After spending my morning in two classrooms yesterday, I thought I’d relieve Kenny for a bit and take Hannah and Anthony with me on a few errands. (Mistake #1.)
We went to the post office first, where they fought over who got to stand on the base of the “wait here” sign and Anthony did pull-ups on the counter. Then we went to the credit union (drive-through window… I know better than to take him inside) where he yelled nonsense words at the cashier and kicked the back of the seat. Then we went to the grocery store, where I had a list of six things I needed to purchase. Six. Not sixteen. Not sixty. Not six hundred. It should have been an in-and-out trip.
It went horribly, horribly wrong.
We walked through the automatic doors, where Anthony spied a car-cart, which is a lovely, entertaining method of distraction for regular children, but seems to turn my youngest into a monster. I was SO hoping they would be gone, but I was out of luck. We got the last one. Anthony crawled into the front and slid his bottom back and forth across the bench seat so Hannah was unable to get in, until I threatened to pull him out of it. (Mistake #2– I should have forced him out, encouraged the tantrum, and then taken him home to his dad.)
Finally he situated himself , she climbed in, and we were off.
[Author’s aside: Have you ever tried to push one of those things? Not only are they bulky and notoriously hard to turn, they throw off your perception and you end up ramming displays– or people!– because you think you have more front clearance than is actually there. I LOATHE those carts.]
We made it through most of the shopping trip without incident, until we got to the holiday aisle. Kenny had requested some candy, and as I was looking at the Easter selections, I felt my cart bump into something. Someone. A frail old lady. I apologized profusely, and she laughed it off while rubbing the back of her leg. (I felt like such an idiot.) I parked my kids where they would be out of the way, and I called Kenny on my cell phone to find out just what sort of plain-no-extras-maybe-dark-maybe-light-call-me-when-you-get-there-and-tell-me-what-there-is-so-I-can-choose chocolate treat he wanted me to grab. (Mistake #3. I should have let him get it himself.)
Kemi: So, there’s Reeses, there’s Cadbury, there’s Dove… what do you want?
Kenny: Yum. Cadbury.
Kemi: Okay, good. They’re on sale. The ones with the pastel candy shells?
Kenny: Oh, shells? (As if he doesn’t eat them EVERY Easter!) I don’t want shells. I want just plain chocolate.
Kemi: Okay, so no Cadbury. Are you thinking light or dark chocolate?
Kenny: I don’t know. You pick.
Kemi: This is for YOU.
Kenny: I don’t know. Whatever.
Kemi: “Whatever” is going to get you chocolate candy that is most definitely NOT plain. Light or dark?
Kenny: What is that noise in the background?
Kemi: Oh, crap, that would be our kids. I have to go. Now.
I went back to our cart to find my adorable children shouting and trying to push each other out of the cart. (I promise they weren’t more than five feet away, it’s just that with Anthony there’s so much yelling, I have begun to tune him out. It’s a sanity-saving mechanism, I think.) I pulled Hannah out of her “door”, after which Anthony promptly buckled his seat belt in protest. Trying desperately not to roll my eyes at him, or break into laughter at his “defiance”, I grabbed a bag of milk chocolate Dove eggs, tossed them into the cart, and and pushed it directly to a checkout aisle.
As soon as he saw Hannah walking, Anthony decided it wasn’t any fun to be strapped into the car, and he started shouting at me to unbuckle him. I told him to stay put until we checked out, and the little stinker shimmied his way out of the seat belt and crawled loose. Then he stuck his tongue out at me and said, “Ha ha!” He decided that rather than being IN the cart, he should be UNDER it, so he tried to crawl into the basket underneath, and I caught him by a foot and dragged him out before he could get stuck. Then he wanted gum, and when I told him to put it back, he swiped his arm across the display, knocking several packages to the floor.
I counted to ten, picked up the gum, and then picked up my little boy, who instantly began squirming and kicking. “PUT ME DOWN!” he yelled. “PUT ME DOWN RIGHT NOW, MOMMY!!!” I told him I could only put him down if I could trust him to be calm, and in response he opened his mouth wide, took a deep breath, and began screaming as loudly as he could.
The heads popping up from behind 20+ registers reminded me of watching Meerkats at the zoo.
Still confident I could talk him out of his tantrum (mistake #4, or is it #5 already?), I rocked him and tried to soothe him. He raged and fought and screamed and clawed and spit at me, and at that point I knew we were in the middle of a massive power struggle. (It was his intermittent giggling that tipped me off. Unluckily for him, I don’t embarrass that easily, so I was willing to ride it out, no matter how loud he got.)
The woman in front of us finished paying for her groceries, shot me a sympathetic look, and headed out. “Paper or plastic?” the cashier asked me.
Her: PAPER OR PLASTIC?
Me: I DON’T CARE. WHATEVER WILL GET ME TO MY CAR THE FASTEST.
Her: (grinning) DID YOU FIND EVERYTHING YOU NEEDED TODAY?
Me: YES, THANK YOU. I SEEM TO HAVE FOUND THIS TANTRUM, TOO, AND IT MOST DEFINITELY WAS NOT ON MY LIST.
Me: NEVER MIND. (shaking head for emphasis)
Her: ANY STAMPS OR ICE?
Me: EVEN IF I NEEDED THEM…
Her: RIGHT. CREDIT OR DEBIT?
Her: THANK YOU. GOOD LUCK. I HOPE YOUR DAY GETS BETTER!
Me: (trying not to cry) THANK YOU. I’M SORRY.
(Did you notice the entire conversation was shouted? Every word of it. Anthony screamed the entire time.)
I pulled my cart out from behind the register one-handed while Hannah got back into the car and covered her ears. The lovely retired woman waiting behind me in line took a few steps forward, touched my arm, and said, “You’re a good mom. A really good mom. You’re doing the right thing.” It was all I could do to keep from throwing my arms around her neck and kissing her with gratitude, or falling into a giant, weeping puddle at her feet. Instead, I smiled, told her thank you, took a deep breath, held my head high, and began my one-armed march through the store to the parking lot, fighting that stupid cart the whole way to the van.
[Dear nasty Harmons customers and/or employees: I’m so sorry about the commotion we caused at the 7th Street store yesterday at approximately 12:30 PM. Thank you to those who shared your snide comments so loudly. They really helped. I hope you were entertained somewhat, even if you were left just a bit more hard-of-hearing. If nothing else, be grateful that your children would NEVER behave that way in public, and pat yourselves on the back for being much more competent parents. And then bite me. Sincerely, Kemi]
As I buckled him into his car seat, Anthony spit in my face. (At least the screaming had stopped. Once we got outside, he lost his audience.) During the three-minute ride home, I got to listen to variations of “Mommy is stupid. I am going to cough in Mommy’s face when we get home. *cough, cough* Mommy, did you hear me? You are STUPID. I am going to cough on you. So ha ha!” It was about that time I looked down and saw my arm bleeding where he had scratched two deep gashes into it.
Could you fall all over yourselves telling me that it’s just a stage he’ll outgrow? I really can’t hear that enough lately.
And for the love of PETE, could someone please explain to me why I feel so compelled to add another child to this family?