we are both off the hook. We silently decide to drop it. You smile. I tighten your pigtails and we turn back to the movie. 

This is my favorite part. I get to watch you watch Caraticus Potts fly off into the sunset with Truly Scrumptious in a hand-made car. I am putting off watching you grow up for just a little bit longer.


Melinda is a full-time mom and part time professor of jazz hands and acting moments in Northeast PA.  She also writes ad copy for various radio stations in the area and enjoys editing her mother's Japanese diary entries dating back to the 1940's.  In her spare time she tries to figure out what she will be when she grows up. 

3 Responses to “Saying No to Growing Up”

  1. Tannis says:

    Great read Melinda!

  2. Sarah M says:

    I love how many layers you uncovered in this one moment. So sweet! And her chain of questions really made me laugh.

  3. Erin S says:

    Loved this piece!  It brought me back to my own childhood.  I remember feeling Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was just magical as a child.  I liked how you wove this together with your own stories.

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