Scenes From a Standoff
Sunday in the parking lot of the Grocery store. In the middle of a Minnesota Blizzard:
Me: “Maggie, you have to hold my hand”
Maggie: “Mommy! No! I don’t want you to holding my hand!”
Me: “Maggie, when there are cars, you have to hold Mommy’s hand.”
Maggie (screaming): “NO! I want to WALKING.
I tug her arms as she is walk-pulled to the car. I raise writhing wriggling child into car and hover her flailing limbs and torso over the car-seat.
Me: Losing patience. “Maggie, sit in your car seat!”
Maggie: (Writhing herself into a convex arch, screaming): “NO! I DON’T WANT TO SIT!!!”
Me: (Trying to press convex child hovering over car-seat into concave child sitting IN car-seat) Panting: “Sit” (pant) “DOWN”.
Continue to try in vain to press her into her seat using last resort parental manhandling techniques in an effort to pop convex child into concave “shape of car-seat” child. Desperately try to latch buckles over her abundant snow-pants as she wriggles out of control.
Maggie: red faced, crying real tears: “NO!! EEEEE-eeeeee!”
By now, only the neighborhood dogs can hear her pleas. They peek out of their respective windows, doors, and alleyways and wag their tails at me in sympathy.
Me: (Whimpering. Defeated by two year old): “Maggie…” press on her lap in one last ridiculous, halfhearted attempt to press child into car-seat. Wonder if anyone watching will call Child protective Services. Want. To. SCREAM. BAD. WORDS!
Stop. Sigh. Pant. Wonder how long this standoff will last. Wonder how long it will take loved ones to grow concerned and send out a search party for the missing parent and child horn-locked in epic four-day battle in grocery store parking lot. Pick child up and out of car. She crumples against me. Hug her face to mine. Feel warm tears on cold cheeks.
Me: “Maggie. What is wrong? You need to sit in the car-seat so I can buckle you in. You are behaving very badly and mommy is very. VERY. ANGRY.”
Maggie, rueful, goes limp and allows herself to be placed in car-seat. Drained, I weakly buckle her in, my arms trembling with fatigue, and shuffle slowly to the drivers seat.
Me: Sternly but calmly “Maggie, you are getting a time-out when you get home. You behaved VERY BADLY.”
Maggie: (with the most pathetically sad face ever seen by human eyes) “Mommy, make me feel better?”
Me: cringe with guilt, then straighten shoulders, and reinstate resolve. “I love you honey, but you are GETTING a time-out when we get home”.
Maggie miraculously recovers from the trauma of our altercation in approximately one nanosecond. She sings along to the song on the radio and bounces her head to the music.
We arrive home. I remove her from the car-seat and slog-lug her into the house.
Me: “Maggie, you’re getting a time out.”
Maggie: (cheerfully reeking of desperation) “But I’m MUCH BETTER now Mommy!” To prove this, she leans in and plants a large kiss on my cheek. “I’m sorry!” she rushes. “I love you mommy” she gushes. She leans in for a very enthusiastic hug.
I know when I am being worked.
Me: “I love you too. But you are still getting a time-out because you didn’t listen to mommy”.
Maggie: “b-b-but my s-s-snowpants! My mi-mi-mittens!”
I walk her to the time out spot and remove her snowpants, hat and mittens. She sobs and wails. I walk away, mildly alarmed by the intense satisfaction I feel. Is it vengeance? Is it pride? Am I pleased that I stuck to my guns, and that this tough love is good for her? All of the above.
Two minutes later:
Me: “Maggie, you got a time out because you didn’t listen, and didn’t’ cooperate when mommy needed to put you in your carseat. Tell Mommy you’re sorry.”
Maggie: (head lowered, she rushes in for a hug and mumbles) “sah-wee”.
We hug and she turns on her heel and bursts out cheerily “Can we play with my animals?”
I need a nap. Crumple into a ball on the floor. Assume fetal position.