Friday, December 16, 2005

Such good kids

Yesterday morning, I cracked open the last gallon of milk when making my second mocha of the day and realized Something Was Amiss.

It was a slight odor. A very slight odor. So slight that I debated with myself for a moment as to whether or not so slight an odor was really something to worry about – after all, I said to myself, I’m going to be putting it in the microwave for two whole minutes and then steaming it, how much bacteria could possibly survive that?!

Then I called to mind my condition last Friday, when I woke up at 2:00 in the morning shivering, sweating, and keenly aware that my intestinal tract was about to explode out of my body in every direction at once, marched to the sink and dumped the entire gallon of milk down it.

I made my mocha with the bare scrapings of whole milk that was supposed to be for the baby (eh, a sippy cup of juice instead won’t kill him this once, whereas an under-caffeinated mother just might) and a generous dollop of heavy cream and faced the brutal reality that {gulp} I had to go to the supermarket.



Oh, mercy. Worst of all, the very thought turned what should have been a very luxurious mocha (heavy whipping cream rocks in a mocha!!!) to ashes in my mouth. I began struggling to find a way around going with the kids in tow…

…I thought about waiting until my husband got home – but I knew full well he wouldn’t be home before 7:30 at the earliest, and possibly even later.

…I thought about waiting until I had dropped Danger Mouse and Boo Bug off at school – but then Captain Adventure is already about half an hour past his desired nap time and taking him to the supermarket would be remarkably foolish. Might as well take hatpins to poke him with while I’m at it. He’ll be shrieking and screaming before we even get out of the van – worse, he’ll then refuse to nap for the rest of the day, collapse at 5:30, get up again at 7:00 and want to stay up all freakin’ night. Not worth it.

…I thought about lying down on the sofa for a good long cry, but realized it would probably give me a headache and besides – first I’d have to clean off the sofa, which would undoubtedly mean pulling out the vacuum cleaner and then naturally I’d end up doing the whole freakin’ room just ‘cause and what would that solve? Nothing!!

No. It was either “do without milk until tomorrow” (which also means doing without bread, rolls, muffins, waffles, the sugar cookies I wanted to make today and {gasp, shock, HORROR} my afternoon, early evening and crack-of-dawn tomorrow coffees!), or…suck it up and be a woman about it. Get ‘er done. Do the necessary. Shoulders back, chin up, hair contained, makeup on and heerrrrrrrrrre we go! Big smiles everyone!!

So I loaded up the four Denizens and headed out into the dense fog. After dropping off Eldest, I informed the remaining Denizens (brightly) that we were going to the supermarket.

“Hooray!” they shouted, in the way they do when anything different is announced.

Yeah, great, whoopee. I reminded them that, if they were super-duper amazingly good, they would be permitted to select a Treat from the candy aisle.

“HOORAY!!!!!” they shouted with real feeling, and began assuring their best-best-bestest of behavior.

It didn’t start out well. The only “car” shopping cart I could find was soaking wet from having been left out last night, and it was damned cold outside. My children were sniffling and whining and grousing about their sore noses and hands (how many mittens have I made for them?! and where are they?!) as I wandered around like a member of the Lost Tribe searching for one of the at least five of those stupid car-shaped carts I know the supermarket has in its arsenal.

Nope. Not one, other than the soaking wet one – which got snagged by a dad who simply plopped his Princess in there without regard for the fact that she was going to be drenched. She screamed and wailed all the way through the store, but refused to get out of the car – even though she was being put through the Chinese water torture routine. Drip-shriek, drip-shriek, drip-shriek.

I grabbed the only three seater left, the less-desirable bench seat model. I expected whining. I got…giggling. The girls were charmed because they got to sit facing their baby brother, and he was equally charmed to be flirting with them the entire time.

Let me say that again.

My two daughters found it absolutely the most charming thing in the world that they got to sit and stare at their baby brother for the duration of the shopping trip, and he was vastly entertained, the entire time, by playing ‘look-away’ (a variation of peek-a-boo, where one turns one’s head coquettishly to the side for a moment, then suddenly whips it around to grin at one’s partner).

Hooooooookay. I am not questioning, I am just burning incense to the God of Short Attention Spans in thanks that, for thirty minutes, my children managed to mostly entertain themselves with something as simple as that. Oh, and the fact that we made train noises while in motion. That was also tremendous fun (for them – me, I got a bit winded trying to make the chugga-chugga noises while pushing 100+ pounds of toddler/preschooler/kindergarten plus all the groceries).

The whining did not begin until we hit the produce section – which happened to also be the very last stop on our little adventure. And the whining stopped the instant they were reminded that they had to be super-duper good to get their Treat.

We got to the checkout line, and I let them out to choose their treats. This being a weighty matter demanding much careful thought, consideration and debate, I was all but completely unloaded by the time they returned with their decisions: white chocolate Reese’s and candy-coated Hershey Kisses, which they placed on the belt with due solemnity before hopping back onto the bench. They know the drill: they have chosen the Treat, but it can still be lost!! Super Duper Goodness must be maintained until everyone is buckled into their seats in the van and we’re ready to go. Then and only then will the Treat be given out, with mommy’s undying gratitude that you did not humiliate her in front of the masses.

It was at this point that I realized that I have some pretty extraordinarily good kids.

I realized this because of the other children around us.

Princess was still screaming. Any time her father tried to appease her, she kicked him. The child in front of us went into a tizzy fit when his mother pried the package of cookies out of his hand – just for a second, sweetie! – so the cashier could swipe them. There were a pair of twins we had encountered a couple times who were so amazingly bratty that I honestly think I might have used duct tape over their mouths had they been mine. Four years old (or so), and their mother was their personal slave. They demanded potato chips, and first she said ‘absolutely not’, then ‘no’ (more in a ‘please don’t ask me to do this’ than an actual ‘no, end of discussion’ way), then ‘wellllll…’, and then they were popped into the cart. Immediately, they began demanding to be allowed to eat the chips while they shopped, and I’m pretty sure the conversation went the same way. Absolutely not {SHRIEK!} No {WAIL!} Wellllll {holding breath until faces turn purple} OK, but just this once…

I looked at my three children. They were giggling and goofing off, but they were staying seated (as commanded), weren’t hitting each other, weren’t hollering and yelling about wanting their Treat, NOW!, weren’t being little brats.

Damn, but I do love my kids.

Now, if I can just hold onto this feeling for those times when they’re all running amuck in the house on these cold, rainy days screaming and shrieking and throwing things down the stairs…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Job Tama!

My main parenting mantra is that it doesn't matter so much what you say yes or no to, but that when you say stays NO!