16 February 2008

Coffee can't fix everything.

Tonight I saw a woman doing something I have done more than a few times before. She was waiting outside the bathroom door at Barnes and Noble, determining if intervention would be needed, curious and scared to see who emerged. A kind gesture toward a child or other recipient of someone's wrath. The sad part is that this woman was waiting for me.

The evening had gone well up until about 10 minutes prior to the bathroom. Augusto is out of town, so I took the kids shopping. We picked out a twin futon for Stella to delighted mattress diving and lollipop games. We went to the noodle place at her request (load back in the car, drive, wrangle the van into a spot...). We waited for a table. We got silly and impressed the patrons with two charming kids scarfing down tofu and broccoli. I cleaned Otto's mess. I let Stella eat a lollipop. We paid and left the restaurant.

And then Stella asked to go to the bookstore. I knew this meant play with the train table and then ask for a book. It was already 7:40. I wanted to go home. Otto was tired. I was tired. I sensed a tantrum in the air. She had already hit the pavement before we went to the noodle place. I just couldn't handle another melt down. So I said yes. My first mistake. She wanted another Dora book. Dora is ok in theory, but she is a TV series, not a book character. We have never seen her show, but the books suck. Thin TV-based plot, stupid lines. "Say no swiping, Swiper!" Say, what?! She loves Dora books, but they're killing me. The she wanted Strawberry Shortcake. I could only imagine how much I would like it. I don't want to squelch her desires, but how does she even know about this crap? She doesn't watch TV! I want to read real stories with her. Or poetry. Or at least cool rhyme. So I directed her to some Caldecott winners. And some Dr. Seuss. We were on to tantrum three and she still had a jumbo Blow Pop in her mouth. And it was 8:30 or some similar ridiculous time. And I had to pee and change Otto's diaper before we left.

After threating to take away the lolli, leave her in the store, and not get her any more books, she hastily picked an actual book (as opposed to every crappy book with batteries). Somehow I managed to storm her off to the bathroom. Of course, on the way in she wanted to drink from the fountain (to high for her to do it on her own). My arm was killing with Otto. My bladder was dying. I said no. The stall time was equally perfect. Otto touched every disgusting surface and Stella whined about wanting to finish her lolli, not go home, etc. We made it to the sink. Otto first, Stella second. While I was washing Stella's hands, Otto sneaked off and put his hand into an unflushed toilet. I was already obviously peeved at my kids and not even trying anymore to conceal my anger, frustration, and general sense of impending doom. But the dirty toilet sealed the deal. I slammed down her new book and told her to stop making trouble as she cried for her book while I washed Otto's hands about 23 million times.

That's when I exited to the eavesdropping woman. I don't know what she thought. Maybe she heard the slamming book and, "SHIT!" and though I had hit my kid. Perhaps she just felt bad for Stella who more than once said (tears streaming), "Sorry, Mama."

Walking to the car, Stella asked, "Are you mad at Otto?" No, I was mad at myself.


thordora said...

Ugh. I've had those days where I just KNOW someone thinks I'm killing my kids. While somedays it's tempting.... :)

It is nice to know someone cares, even if it seems like snooping. :)

kim the midwife said...

It was a wake up call. What good does it do to yell at a 3 year old? As embarrassed- and pissed I was at the stranger- I would want a reality check if I needed one.

Thx for the empathy.