My daughter leaned over in our pew and stretched up to whisper in my ear, "Is that your nickname?"
"No," I shook my head.
"Is it your maiden name?"
"No," I answered.
She scrunched up her nose and tilted her chin to the side. "Who is that then?" she asked.
Then she turned to her blushing father and eyed him suspiciously.
The morning had started off well enough. We sat down to a big family breakfast of eggs and bacon. My coffee was incredibly fine that day. And everyone pretty much got ready for church without a disproportionate amount of prodding.
We arrived at church almost on time. We found an empty pew with six seats together. And my husband and I did a relatively decent job of separating the irritable children from the irritating ones.
No one, especially not I, anticipated the unraveling of such a superb Sunday. Our fate, however, was written in the book.
For years I have harped on my children about practicing good handwriting. Neat handwriting indicates effort and pride in one's work. Legible lettering leads to accurate transference of information. A couple of them earnestly heed my assurances that neat handwriting is an asset in life. A couple of them think I'm full of empty admonitions.
I've heard all the excuses. My husband has argued, "I didn't have neat handwriting when I was a kid."
Our oldest son, following his father's lead, has said: "Handwriting isn't important anymore. We live in a digital world. Kids really don't even need to know how to spell anymore."
After lobbying me all these years for leniency with our kids, my husband finally backed me by setting the example. On that near-perfect Sunday morning a few weeks back, my husband kept glancing at me. He wore a sly little smile on his face. He rocked back on his heels, something he does when he anticipates accolades. Then the reader said, "We pray for those celebrating birthdays or anniversaries, especially Brad and Amy Adams, 18th wedding anniversary."
At the same time that my daughter grilled me, our 11-year-old son demanded to know: "Who is Amy? I thought you had your anniversary with Daddy today."
"I don't know," I answered, "but apparently your father has been spending a lot of time with her."
(Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run . She lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her Web site, www.IfMama.com.)