Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Officially a Bad Mom

A warning for those prone to judging other mothers: The following episode includes Threats of Child Abandonment and Refusal of a Child's Request to Eat Carrots.

I took our kindergartener to Target on Saturday. Really, the trip went well, with all shopping missions accomplished, except that my daughter, a daydreamer and wanderer, had trouble Staying With Me In The Store. Now there's a skill any self-respecting mother expects her children ages four and up to have acquired and practice regularly. Alas, I rarely take my children shopping, both for their sake and mine. Hence the World of Target is fascinating to Daughter #1 and she wanted to linger in each and every aisle.

See, I have little patience for shopping to begin with, and after urging my daughter to, "C'mon, we're going THIS WAY," and hearing in response, "But Mommy, wait...come look at THIS," for the umpteenth time, I was like, "Look, you're going to get LOST, and I am going to have to LEAVE you here, and then you'll spend the NIGHT in Target."

Daughter blinked at me as if to say, Really? Sleep in the toy aisle, with the Bratz dolls you hate so much? Hunh...

We spent the remainder of the shopping experience with me, moving on just after kindly warning my Littlest Pet Shopper that I was soon to be out of sight, and her, somehow finding me right before she or I panicked. Okay, yes, I was pushing it a little; I needed to get my shopping DONE.

Today I took her to Cost Plus World Market for some Christmas Eve Eve recon. And it wasn't long before she was bugging me with the "Mom, can we buy one of these? How about just ONE of these and I can have it later? Mom, Mom, Mom! Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaase?" I reminded her that we could head on home and review our copy of The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies, because she was behaving just like Brother and Sister Bear at the supermarket.

She was carrying around some ridiculous piece of candy I would never buy--probably a cosmopolitan confection, given that it was Cost Plus--and I told her, "Go Put It Back. And then I will be right down this aisle." And I pointed.

I strolled down the aisle and waited. After a moment or two, just past the moment I thought my daughter should be reappearing, I poked my head around the corner and saw a World Market employee marching toward me, with my daughter and a concerned-looking couple (including pregnant woman) close behind.

"Are you her mother?" the Cost Plus Man asked.

"Yes..." I sighed, exasperated and without the tears of gratitude I am sure were expected at such a reunion of mother and child.

"See! Your mom was just a little preoccupied," offered the employee to my noticably UNemotional daughter.

"Wait, wait, wait," I argued. "As a matter of fact, I would say she was the one who was preoccupied." And I pointed at my firstborn.

The husband/partner in the pregnant couple kneeled down in front of our daughter. "I told you, your mother would NEVER leave you in a store all by yourself." He nodded at me, and I cocked my head at my kid to see if she might remember my threat from only three days before and give me away. But she only nodded silently. The World Market Man and the couple resumed their prior engagements, triumphant at a good deed done for the day.

Daughter and I hissed recriminations at each other: "You took too long! All you had to do was Put It Back!" "You were NOT where you said you would be!" "If you had stayed with me from the start..."

Before we left the store, we chanced upon the same couple and I suggested that my daughter could thank them for helping find me. She did, and we commenced some small talk in the bedding section.

I pointed at the pregnant woman's bulging belly and observed: "They're a lot easier to keep track of when they're inside, ha ha!" And then more seriously, "When are you due?"

"Early February," she replied.

Her eager husband/partner jumped in with, "So, what do you think: epidural or not?"

Whoah. You did NOT just ask a Random Woman in the store for labor advice on behalf of YOUR WIFE? Dude, please.

I have to say, it made me feel much better about my lost kid in the store. Bad Mother, meet Bad Husband. Of course, Bad Husband didn't even know he should be ashamed.

"You know what?" I generously replied, "I am a big fan of Having a Plan, and then being prepared to Go With The Flow" (or the lack thereof, in my own personal experience).

They are so lucky I didn't actually have a strong opinion on the matter. Probably he's really lucky.


Fast forward to the end of the day, when Littlest Daughter has been tucked into bed and her Big Sister is getting perilously close to her own witching hour: "Can I have just one more cookie?" she begs.

"Nope. You already had some. If you want something now, you can have carrots."

"Hmmph." She burrows back into the couch. Ten minutes later she emerges.

"Can I watch something?"

"Nope. It's very close to bedtime."

"Can I have carrots, then?"

"Well, now it's too late."

"But, MOM! You offered me carrots! You can't just take that away!"

"Oh, yes, I can. Offers expire."

Silence. What does expire mean?

"Offers don't expire!"

"Yes they do. I can even show you an offer I wanted to use that quite unfortunately expired."

She sputters, "That is SO unfair!" Pause. "You know, I worked SO hard All Day Long, and..."

"What??? You worked hard...what? Making gingerbread men? With candy? While eating it? Really?" And I am laughing very, very hard.

Daughter, now sobbing, angry that I am enjoying a comical moment at her expense, seeks solace with her sympathetic father, who puts her to bed.

"She wants you to kiss her goodnight," he says, emerging from the bedroom.

"Are you sure? She was really mad at me..."

I find her lying in her bed, looking at me a little circumspect. "You laughed at me," she whispers.

"I know...I'm sorry, honey, but I just didn't think you had a really hard-working day...I mean, most of it was fun..."

"Well, Mom, it was kind of hard work following you everywhere in the store..."

I paused. "You know what, kiddo? I'll give you that."

We apologized to each other and made a deal, both to stick with each other and to also look when the other one points.

So we don't miss anything, after all.

1 comment:

me said...

I wish I were as BAD a mom as you.