Monday, October 22, 2012

Who's the child here? One blog entry I am ashamed to post

It was almost so perfect— one of those quintessential New England autumn weekends with cool, crisp weather, colorful foliage, pumpkin picking, homemade pumpkin bread, delicious apple cider, and best of all some much-needed QT as a family.
On Saturday, we went to a fall festival. Lila had hoped to get her face painted but the line was way too long.
“Don’t worry, Lila. I’ll paint your face at home,” I happily suggested. Mama saves the day.
Lila’s face lit up as she debated out loud whether she should be a skeleton or a jack-o-lantern. Sunday morning, she was so excited to get done up as a spooky skeleton and I was happy to help create this magic for her. And so our Sunday family day began.
All was good, until what seemed like a fun suggestion turned so wrong—“Let’s stop in the Christmas Tree Shoppe.”
My husband was outwardly not interested and announced that he would wait in the car. Lila, thumb in her mouth and sleepy eyes, was reluctant at first until it dawned on her—“Is that the place with the toys?”  Then she was totally game. Cool. Mama and daughter will go in together. Dad can wait in the car.
My agenda was to just browse. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular and really had no business buying anything that we don’t need (which is easy to do at the Christmas Tree Shoppe.) I didn’t need to go in the first place, but there is just something about that place that draws me in. “Don’t you just love a bargain?” Why, yes, I do.
Well, the Christmas Tree Shoppe on a Saturday in the fall is apparently the place to be… or not to be. I found myself being jerked, pushed, and elbowed. So much for browsing—I couldn’t stay in one spot for too long because of the never ending flow of traffic and the murmured “excuse me’s” down each aisle.
Lila was in rare form. She had the uncontrollable urge to touch and look at everything. “Mom! Wait! I want that! And I want that! Look here! Go there!” and the dreaded “Can you buy me that?!” 
Lila had managed to grab a few things that kept her somewhat occupied as I finished looking around. I had snagged a couple good deals, items I figured I would need for Lila’s big Halloween bash next weekend. Of course, when I went to check out I realized there was no express line in sight. Every line looked like it was miles long. It suddenly felt like they had cranked up the heat in the store. Nothing is worse than having just a handful of items and being behind several customers with full carts and a cashier in need of a price check. UGH!
Lila was clamoring on about something she wanted and I was desperately scoping out the front of store for the fastest moving line and exit. After an eternity, it was finally my turn and my mission was to check out as quickly as possible. As I placed my items on counter, Lila proceeded to do the same—a few cheaply made toys that would inevitably wind up at the bottom of her toy box and a high-fructose-corn-syrup-artificially-flavored candy thing.
“No. Lila, you don’t need that stuff. You can pick ONE thing.”
Lila was NOT happy. The whining and beginning signs of a temper tantrum quickly ensued. And I could feel my temper rising just as quickly as I tried to focus and remember the pin number for my debit card.
“Lila! Please! I can’t even think straight. I said NO.”
And then came the tears and the cool skeleton face paint started to smudge.
In my own frustration, I failed to realize how Lila might be feeling at that moment. She was in that crowded store too. She waited in a long line and felt the relief and excitement when it was our turn to check out. Only, she was told, “no.” In hindsight, I get it. In the moment, I was annoyed, frustrated… mad!
Of course, trying to get a crying, unhappy four-year-old out of a shopping cart is nearly impossible. A kind, empathetic mama took pity on me and held the cart steady. Lila lost a boot as I pulled her out. “MY BOOT!!!!!” More crying... my head started pounding.
My husband, cool and calm, innocently inquired “What happened?”
“Nothing.” I responded sharply. (Nothing I thought was worth rehashing.)
He insisted, “Tell me what happened!”
After a little back and forth, this is when the brief, yet memorable episode of “mom gone wild” happened. I snapped. I snapped at him. I snapped at Lila. Suddenly, I was the child and I wanted to go home!
At the time, I felt somewhat justified. Afterwards, I felt horrible and totally disgusted at myself. This is not how I planned for our weekend to turn out. A picture perfect family memory had turned into one of those traumatic childhood moments (when mom totally loses it) that I vowed I would never cause.
Shortly after we all calmed down, apologies were made and hugs and kisses were given.  This is one of those moments that I desparately want to forget and more importantly pray that Lila will forget. As I recognize my need to develop more patience and the ability to carefully pick my battles, the lesson learned here (for me) is that we are all human. We make mistakes. But we also make up. We admit our fault. And it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other.

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