By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mother
Yesterday afternoon I ran out the front door on my way to a holiday event — barefoot. My black high heels were still in the car from the last work thing I’d attended. I’d slipped them off in the car in favor of a cushy pair.
When I stuck my right foot into the shoe I could feel something weird near my big toe. Upon further examination, I saw that it was a petrified French fry. I looked around my car and saw exactly how a greasy, hardened French fry could end up in my shoe. You see, it’s a little harried around here right now and we’re scarfing down way too many take-out meals. When you pull up to a drive-through and have to throw away three used cups to make room for the next one, you’re eating out way too freaking much. At least I know I’m not alone. Fast-food restaurants never used to have trash cans near the drive-through window, but now they all do. Because people are practically living out of their cars!
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, I’m busy. I know, I know, who isn’t, right? We busy ourselves to death. Right now I’m really paying for it with the kid. She has been a bit, er, argumentative lately. Yes, I know she’s at an age where she’s learning waaaay too many smarty pants phrases at school (“Uh, yeah, mom, I get it”), but she’s really over the top lately. The other night as we drove home from a fun birthday party she got mad because I said no when she asked to go to Red Robin for dinner. I wanted to scream at her about being ungrateful, how she just got finished with a birthday party, for gosh sakes, not to mention all the other fun things we’d done over the weekend, but I resisted the urge and gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.
When she started kicking the back of the seat in a tantrum reminiscent of her 2-year-old self, I broke. Through clenched teeth, I hissed: “If you say another word about Red Robin or say another rude thing to me, or kick the seat, or yell, or whine (you gotta be specific, what with all the loopholes this kind of ultimatum can have) you will go straight to time out when we get home and stay there for a very, very, very long time.” And then I added, because Lord knows we sometimes fail to follow through, “And I mean it!”
Within seconds she was making sounds which would definitely not qualify her for a loophole. I didn’t say a word. When I stopped the car at home, I got out to escort her to her bedroom. To prevent that, she transformed into a living boulder and clung to her booster seat. It took all my strength (she’s 50-something pounds and I’m really short) but I hauled her screaming Linda B Blair self out of the car and into her room. My blood pressure was so high I thought I might have a stroke any minute. She stayed in her room (after the half-drag, half-carry it took to get her there) and I took deep breaths in the kitchen. When my husband made a move to go into the room, I halted him with a scathing look that said, “I started this, I’ll finish it.”
At one point, she yelled out, “You don’t care one thing about me, mother! Not one teeny tiny bit!” I recall the transition from using the words mom and mama to MOTHER when I was a teenager.
In the end I asked my husband to go in to talk to her. After he chatted with her for a long time she came out, contrite, to apologize. I still felt quite disgruntled, but said “Of course” when she asked if I would forgive her. Good example and all that.
Understatement of the year: Sometimes this mothering thing is just … hard.