She looked innocent enough. But she was trouble. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for 'pee'. (Yes, I know that the Music Man's P stands for "pool", but my P stands for "pee".)
It was 17 years ago and I still shudder at the memory. My 5-year old daughter Kimmy and I want on a road trip to visit my friend Debbie in Des Moines. Debbie asked me if we would mind driving her 4-year old granddaughter Melissa back with us to Milwaukee.
It was the longest 6 hours and 42 minutes of my life.
Melissa was a cross between Angelica and Esther the Orphan. Only she was way meaner than both of them. And her manipulation skills were off the charts.
Melissa: "This ice cream has too many chocolate chips."
Debbie: "I'm sorry, buttercup, let me take out some of the chips for you"
Melissa: "You took too many out!"
Debbie: "Let me get you a new bowl, dumpling. Kimmy can have this one."
When we said our goodbyes, Debbie warned, "Drive carefully, that's my Melissa you're taking home!" I rolled my eyes.
The back seat driving started immediately.
"You better drive safely or I'm telling my grandma"
"Grandma's seats are more comfy than yours. I don't like these seats."
"I think you 're speeding . You better not speed, or I'm telling Grandma"
All that, and we hadn't even left her neighborhood.
The real excitement started when we stopped at a rest stop between Des Moines and Davenport. There was a flight of about 47 cement stairs leading to the rest rooms.
"I'm too tired to climb the stairs", Melissa complained.
I carried her up to the top.
Melissa: "I don't have to go to the bathroom"
Me: "Are you sure?"
So Kimmy and I used the bathroom, I carried Melissa down the stairs, we all got in the car, buckled the seat belts and I started the car.
Then came the voice from he back seat, "I have to go to the bathroom"
So we all got out and she whined, "I'm too tired to.." I finished her sentence as I picked her up, "I know...to climb the 47 damn cement stairs."
We got in the bathroom and she said, "This toilet is too dirty to use"
I took a deep breath. Then Kimmy and I methodically wrapped toilet paper around the toilet seat so it suited Melissa's royal behind. When we finished preparing her throne she said,
"I don't have to go to the bathroom anymore"
I think at this point I may have lost a teeny tiny bit of my composure. I placed her delicate hiney on the padded potty and said "PEE."
I'm not sure what it was that set off the subsequent tantrum. It could have been the 1-ply toilet paper, or the cold water in the faucet, or perhaps Melissa was simply bored. But she began howling like the perverbial banshee. She plopped her body onto the sidewalk in front of the rest room and screamed "Leave me alone! I don't want to go with you!"
I was unscathed. I picked her up and started for the cement stairway. It was when we were about halfway down the stairs that she screamed those four unsettling words... as if through a megaphone.....as clear as a bell,
"You're hurting my PRIVATES!"
I seriously considered leaving her on the 34th step and driving to Milwaukee without her, but I had promised Debbie that I'd deliver her unharmed to her mother.
I picked up my pace. "Kimmy- open the back door" I screamed.
Melissa, apparently intent on winning an Academy Award, stiffened her body into a board that would not pass through the door.
A crowd started gathering.
"NO! I don't want to go!!"
I tried a different angle. No luck. She screamed even louder. I turned her perpendicularly, finally finding an angle that worked. I shoved her in feet-first and slammed the door as soon as her head cleared. Kimmy jumped in the front door and we sped off like Bonnie and Clyde leaving a crime scene with a full bag of loot.
Except the loot was Melissa.
I sped down I-80, looking in my mirrors for the police lights.
They never came. Part of me wished they would.
We'd have been rid of her for good.