This is a “guest post” from my Exemplary Girlfriend. The story is mildly adapted—and disguised—from an email she sent me a few years ago describing a trip to an amusement park with her two sons. She said I could share. I think you will see why we are friends.
Some days I wonder whether my kids are going to survive childhood. Or whether I am going to survive.
So, yes, I bought them souvenir cups ($7.99 with .99 refills, not the $9.99 cup that came with free refills). It was against my better judgment since we got a similar souvenir cup at the Bronx Zoo just days earlier. But did I learn my lesson? Noooooo. Not me. Ok, I thought, so the kid lost his Bronx Zoo souvenir cup. Ok, this is a fresh start. No recriminations. Childhood is fleeting. And I was not going to be a guilt-inducing, punishing witch of a mom. Heh. Heh.
Son #1 asked if he could re-fill his souvenir cup at the first concession stand we found. He stood in a moderately short line that took excessively long to process. After an interminably long stretch of time, I looked up at the line, and he had made it to the top of the queue. Yay! But the next thing I knew he had become detached from the line, as if he had been kicked out of the orbit of his planetary arc. I wondered why he seemed to be doing an aimless free float instead of planted in the junk food firmament.
Did you get served, I asked.
No, I didn’t, Son said.
Go back and get served, I said.
Um, no, that’s ok, Son said.
Go back and get served, I said, insisting.
Um, no, Son said, clearly embarrassed.
GO BACK AND GET SERVED, I whisper-screamed.
GO. BACK. AND. GET. SERVED.
GO BACK AND GET SERVED!!!!
In the face of all this, still Son dragged his feet, but the boy made his way to the back of the line to wait again. That is when I went, um, BALLISTIC.
I yanked him over to the cashier, not caring what the people in line thought. I said to the cashier: Excuse me, my son was standing in line and never got served. I said it in a weirdly calm manner, as if I was a reasonable person. But then I cracked: DID YOU SEE HIM STANDING IN LINE???
No, ma’am. The cashiers looked stunned.
I was frothing. Then I said: He was in line to get a refill and I WANT HIM TO BE SERVED.
Suffice it to say that Son was cowering in embarrassment but got served. Then came the tirade: Son, I am not standing in line for my health. (I don’t know where this “for my health” line came from, but out it came. And it seemed to fit. So I went with it.) I guess my thinking was, if you stand in a ridiculous line to get a refill of high-margin sugar water in a souvenir cup I paid way too much for, you BETTER DAMN WELL get it.
My (LK) reflection on this account, in the form of a wish for all sons and mothers:
May you stay planted in your firmament. May you go back and get served. May I live to see another day.