Reed's eyes were red, and he was hiccuping the last of his tears. His preschool teacher stood with him in the hall holding his hand.
"Reed, baby! What's wrong?!" I gasped rushing to his side as my mind raced through the possibilities. I didn't see any blood or bruises. I didn't see a weeping accomplice holding his teacher's other hand. Nor did I see a shamefaced bully standing facing the wall.
"We had a little accident in the big room," his teacher began.
The "big room" was the gathering place for the throng of wild munchkins at the end of the long day of preschool. On Sundays, it was called the "fellowship hall." On Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings once the chorus "Clean up...clean up...everybody clean up" was sung 35 times as toys and books were tucked away, each class filed down the hall for ready for a hearty rumpus in what was then called the "big room." Entering the room the kids tossed their backpacks on the floor along the wall ready to be retrieved as each mom came to the door. "Suuuuuuuuzie! Grab your backpack!! Your mommy's here!"
"A little accident?" I replied with pooched lips and a wrinkled brow meant to communicate compassion to my whimpering "big boy."
"Yes," she continued, "Reed got upset because he thought that his underwear fell off, and the kids laughed at him."
Biting my lip to hold back a guffaw, I looked Reed over to verify that he was still wearing his Mervyn's blue denim "easy pants" - the pants that he preferred for preschool because they were the easiest to pull down when he had to go to the bathroom. I was confused. He had definitely not changed into a kilt after I dropped him off that morning. He was still sporting his easy pants. How could his underwear have snaked out of his pants and onto the big room floor, for Pete's sake!
"I think that what happened was that his backpack was unzipped when he ran over and threw it on the floor. Somehow, his extra pair of underwear (some of his favorite 'emergency' Power Ranger briefs) fell out of his bag and got caught on his 'tennie' shoes. When he ran out into the middle of the room, the underwear went with him, and one of the boys started pointing and yelling, "Reed!! Your underwear fell off!!!"
By now, I was biting my tongue in half in an effort to suppress the guffaws that were tickling my midsection. Reed's teary eyes and little runny nose tugged at my heartstrings. I had to hold it together! I didn't want to totally scar him for life by laughing in the face of his tragedy.
"So, I ran over to Reed who was crying hysterically, and told him that there was no way on earth that his underwear could have fallen off because he was still wearing his pants. But, he was inconsolable what with the kids pointing and laughing and all. I ended up taking him to the bathroom so that he could go in a stall, pull down his pants, and see that his underwear was still right where it should be. He's been pretty upset! I'm glad you're here!"
I hugged my little weeping tiger tightly and exchanged silent laughs with his teacher. "Oh, baby, I'm so sorry! You're OK now! Your underwear did not fall off." Scooping him up into my arms, he buried his face on my shoulder. My happy-go-lucky, monkey-grinning child melted into my body as his arms wrapped tightly around my neck. "Schweet, schweet baby, let's go home and call Daddy." Call Daddy. Comforting words to a child who loved his daddy real bad. Daddy would have the right words for a boy traumatized by falling underwear.
Come to think of it, I love that Daddy real bad, too. I would totally call him if I ever thought that my underwear had fallen off in public.