(This is one of those therapeutic-for-me posts that will be even more tedious for you to read than it was for me to live. It’s also one that definitely helps me earn my bona fides as a Mommy Blogger. And, since it’s a post that catches me in some less-than-shining parenting moments, please remember that I was very sick, and judge me kindly.)
This morning I was awake very early, both because I was so sick it was hard to breathe or sleep, and also because I was thinking about how I needed to cancel all my commitments for the next couple of days and was wondering how to do that without using the phone, since it hurts to talk. I got up and showered and wrote one email and had Dean help me make one phone call, but we didn’t reach the neighbor I was trying to call. Then I was able to crawl back into bed until it was time for me to drive carpool. After dropping Mabel and her friends off at school, I decided to dare a quick trip to Target with Rose and Henry. Even though I wanted nothing less than to appear in public today, and had left my shopping list at home, I was thinking that if I stocked up on crackers, cookies, bread, and fruit, Rose and Henry would be able to more-or-less feed themselves today, and I could let them go feral while I napped. I told Rose, “We’re going to the store, and since I can only whisper, I need you to stay RIGHT NEXT TO ME all the time, because if you run away from me, I can’t call after you. Also, don’t touch anything in the store.”
When we got there the store was nearly empty, and, gazing to the far end of the store where the screens in the electronics department were flashing bright blurry images, I briefly felt like I was in a science fiction film. Since I had a couple of things to return, we went first to the Customer Service desk. Then Rose announced, “I need to go potty” — and ran off. I followed as quickly as I could stagger. Leaving Henry in the cart outside the bathroom, I held the bathroom door open and called Rose’s name in the loudest whisper I could summon. She’d already finished using the bathroom. “Rose, I told you not to run away from me.” “But I needed to go right then!” “That doesn’t matter — you HAVE to stay with me. Don’t run away next time.”
We returned to our shopping and I picked out some crackers and let Rose help choose some apples, and then I reluctantly admitted to myself that now I needed to use the bathroom. This time we left the cart outside and I unloaded Henry. We used the handicapped stall, and I told Rose, “Don’t open the door until I tell you to.” Seconds later, she opened the door and then hastily closed it. “Rose, I SAID DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!” “I was just making sure it worked.” Henry got down on his hands and knees. “Henry, don’t touch the floor, it’s dirty.” He sat on the floor instead. Then he tried to peer under the wall of the stall at the people in the next booth (another mother and child. A much better-behaved child than mine.) “Henry, don’t look under there. Stand up.” Henry stood up and grabbed the door latch. “Henry, DON’T OPEN THE DOOR.” I started to pull up my pants. Rose opened the door. “ROSE, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR UNTIL I TELL YOU I’M READY.”
Once we’d returned to our shopping, Henry began coughing, coughing, and coughing. Chagrined to be spreading such awful germs, I thought about wiping down the cart handle with a sanitary hand wipe — but since I hadn’t planned to go to the store, I hadn’t brought the diaper bag where I keep the hand wipes.
Rose kept pulling cookies and other goodies off the shelves and asking if we could buy them. I kept saying “No,” and telling her not to touch anything. She asked if we could buy some Dora popsicles. I said no, and chose some other, less brightly-colored popsicles. She said, “You always choose. You never let me choose.” Then she sat down on a low shelf and said, “I’m in a time-out.” I went back to look at the Dora popsicles again. They were in vibrant rainbow hues and declared themselves to use all-natural flavors and colors — whatever that meant. They did have more in the package than the more nutritious type. I relented. I had to whisper, “I changed my mind; I’ll buy the Dora popsicles,” three times before Rose heard me and would leave her self-imposed time-out.
We went to pay for our cartload of snacks, and I saw my neighbor’s husband in line at the one open check stand. Even though I needed to give his wife a message (that I almost certainly won’t make it to our Relief Society presidency meeting tomorrow morning,) I just didn’t feel like being seen by anyone, nor trying to converse when I had laryngitis, so, even though we had frozen things in our cart, I turned back away from the check stands. We went to the girls’ department, and I picked out a Hello Kitty t-shirt for Rose that she doesn’t need. I forgot to look for the new shoes Henry does need. We made our way back to the front of the store, and, although my neighbor was still in his line, there were now two more check stands open, so I was able to take one further from him and give a little wave without having to actually talk. My cashier asked brightly, “How are you doing today?” “Fine,” I whispered, thinking that small talk is a blessing when you don’t feel like talking at all.
When we were back in the car and headed home, Rosie announced, “That was FUN going to the grocery! Thank you, Mommy, for taking me and Henry to the store! I love you, Mommy! You’re the best Mommy!” Then she told me about how her favorite toy Lambie is going to be having a baby tomorrow, and that the baby’s “going to be the cutest ever. And Lambie’s going to keep her forever and ever and ever.”
Just like I’m going to keep Rose forever and ever and ever.