Strange things seem to be happening to my kids lately. Strange as in:
1. Possibly being possessed by ADD alter-egos
2. Morphing into a skeleton-free mass of squishy flesh and falling to the floor in front of perfect strangers [we’ll re-visit this]
3. Running through public places as though their skivvies are filled with miniature fire-breathing dragons
4. Listening and obeying with the acuteness and precision of Helen Keller in her pre-Miss Sullivan years
Oh, Holy Holy Holy.
What am I to do but lose my everloving mind? I should consider consuming mass quantities of chocolate-based desserts in the dark. While chain-smoking and rocking back-and-forth, humming Danny Boy.
Tonight I about came unglued. Luckily, I have perfected the art of disciplining my children with a fake smile on my face so the store video cameras don’t see some crazy lady in aisle ten who needs to be turned over to CPS. This proved to come in handy…
We went to Target to get a prescription filled and had roughly fifteen minutes to kill while the pharmacists added watermelon flavoring to the magic elixir. We trolled the floor for a bit finding things we never knew we needed, but now want desperately for Christmas. As we approached the sporting goods area, however, I realized that M, my nearly-four-year-old, was no longer in our caravan. Great. I thought. The store was packed and there I was walking up and down each aisle calling his name. People looked at me like I was just a delinquent or quite possibly a leper, but I plodded on. After a few minutes and no sign of WonderBoy, I asked my two other children to look in the next aisle over to see if they’d have better luck. This proved to be a mistake, as they seemingly wandered into the next zip code, disregarding my appeal to stay in the neighboring aisle. At the same time, thankfully, I located M, sweatshirt hood on, running away from me in the other direction.
What a little angel, that child.
I caught up to him, squatted down to his level and squeezed his hand while telling him how scared he had me, and how his brother and sister were now out on their own mini-search-party-gone-wrong. I could see that my speech was really hitting home. Just really–really impacting his heart.
He stared at me, smiling and stomping his left foot.
I spun on my heels and went to look for the other two, carrying my shopping basket in one hand and M’s hand in a deathgrip with the other. I returned to pacing the aisles, this time calling different names but getting the same steely-eyed glare from other, much more gifted parents. This one guy seemed to fling his gaze my way as if to say, “Great parenting, lady. Ever heard of Jo Frost? Supernanny? Yeah–get her on speed dial. NOW.”
We abandoned the housewares section with no trace of J or A, and headed toward the toy department still shamelessly calling their names in high volume. [Such a picture of control and ease, isn’t it?]. I saw a flash turning the corner ahead of me and thought for sure it was my son’s jacket! We hightailed it toward the toothbrushes, M dragging like a rag doll striving to keep up with my pace.
I called their names again.
The man at the electronics counter turned to meet me. “Can I help you find something, Ma’am?”
“Yeah–my kids.” [Again–control and ease]
Finally I caught up with them and knelt down to hug them both. Yes, it had only been 5 or 10 minutes, but have you seen the cover of People Magazine this week? The kidnapping stories have been flying around like monarchs in Mexico, and I’d be lying if I said the corners of fear hadn’t started to wrap around my heart.
~~Fast forward to our Exit~~
With watermelon prescription safely paid for and in a bag with three new glass picture frames and some Pull-ups, our crew headed for the door with fresh promises to “get a grip” and “listen to mom” still hovering in the air.
Apparently I need to define get a grip. I’m sure there must be a Bible verse for that somewhere.
M, my aforementioned little angel, went running ahead of me, flying past the refrigerated section and stopping to violently open and slam each door. I was ready to chuck my picture frames on the floor and let the glass shatter like the screams I wanted to unleash, when I looked up to see the Jo Frost guy. Awesome. What classic, perfect timing.
Instead of screaming, I calmly affixed my fake smile for the cameras, set down the bags, and reached out to grab his sweatshirt. He fell to the ground like a slug, twisting to release himself, and it just pissed me off strengthened my resolve to be a loving, yet stern parent who is not controlled by emotion–but rather, by rational thought processes.
So what did I do?
I told him that he was not obeying and that he was acting like a baby. And so, I would happily treat him like a baby by making him revert to diapers at bedtime instead of his new pull-ups. And let me tell you, it’s amazing how much “big boys” want to be treated like “big boys” instead of babies.
I hope he sleeps soundly tonight. Those size 4’s are a tight fit…