Carol laid out the dress on her daughter’s bed. A creamy, white satin monstrosity with a crinoline petticoat and delicate, pink smocking on the bodice. More appropriate for a toddler, and not a 9-year-old, she knew Cami, her whirlwind of a tomboy, would balk merely at the words, “petticoat,” and “crinoline.”
Since Cami had showered the night before, Carol hoped she would give in to a ‘spit and polish’ sink bath, before her Grandmother Bea arrived. At least she had called ahead this time and didn’t just show up unannounced as she usually did.
Carol could appreciate her daughter’s distaste in the elaborate clothing, having lived through years of Bea’s constant pageant-esque wardrobe demands.
She heard Cami thundering up the stairs, and braced herself for battle.
“Hey, Mom!” Cami burst into her room, and began immediately tossing clothes out of her hamper. Pulling her favorite pair of jean shorts out, she began changing out of her pajamas without noticing the dress. “Gramps said I can help him plant the ‘maters today.”
“That may have to wait, Cami.” Carol took a steadying breath.
“It can’t wait,” Cami stopped long enough to gawk at her mother’s disregard for gardening protocol. “Gramps said the Farmer’s Ammenak said it had to be today.”
‘Farmer’s Almanac,” her mother automatically corrected.
“That’s what I said, ‘Ammenak’,” Cami hopped around on one foot, trying to get her other one into the right leg of her shorts.
“Cami, please stop hopping,” Carol put a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Your Grandmother is coming for a visit this morning, and it would make her very happy if you’d wear the dress she brought you for your birthday last month.”
Stopping mid-hop, Cami glared at her mother, then finally noticing the dress, let out a gloriously indignant huff.
“Do I hafta?” Cami wasn’t usually a whiner, but dresses brought out the worst in her.
“She won’t be here long, maybe she’ll get one of her sick headaches then you and Gramps can still do some gardening,” Carol pleaded with her put upon child.
“Awwww… Mommmmm, that crinkly stuff inches and the neck is too tight,” Cami, with her shorts dropped around her ankles, stomped her loose foot.
“Cami, it’s just for a little while,” Carol began helping Cami get out of her pj top, and guided her into her bathroom for a light scrub.
Finally dressed, her ensemble complete with white knee socks and white patent leather Mary Janes, Cami stood stoically through the added insult of having her hair pulled into two braids. With the last plait finished, Bea arrived at their front door.
Carol and Cami greeted Bea with air kisses to both cheeks, then followed her into the formal living room. While her mother and grandmother engaged in mindless gossip, Cami waited for her chance and slipped out of the room. She knew that Bea wouldn’t notice her gone until she was well away.
Cami found her Gramps already in the garden. Cami’s dad and Gramps had spent several weekends prepping the small plot, and it was already producing fresh vegetables.
Cami was fascinated by how different her parents’ parents were. Bea didn’t believe in dirt, and Gramps talked almost tenderly about it. He loved the smell and feel of freshly turned earth, telling his granddaughter how their garden soil was sweet enough to eat.
Losing track of time, Cami didn’t realize how long she’d been outside until she heard her mother call for her. Running up to the house, she found the ladies waiting lunch on her.
“Good Lord, child what happened to you?” Bea recoiled from Cami’s attempt to hug her. “You are filthy!”
Cami couldn’t resist helping Gramps lay in the new tomato plants, trying to not get her dress dirty, but failing completely. Smears of black dirt streaked the front of the skirt where she wiped her hands. She had somehow lost both shoes, and her two big toes had worked their way out of her socks.
Realizing how bad her dress looked, Cami turned toward her mother knowing she would be disappointed. She saw the expected tears, but also saw the laughter in Carol’s eyes.
“But grandmother,” Cami went in for her hug, leaving more handprints on the back of Bea’s skirt. “It’s good, clean filth.”
I gave Wendryn this prompt: When all seems lost, ask your Mother.