Katie was in bed next to me, trying to get me up. I still had my eyes closed, but I could feel her hot breath next to my cheek and her voice in my ear.
"Mom, I wanna tell you something."
This is how our conversations almost always begin. I never know if what's to follow will be mind-blowingly philosophical, banal pleas to do something about her hunger or thirst, information I simply don't want to receive regarding one of the pets' bodily fluids discovered somewhere in the house, or simply something humorous or curious she's observed.
"Tell me something," I said without opening my eyes.
"I just watched this video on YouTube..." she began.
My eyes opened. Uh oh. What's this about? That's what I get for sleeping in and letting our seven-year-old surf our unfiltered net unsupervised.
"Oh, yeah? About what?" I asked, trying not to let my worries show. I'd hate for Katie to develop my personal tendency toward overreacting to difficult situations, so I try to hide my internal worries around her in an attempt to model mellowness. It doesn't work. She can detect my most subtle bullshit.
"Don't worry. It was funny," Katie assured me.
"Oh good. So what did you want to tell me?" I rubbed away some eye boogers and rolled over to face her.
"Well. There were these three people stranded on an island. And a boat was coming to save them. One of them shouted, 'bring water!' The other one shouted, 'bring food!' And the last one yelled, 'bring toilet paper!'"
A long, drawn-out giggle fit ensued. Katie rolled around the bed as if she'd said the funniest thing ever.
I chuckled, more at her reaction to the story than the story itself. "Well, yeah, I can see that. I'd hate to go for a long time without toilet paper too."
"But it's not as important as water and food!" Katie corrected me, still laughing.
"Well, yeah, but let's see you say that when you've gone without it," I countered.
"Well, if it was the olden days that guy would have shouted out, 'bring dried corn!'" Katie announced, prompting her to laugh even more.
"What?" I honestly didn't get the joke.
"You know. You said your dad told you in the olden days people used dried corn to wipe their bottoms because they were too poor to afford toilet paper," Katie explained.
"Oh, yeah." I smiled big, proud of her incredible memory. I can't believe some of the things she remembers that I've only told her once, a long time ago. "Corncobs," I said. "My dad called them 'roastin' ears'. But yeah, that's what he said his relatives used in the outhouse on the farm before they had toilet paper," I clenched my jaw and shook my head. "Ouch. We sure are lucky nowadays."
"Yeah, Mom. You're right. We are lucky to have toilet paper," Katie agreed.
In this time of overabundance, thirteen days before Christmas, when corporations are blasting us with ads to buy! buy! buy! their shit, I'm happy to hear our girl appreciates the simple things in life. Like toilet paper.