Pacing the floor To soothe That neurotic itch To get a few steps more For the FitBit lift But the floor is a maze A Labyrinth worth pacing A veritable … Continue reading The Maze of a Modern Mom
Oh, my, this is wonderful. It reminds me of my first few weeks in England, the most noteworthy moment was when I went into The Royal Bank of Scotland (because, being American, it was the closest bank to where I lived, so naturally, it was where I thought I’d do my banking). I walked up to the counter and informed the teller that I was an American student on a student visa and would like to set up a student bank account. The conversation (if one could call it that) went something like this:
Me <23-years-old and proud of herself for studying abroad>: “Hi! I’m doing a master’s degree here and would like to set up an international student banking account! Do you do that here?”
Clerk (who, to my surprise, is actually Scottish, imagine that, in the Royal Bank of Scotland): “Oh, why, certainly <begins speaking indecipherable polite speak at superhuman levels>, aaaaand we can do that today, if you’d like.”
Me <bewildered and ashamed that I had absolutely no clue what had just happened> : “Um, I’m sorry, I didn’t get that, could you say that again?”
Clerk: “Oh, certainly! You’re American, are you?! Well, we have <begins speaking indecipherable polite speak at somehow increased superhuman levels>, if one of those options works for you”.
Me: “Gosh, I’m really sorry, but I still didn’t get that… Could you go just a little slower. I’m jet-lagged.”
Clerk: “Why, CERT-AIN-LY, dear, <begins speaking indecipherable polite speak at superhuman levels>.”
Me : “Um, I’m so sorry. Do you have a pamphlet?”
When he slid it across the marbled counter toward me, I sputtered a thank you and fled in shame. I spent the next two years learning how very little I knew about the world. Like, telling my housemates I didn’t like pudding, then trying to describe why I was sad when they brought out Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for everyone but me. To me, pudding was, well, a sugary paste you make for people who’ve had their wisdom teeth out. Or put in a pie and cover up with whip cream. And a biscuit is NOT a cookie, and if you ask me if I left my jumper over by the piano, I would tell you I haven’t owned a jumper since I was four. Oh, you mean my sweat shirt? Yes, yes, that’s mine. Yeah, there’s some adjustment, and in the first few weeks, you feel like the people speaking your language are more foreign almost, because they’re speaking familiar words, but they’re using all the words differently.Oh, and don’t get me started on the pronunciation of “skeletal” and “aluminum.” *shudder*
“D’ya want [incomprehensible noise]?”
“Um, I’m sorry, what?”
“D’ya want [incomprehensible noise]?”
“I’m–um–sorry, one more time?”
“D’ya want [incomprehensible noise]?”
“I… no. No, thanks.”
I am in London, in a cafe on Charlotte Street, where I learn in short order that drip coffee is an American thing, and there is something else that I could have on my avocado toast, but I don’t know what it is and I’m not going to say yes on the off-chance it’s Marmite. That seems like the kind of stunt they might pull in a country where coffee is served in cups that look like doll furniture. Nobody’s awake enough to know better.
It’s the first time I’ve left America in nearly a decade. I live in a world where this is rare: as an employee of a multinational corporation, and also a white person who went to liberal arts college, my unmarked passport is a curiosity…
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So, for the most part, my kids are amazing. They are sweet and precious and their laughter makes my heart feel all warm and tingly, and I feel like the best mom. For about five, maybe ten minutes. You know, before the laughing, sharing tender carebears morph into screaming, growling, bottomless pits of need that seem to operate on the MAX volume setting. Then my head hurts, my nerves ache, and I reach for the aceteminophen.
When I picked my one and three-year old up from preschool this past Friday, I was so excited. We were going to start the weekend off with a great shopping trip! Yay! My daughter could get herself new boots, my son needed new shoes, and I needed a purse and epipen holder for my newly diagnosed mango allergy. I somehow thought that this was going to be FUN! The kids were excited to see me, they laughed and giggled in the car. My husband and I shared that look that said “we are so blessed” and squeezed each other’s hands. Then, tiredness of a whole week of school, playing, and learning set in, and the high-pitched whining and grunting fest began. All parents (and uncles or anyone who has been, um, “fortunate” enough to be trapped on the highway in 6pm traffic in a busy city, with a three-year-old and a one-year-old) know the drill. It all started with a simple, “hey, he has something I don’t!” that went something like this:
Daughter: “Mooooooooooommmmmmy! I want his binky!”
Me: “That’s his binky, sweetie, and you only use binkies at night-time, remember?”
Me: “Oh, sweetie, it’s okay, we’re going to go to the store and if you can hold out until we get home, I’ll watch Boxtrolls with you and we can have popcorn!”
Daughter: (thinks about this) “Okay.”
Daughter: <Crying at the top of her lungs> “MOOOOOOOOOOMMY!!! HE TOOK MY BLANKET!!!”
Me: “How did he do that? He can’t reach your blanket unless you gave it to him?”
Daughter: “No, he reached over here and tooked it! He did!”
Son: “ggaah-gaah-gah!” *giggles* D: “I WANT MY BLANKET! GIMME MY BLANKET!”
Me: “When we get to the store, I’ll get you your blanket back.”
S: <screaming> “GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHH!GHHHHH!!! GHHH!”
D: “It’s okay, I taked it back.”
S: <continues screaming because there’s nothing so tragic as having some new toy that is immediately taken away from you.>
D: “He lost his binky, Mommy.”
Me: <looks back and sees his binky in her mouth and a defiant look on her face, and takes a few breaths before deciding whether Anna and Kristoff are going on timeout, or if there will be no Boxtrolls later.>
Let’s just say, that the above summarizes the first five minutes of the post-dinner drive to the vintage store where we were going to be responsible citizens and purchase sustainable, reused items. Instead, we got to the store and found nothing, and after chasing our children around the store, three fits, one bruised shin and crushed toe, and another 30 minute drive, one attempted accidental shoplifting by a three-year-old, we returned home where I promptly ordered everything online.
So, the moral of the story is shopping is NOT fun with toddlers. I’m pretty sure toddlers are at least half the reason online shopping is so popular. And, don’t get me wrong, I try to be green, I really do. I’m a hippie at heart and would love for nothing better than to shop local and purchase only items that have been thoroughly vetted by a life-cycle analysis for the sustainability of the manufacturing of every single component. But, the screaming. My hippie, “you can talk anything out if you just put enough love in your voice” attitude was not prepared for the sheer determination of toddlers hell-bent on being unhappy about something. You just have to ride the storm and wait until they become reasonable balls of adorableness again. So, for the time being, most of my shopping will be done online.
Plus, shopping online has these amazing benefits:
- You won’t spend the worst two minutes of your life screaming your toddler’s name because she decided to play hide-and-go-seek behind the check-out-stand and you become convinced that someone has snatched her and you’re going to spend the next few decades wondering why you had left your toddler leash in the car because now your child has been kidnapped, and the worst of the worst is going to happen and did you really need those organic grapes anyway?
- You won’t get those judgey glares from folks as your toddler throws an all-out screaming fit because you won’t let her take the life-sized Elsa doll home, which is compounded by your 1-year-old deciding that if the world is ending, he’s pretty unhappy about it, too.
- No lines. Seriously. Waiting in line as you watch the count-down click past bed-time and watch the kiddos slowly turn into writhing monsters is the worst. There’s nothing you can do unless you want to abandon your shopping (and the last 45-minutes to two-hours of your life) and run away in defeat.
- No finding odd things in your cart (who knew I wanted to try coconut chip pumpkin chai coffee? I didn’t!)
- No discovering random things in your toddler’s pockets that require you to turn-around and return to the store in the “we didn’t buy this” walk of shame.
- No screaming.
- You can drink while you shop and no one but your husband/spouse/partner/dogs will know.
- Did I mention no screaming?