Last Monday, after finding a pretty little china tea set in the closet, my daughter and I decided to invite the neighbors over on Friday (yesterday) for a special tea party. How cute are we?!
Yesterday I spent all day literally scrubbing the shit out of my house. I cleaned every single surface of my downstairs. Base boards, walls, cabinets, shelves, floors. Everything got dusted and scrubbed. I was so excited when it was finished, but then realized that I only had 1/2 hour left to go to the grocery store and buy food for the party, before I needed to get Brooke off the bus.
Since she’s in kindergarten, I have to meet her at the bus stop, or else they’ll take her back to the school and call me, which would be the ultimate fail.
I packed Leif into the car as fast as possible, motored to the store, and promised a small toy in return for his ultimate cooperation.
At the store, we have a full cart and 10 minutes to spare. Just enough time to pick out a toy, pay and get home in time.
Leif is indecisive. He flip flops from one crappy toy to the next. This is starting to make me sweat. I’m scared we won’t have time. I give him a 2 minute warning. He doesn’t find what he wants. I pick up a toy and hand it to him, get down to his level, look him in the eye, and say, YOU CAN HAVE THIS. CHRISTMAS IS COMING. WE NEED TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW, WE CAN’T MISS BROOKE…. OK?
NOT. OK. He launches a full-blown tantrum. I put him in the cart and run to the line.
In front of me is a lovely Jamaican woman. She’s laughing at his tantrum. We commiserate. This is going well.
He turns up the volume. Jamaican woman gives me a look, and barks out “PICK HIM UP! PICK HIM UP! PICK HIM UP”. Uh oh.
Scared, I try picking him up. He shoves me. He punches me, right in the boob. I am embarrassed.
I start whispering in his ear, which kind of gets him to calm down.
Jamaican woman comes over and hands him, seriously, a KIT KAT. WHAT? His head spins completely around on its axis, as he screams NOOO at her. Now she’s scared. She goes, “OH, HE MAD!” and runs away.
The crying continues. I’m running low on time, only minutes left until I’m late for the bus. It’s hot in the store. It’s crowded. Leif is still screaming bloody murder. I look around. Everyone in the store looks absolutely miserable. Some are looking miserably at me. Scratch that, everyone is looking miserably at me.
What’s the holdup in the line? Uh oh. The 80 year old checkout lady is coming around to help Jamaican woman, who can’t seem to figure out how to use the credit card swipe machine.
I’m literally living a nightmare. Time stands still, I can hear my own heartbeat, and in a feat of superhuman strength, I wrestle the struggling Leif out of the cart, leave all the food that was laid out on the conveyor belt, and begin to book it out of the store. He is REALLY screaming now. The Jamaican woman is screaming “Don’t leave, I’m sorry, I’ll be done soon!” I yell (but with his screaming, it actually looks like I’m mouthing) the words “I HAVE TO PICK MY DAUGHTER UP AT THE BUS, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, I DON’T HAVE TIME!”. She mouths back “OK”.
We turn and begin booking it out of there again, and now, 3 woman are screaming at me not to leave! WTF?? I look back and one’s jumping and waving Leif’s shoe in the air. I can’t get out of here! I have to go back for the shoe. When will this end?
Finally, shoe in hand I begin running toward the exit. EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the grocery store is staring at me. My face is red hot. I’m fighting tears.
We get in the car and begin driving home. He’s screaming. I can’t speak. After a few minutes, I look back at him, and barely choke out the words “YOU CAN’T ACT LIKE THAT!”. My voice is not my own. It sounds hoarse, angry and growly. Like the voice of a bear, if a bear tried to talk.
What have I become?
He continues to cry, and then starts what sounds like puking. Un. Be. Leivable. This has never happened. I couldn’t even look. Finally he stops crying.
Miraculously when we arrive at the bus stop, I look, and there’s no puke anywhere! There is a god.
Calmly, I pick up Brooke. Leif now acts like nothing out of the ordinary has happened.
I drive home. Leaving the happy kids in the car, and go inside. I call my neighbor, planning to cancel, knowing that’s going to be extremely disappointing to the unsuspecting, and undeserving Brooke. What else can I do?
I begin telling her the story. She cuts me off and says, come over, drop your kids off here, then go finish your grocery shopping.
There are just some people who come into your life, and literally may become your angel, if only for a moment. This is one of those people.
I took her up on her offer. I went to the ghetto-ass Save-A-Lot, because I can never go back to Stop and Shop, and we had the tea party, just a little late.
I look back on that episode as one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. That might sound melodramatic, but it’s really true. I literally am in a cold sweat as I write and relive this story. Don’t let this happen to you folks. Don’t try to take a 3 year old to the grocery store in a rush.