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About me: I'm a 40-something mother to a pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our tween Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler Cam, and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). I'm a freelance graphic designer and writer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I guess I didn't look like a bitch yesterday. And I don't mean bridge

Yesterday after Junior and I played at the park then said goodbye to the fag—he said goodbye to the slides, kites, people, f’ying birds, cars, sticks, clouds and trees, too—I took him to the grocery store. (I really know how to rock a Saturday, ey?)

Despite being called “that woman” on a previous trip to Stop & Shop, I still go there. I like to live on the edge, and their strawberries are always two for $5. Always.

You know that “shot heard round the world” stuff from your high school history book? Well, yesterday was the “child’s blood curdling scream heard round the store.”

I've come to the conclusion that having a child is kind of like having a wild penis attached to your forehead. You can put a nice little hat over it (or a big hat), but if it wants to jump out and frighten the world it’s going to.

It was horrible. No matter what aisle you were in, the screams were right there. When I passed people in the aisle, we exchanged that raised eyebrow look. I kept slobbering all over Junior, thanking him for behaving.

Honestly? I’m dreading the public meltdown. I know it’s coming. No one is safe from it. How they haven’t made it into a horror movie is beyond me. Screw Swamp Thing. How about something a little more plausible? Like Toddler Thing?

I’ve been taking notes from my step-sister on how to handle a meltdown, but I suspect she’s on Valium. Her kid could be smashing glass while igniting furniture while screaming obscenities and she’d look at the crowd—their eyes agape—and say, “I don’t know what your problem is.”

I don’t know if I’d be able to pull that off. It’s kind of like a fight; you don’t know how you’re going to behave until it happens. And my fight style is still unknown to me. The closest I ever came to getting into a fight was in sixth grade when a girl at the mall pushed me into a rack of clothing because I told her to stop making fun of my cousin, who was dressed like Madonna. I believe I ran—and I’ll probably do the same when Junior turns into Emily Rose.

But back Stop & Shop. Junior and I were putting our 20 pints of strawberries on the conveyor belt when The Screamer pulled up behind us. I turned and got a good look. The Screamer was sharing a cart with her toddler brother, who was trying to pat her on the head but really was pulling her hair. A cute little mom was at the wheel. A cute little mom with bags under her eyes. And nutso hair. And a wrinkled shirt.

The little girl looked at the rack of shiny candy bars and wailed, “I WAAAANT A CAAAAAAANDY BAAAAAAR.” Sob. Wail. Sob. Wail. “I WAAAANT A CAAAAAAANDY BAAAAAAR.”

My initial thought was Nooooooooooooo, why me? Junior looked like he was watching a fleet of technicolor dolphins shoot across the sky and sprinkle the moon with fucking leprechauns. He was mesmerized. The mom looked at me and said, “She’s having a rough day.”

I was about to say, "No shit" when she said, “I got in line behind you because I knew you’d understand.”

Aww. I nodded and smiled like a sap.

On the ride home, every time I thought of her saying that I got all choked up. I did understand, and I was flattered she saw me as a safe refuge. Usually people think I'm a bitch (I don't know why, but I always forget to smile in public). The woman needed a break. We all need a break. More booze and more breaks!

Another thought I had on the ride home? When Junior has his first major meltdown I am totally scouring the town for her. She owes me a new eardrum.


Mrs. C. said...

Good story. Sometimes you think to yourself, "No, that's all I need today", other times you think, "That parent has enough people giving her the stink-eye, I don't need to add to her load..."

I was in line once, though, in front of a parent with a child who was having a total freak-on. Big ol' tantrum and she was responding in some of the most ineffective "How Not To Parent" ways. I was trying to will the cashier to hurry up with my stuff when Pony Girl, age 3, leaned around me and said in her sweet voice, "If you'd just slap him in the mouth he'd knock that crap off..."

Um, check, please.

Minka said...

When a mom was trying to get her kid home while he was screaming on the stairs of our apartment building, I told her with a smile:" Mine were never like that..." - in a way that made her know I was kidding.

But it doesn't really matter what others think. Still, does he have to go shopping with you? I guess it's a matter of daily routine and can't do it otherwise... maybe you could do a quick shopping trip later for the following day... I don't really see shopping - especially with a tired kid - as good quality time.

Pricilla said...

I am glad I am a goat. I only have to deal with my kid hopping on my back and trying to suck me dry. And butting me and hopping on my back some more.

No temper tantrums though....

Keely said...

Heh, people usually assume I'm a bitch too. I have this habit of frowning when I concentrate which makes me look like I have a permanent scowl.

Here's hoping I find a safe refuge Mom when X has his first major meltdown, too.

Jeanne said...

When Anne was that age and we took her to the grocery (and, mind you, I'm 19 but look like 14), she would hold up her arms and lift her tear-drenched little face to strangers and beg, "Help me!"

The Mother said...

Your new mom friend got lucky. We moms USUALLY get frowns of disapproval, loud complaints and unsolicited advice--from other MOMS!

She found you, and you gave her what she needed--a smile and a knowing nod. I would have killed for that when mine were on a tear.

I thank you, for her, even if she didn't. And you can borrow my eardrum anytime.

resplendentlife said...

First of all Mrs. C, that was hilarious!
Awww, Mrs. Mullet you must have had your nice face on. I'm glad you were honored that she chose you, because I would have been furious.
I know all of our kids do it, but still.......

Leanne said...

Yep. They have bad days. Sometimes I wish I could scream down the store for chocolate bars too.

Oh wait, I do.

Dto3 said...

Just remember - when Junior has his first fit, don't put him on the roof of your car (not in public anyway).

Mrsbear said...

Love the penis analogy. It's always nice to see a sympathetic face vs. a disapproving scowl, although the latter is usually more common. My kids routinely scare the world especially if I'm stupid enough to take more than one of them on a shopping trip. They're like wild monkeys.

Yaya said...

Yeah, I'm a nanny, I've gone through my fair share of melt-downs. I think I can handle them better than parents can because for me, their cries don't make me cringe in sympathy the way it does for their parent. It's just another screaming kid to me so I'm able to ignore it pretty well!

Otter Thomas said...

No one has ever accused me of looking understanding. People never come down our aisle at the movie and ask to get by. Maybe I should smile more.

When we get to melt down territory I may never leave the house.

Jenni Jiggety said...

I have quickly forgotten the FEAR of the public temper tantrum! ACK!

I heard one the other day in Target that was was coming from the back of the store and them employees in the front were all giving each other a nervous "WTF" look.

How to Party with an Infant said...

I catch myself giving parents the stink eye when their child is a mess...then I feel bad

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

umm...I used to do the weakly at all the other parents when my son was having his meltdown!
Thanks for your understanding!! Make sure Junior wasn't taking notes!!

2 Brits, 2 Yanks, 2 Dogs said...

I remember when my son was 3 weeks old and my daughter was just turning 2 - she fell asleep in the car and I woke her up to run into Trader Joes for some milk. You would have thought I was murdering her, she had one of those flailing around on the floor moments. I walked 10 steps away and watched until she calmed down - I truly had no idea what to do with her - she was so out of control/tired and so was I for that matter. Thankfully she has never ever done anything like that again. All the other mums were looking at me and I could read their minds - I knew exactly what they were thinking. So been there done that.

Jen said...

Like childbirth the pain of the meltdowns fades with time. I know my kids had them but the memories are vague at this point. I love it when people suggest that you don't bring your tired kid to the store, obviously they don't have kids and don't understand that when you are out of milk or tequila a screaming kid is the least of your worries. Errands have to be done at times when it might not work best for the kid but I don't recall ever believing it was all about them. They need to learn to suck it up. And any good parent knows that bribery can work wonders.

I'm glad you were there for that mom, I remember once when the boy was about a year old. I had just been served with divorce papers and had to go to Mexico with my parents (as they gave us the trip for a xmas gift). I didn't want to go. My mom was in a wheelchair so she and dad boarded the plane early. I had all the baby accouterments, stroller, port-a-crib plus luggage and the boy. I was barely managing when this man came up and grabbed most everything but the boy and helped me get everything settled. After I was seated and the boy was calm I sat there and cried over this stranger's generosity. I still choke up when I think about it. Sometimes the littlest things mean so much.

Julia said...

That's one of those things that somebody says to you and you remember it for a long long time. When strangers say something to you for some reason it can mean more than family at times... But good to know you are not always looking like a bridge. ;)

Audrey said...

Now I'm going to spend the rest of the night thinking about what I would do with a penis on my head.