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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

The Talcum Incident

The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.

-Denis Waitley

The year was 1998. This was expected to be Michael Jordan’s last year in the league. There was talk of the Bulls not renewing Phil Jackson’s contract and if he left, MJ would be leaving too. So everything was in place. The game was coming on that night, everyone was bathed, fed and ready to watch the game. The master plan was coming together. This is back in the day before we had on demand viewing. If you missed the live event, your alternative was to set your VCR and hope no one told you about the good parts before you could watch the tape. You also ran the risk of the game running longer than the tape, so you would miss the end. Watching it live was the best option and we were all set.

I wanted the fellas to do one last thing before we took our positions in front of the television. Fellas, let’s get some clean sheets on your bed. One thing I learned well with boys is that you have to give them SPECIFIC instructions:

  • Take the blankets off of the bed.

  • Put the dirty sheets and pillow case in the dirty clothes basket.

  • Put the clean sheets on the bed and don’t forget to make hospital corners.

  • Put a little baby powder on the sheets.

  • Put the blanket back on.

  • Put the pillows in the clean pillow case.

Easy, no problem. My 10- and 8-year old sons were more than capable of doing this small task. The beds may not be tight enough to bounce a quarter on, but the bed would be clean.

I get settled with the youngest in front of the TV. The pre-game show is on and the anticipation is growing. The next thing I know, I hear foolishness break out in the very bedroom where a simple sheet transfer is supposed to be taking place. I yell back there, “What is going on, little boys?” (Whenever the phrase “little boys” was spoken, that was first warning to straighten up!) The muffled sounds I got in response prompted me to march back there. The door was closed (first bad sign, we don’t close doors around here unless someone is getting dressed).

I open the door and it looked like Paris in the spring time! There was a foggy cloud of powder hoovering over the two little boys who know they are in serious trouble. Each one was trying to explain why it wasn’t their fault and all I can think of is I sure don’t feel like spanking any little ones today. We opened the windows, turned on the ceiling fan and waited for the room to air out.

Come sit down little boys and let’s get ready for this game. This is MJ’s last game!!! Everybody is going to be talking about this at school (and the office) tomorrow. Let’s forget about the powder, sit down, and watch the game.

Then it starts…a little cough. Ah, don’t worry about it. With all of that powder floating around, it’s just a little lung or throat irritation. Cough,cough…cough, cough. UGH! Maybe some cough medicine will take care of it, or sitting him in a steamy bathroom - anything to make it stop. I try everything I could think of. After the first quarter it is clear to me that we will have to go to the emergency room. UGH! I can’t let the child suffer…but I certainly was feeling some kind of way missing that basketball game.

We got in the car, went to the emergency room and the strange looks we got from the intake nurse were funny in retrospect. It wasn’t long before the coughing stopped…before we even saw the doctor. This is one of the many memories that the fellas don’t remember…but I do!

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