This was a day I’d like to forget. Although if I forget it then I can’t learn from it.
My kids tried to take me down hard today. I guess it was my own fault for not being more efficient in the early morning and not getting my chores done and letting early morning become late morning and then almost noon. If we all get out the door by 10 or 11, things go much more smoothly. But dilly-dally I did. And I paid for it.
How calm can you stay when for every step you take you must take two steps back and then forward again – repeating this scenario more times than any sane person can tolerate? Luke (the Dictator) is 5 and Madeleine (Sassy Sally) is 2. A very verbal 2. Anything he says she throws right back at him. It’s her way of surviving. I don’t blame her. My husband and I try our best to keep him on a fine line so he realizes who is boss around here. Who the hell is boss around here, anyway?
There was lots of screaming, pushing, closed-fist-punching, hey that’s mine, she hit me first, I’m not brushing my teeth ever again, and stop looking at me. Do all kids read from a playbook? I said those exact things as a kid. My mom is so happy that she’s finally getting her revenge via her ill-behaved grandchildren. My dad texts me to remind me that my kids do the same things I used to do. Thanks, Dad. Noted.
Knowing already that a noon departure spells disaster, I shuffled them into the car – after the inevitable fight with Luke about how he knows how to put his shoes on and doesn’t need my help. They’re velcro for God’s sake!
In the car, Luke was still annoyed and pointed a tiny toy bazooka at me (belonging to one of his super heroes) and pretended to shoot me. My kid pretended to shoot me.
“Did you just shoot me with that gun?” I asked, angry and bewildered.
He furrowed his brow but said nothing.
“That’s a terrible thing to do to Mommy. That makes me very sad,” I said with a stern tone.
I had the presence of mind to throw a snack in my bag for each of them. Cereal bars were distributed and they munched quietly for 5 minutes or so.
“I’m gonna be still hungry when we get there, Mom.” Luke informed me.
My voice was hoarse from hollering during the morning’s antics. “Ok, Luke. Thank you for telling me,” I said softly.
In the front seat I had placed Madeleine’s pink, velvet purse and inside were her miniature Strawberry Shortcake and Friends figurines. She calls them her “ladies”.
“God damn it! I need my ladies!” she shouted. I don’t know why she went from contentedly eating a cereal bar to an all-out Exorcist-style flipout.
I decided to employ the silent treatment to both kids, since Luke was already kicking the back of my seat like a rabid animal and now Madeleine was joining in. I calmly handed the purse over the backseat.
She examined the contents of the purse, “God damn it! I need Lemon!” Lemon Meringue had not made it into the purse. Lemon Meringue was relaxing in the dollhouse in the living room. I suddenly wished I was an inanimate plastic figurine.
Luke was still kicking away. I wanted to cry. I was dying to cry but all I could feel was a lump in my throat that would not budge. I guess I wasn’t ready for a good cry. Maybe later. Would the kids notice or even care?
We were almost at CVS.
“I’m hungry right now,” Luke said.
“I said I’m hungry! Mom, I’m hungry right now!”
I summoned advice from a recent parenting article: Don’t acknowledge the negative behavior. Negative attention is still attention.
My mind was a blur. Between the screaming and tantruming of the morning I hadn’t had time to write a CVS list and now I couldn’t even remember what the date was. Luke began doing his rooster impression just for sport. It sliced through me. I had all this intense emotion within me but I realized something at that moment that trumped everything I was feeling. I didn’t have an urge to run away. Isn’t that spectacular? Does that mean I enjoy torture? I was reminded – yet again on this journey that is motherhood – that no matter what my little darlings do, I will always want to be here. Nice job, Mother Nature. You really knew what you were doing when you hardwired us moms.
We never got to CVS. We got to the parking lot actually but I decided to turn around and go home. Even though I had chosen the far away CVS as opposed to the one in our town. I changed the plan and took the kids out to lunch instead.
“What are you doing?” Luke asked.
“We’re going out to lunch.”
“You said you’re hungry, right?”
He seemed baffled, “Oh, right. Ok.”
Storm clouds rolled in as we finished a peaceful lunch and somehow the highlight of the day appeared in the form of an umbrella. I remembered the umbrella. Rain fell so hard and fast that the storm drains were overflowing. It poured and poured as we huddled together on the curb, waiting for the light to allow us to cross the street to our car.
“Luke, get closer. You’re getting wet.”
“It’s ok, Mom. It’s just a little rain,” he said easily.
We reached the car and I lifted them inside.
“I guess we don’t need a tubby tonight, Mom,” Luke said. “The rain cleaned us.”
The rain managed to wash away the morning so we all could enjoy a nice afternoon. Funny how things work out sometimes.