This is one of those situations for which you could never fully prepare.
We are waiting for a grocery pickup order. Our oldest daughter, who has been pulling carpet from stairs, is slumped in the driver’s seat riddled with exhaustion. I’m in the front passenger seat, offering commentary on the happenings around us, and three granddaughters in the middle seat of the SUV are downing dried fruit snacks that taste like the sole of your shoe.
Other cars have wheeled into numbered parking spots, received their orders, and peeled out. Our daughter says she hopes someone comes soon, as the order contains conditioner, and her hair is a wreck.
I suggest she lean her head out the window so they can see what a mess her hair is and maybe that will speed things up.
Just then, a soft voice from behind says, “Grandma, I need help.”
I look over my shoulder and the 11-year-old, the most peaceful, pliable one in the group, appears to be levitating.
She is in a plank-on-your-side position, her head extended toward one car window and her feet toward the other, hovering just below the top of the middle seats. “I’m stuck,” she says, giggling but with a hint of angst.
“What do you mean?”
“I stretched over the seat to get something from the far back and I think the belt loop from my jeans is stuck in part of the shoulder strap.”
“Girls, free your sister!” I snap.
Arms and legs fly, accompanied by shrieking, screaming and laughing.
“We can’t get her free!” one shouts.
I lunge between the two front seats and into the middle seat for a closer look. Her belt loop has slipped between a small opening on a plastic guide piece harnessing a shoulder strap to a middle seat. The weight of her body is pulling the belt loop impossibly taut in the plastic guide piece.
I announce that on the count of three I will lift her, which will take the pressure off the belt loop, whereupon her sisters should dislodge the belt loop from the plastic guide.
As planned, I lift her.
As not planned, I can’t hold her. I drop her. But gently.
More screaming and laughing. “Lift her again, only longer. We need more time!”
I lift her again and drop her again.
“What do you weigh, girl?”
“Seventy-five!” she says.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but it feels like a whole lot more!”
The jeans have twisted and pulled so tight the child will probably have rug burn on the weight-bearing side of her torso.
We regroup and take another run at the mess. “I’ll put one knee under her, you two lift from your ends. It should lessen the tension enough to get the belt loop out of there.”
Everyone strained, moaned, groaned, carried on and bewildered the store employee confirming the pickup order with our driver. The belt loop was finally free and the child was tethered to nothing but gravity once again.
After we all calmed down and finished congratulating ourselves, we agreed the most amazing part of the ordeal was the strength of that denim belt loop in those jeans.
I wonder if they make them for adults.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Send comments to [email protected].