Junk Food Firmament

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.
Mom, no!
Mom …

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.

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