Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Christmas Spirit

Today my dear husband woke up sicker than a dog. We don't know why, exactly, but my guess is food poisoning from the restaurant his work Christmas lunch was at. He was guessing the flu, but he's had no fever and I think it moved in way too quickly, then moved on way too quickly, to be the flu. Regardless of the cause, he was quite ill this morning. After putting him back in bed, I decided it would be best if Sweetpea and I vacated the premises to give him a chance to rest. I had some more Christmas shopping to do anyway, and thought I might as well take her along for the ride. I also added my grocery list to the mix, and off we went to my favorite store to hate, Wal-Mart. Now I knew the place would be packed. I knew there would be angry, rude, intolerable Christmas shoppers everywhere, and that we were likely to spend three times longer in the store than we normally would. But, it had to get done and with no one to watch Sweetpea, it would have to get done together. Plus, I found myself to actually be in the right mood to be able to deal with all that nonsense, on top of whatever nonsense Sweetpea might cause on her own, which isn't so very often to begin with. So it was best for all to take advantage of that alone, if for no other reason.

I must admit that I feel I did well for the first, oh, two hours that we were in the store. Mom would be so proud. I was polite and remembered my manners, even when others didn't. I did not butt in line or step in front of anyone who was perusing a shelf without saying "excuse me" first. I did not stomp on any toes, shove anyone out of the way or roll my cart into their ankles or heels. (I wish I could say my politeness was revisited on me, but alas....) I did not yell at Sweetpea for dropping items out of the cart or for dawdling behind when she wanted to walk. I did not even yell at her for hanging off the side of the cart, her feet on the bottom rung, hands gripping the basket, back arched backward until she was looking at the Wal-Mart world upside down - regardless of how many times she came within millimeters of hitting her head on a shelf. I tried to remember the meaning of Christmas and feel the spirit of giving. And I managed to accomplish it...for a while.

It was when Sweetpea decided she wanted to push the basket herself, that things started to go downhill. She had become increasingly restless and crabby the longer we stayed in the store. And who can blame her, really? I can't imagine that much shopping is all that entertaining to a 4-year-old. But I have been wrong before... She finally determined that she needed to be the one to push, and at my initial "no" began to throw what I could tell would be an epic fit. Being already on the verge of fed up with all the socially inept Christmas shoppers, and not wanting to have to deal with their condescending stares that had "can't you shut that kid up?" written all over them, I gave in and let her push just to keep her quiet (even though I know very well what a really bad thing giving in is to do.)

It was all fine and good at first. There she was, her arms stretched above her head, hands on the handle, feet way out behind her until she was nearly parallel to the floor pushing the heavy cart along with all her might, despite the fact that she couldn't see where she was pushing the cart to. I was there in front, holding on to the basket, guiding it along so she she didn't run over anybody (at great risk of bodily damage to myself) and gently helping pull the cart forward - without Sweetpea knowing I was helping, of course. Unfortunately it was not very long before she figured out she was getting some extra help. Unbeknown to me, at one of our numerous stops in the aisles, she had actually stopped pushing the cart several feet before I stopped pulling. This resulted in the dragging of her along, her shoes sliding along the floor, for those last few feet before the stop. Instead of her normal reaction of yelling for me to stop that, she found it fun to be drug along behind the cart. When the cart started to seem exceptionally and inexplicably heavy all of a sudden, I discovered her little skating act. Apparently she was even going so far as to hold one leg out behind her, either straight or curved upward toward her head like a figure skater would do, as I pulled her skating along the floor on one foot. It occurred to me that just maybe this was the cause of the snickers and humorous stares I had been receiving from fellow shoppers for at least two aisles. I finally yelled. Unfortunately. At first I just told her to stop. After the third time of telling her, I yelled at her to stop. She made the mistake of pushing me one skate too far.

When I discovered her doing it again, I picked her up and practically tossed her into the basket of the cart, butt first, stating at the top of my lungs that "that is IT! You are not pushing any more, and I think you may have just lost your walking privileges PERMANENTLY!" This of course brought on a round of whining that she was sorry and wouldn't do it again, which did absolutely nothing to convince me of the fact. Unfortunately it wasn't until after I had launched her into the cart that I discovered I had dropped her on the dozen eggs sitting on top of the pile of goods to be purchased. We were extremely lucky to find that none of the eggs had broken, (though I still have no idea how we managed that), but I knew she could not stay there or they would get broken. So I moved her to the child seat at the front of the cart. This changed the whining to an all out fit complete with tears, devastated looks, demands to be let down, pleading to ride in the basket and many pathetic "I'm so sorry mom, I'll be good" type statements that only caused me more anger. As I predicted, it was a fit of epic proportions, lasting the remaining 45 minutes we were in the store. By that time I didn't care what the other shoppers thought of me, and decided they were the ones that chose to go out shopping under these conditions, so they brought the trouble of listening to a screaming, crying child through the whole store on themselves. The gloves were off, and it was on.

We finally made it to the checkout line, Sweetpea still crying as if she had just started, and proceeded to wait the 15 minutes it took to get checked out. I think that might have been a store speed record for checkout, by the way, but I have yet to verify that with Guinness. After a few minutes of standing, I noticed the family in line in front of us. It was not a large family: Dad, Mom and two kids, the oldest being probably 11 or so. I did not notice them because they were not anything special or unusual in any way. I didn't even pay any attention to what they were buying. I noticed them because the mom was continually turning around and looking our direction. After several looks cast our way, I started to pay attention. I realized, very shortly, the she was looking directly at Sweetpea - and glaring! She had this look on her face of absolute total disgust and anger every time she looked at my daughter, a look that said at the very least she wanted this child to disappear and at the most that she'd love to beat the child herself. She did not cast her looks toward me, only toward Sweetpea. You'd think that maybe something like this would make me embarrassed at Sweetpea's behavior. Or maybe make me feel like I was a bad mom who couldn't control her own child. Instead it just made me horrendously angry. I couldn't imagine that a woman with two young children has never experienced a fit before, especially at an age such as Sweetpea is at. I certainly couldn't imagine how she thought she had the right to judge me or my daughter for such a fit. Children throw fits, and that's all there is to it. I was seething over the nerve of this woman who had not spoken a single word to me, but yet wore everything she was thinking on her face.

I stood there, staring right back at her, never taking my eyes off of her even when she was not looking our direction. I wanted to make certain that when she finally did look at me, she could read every thought on my face as clearly as I could read hers. I especially hoped she could read "don't mess with my child". I wanted that perfectly clear. Finally the time came when she turned another disgusted look toward Sweetpea, and misjudged the aim of her gaze. She turned to find herself eye-to-eye with me, and I made no bones of letting her know everything I was thinking with my look. It was obvious by how quickly the look on her face changed to something akin to fear, that she understood everything I had intended her to. She never looked at us again, the rest of the time we were in line behind her family. Well Merry frickin Christmas to you too, lady.

After leaving, I had to call my sister and tell her I just about kicked some lady's ass in Wal-Mart. I told her the story, and she said she'd have helped me. So I had to give her crap about why she wasn't there to back me up. She countered with reminding me that I've not been there to back her up a few times, either, and wondered why it is we keep trying to get into fights in Wal-Mart - which, of course, is a whole other story. Thankfully the conversation picked up my spirits, and I decided Sweetpea and I could use a little Christmas fun. We had already made gingerbread men, though they have never quite made it to the decorated stage:

And decorating the house had already been done. I admit, I may have gone overboard, since I had the room this year to not only display all of my Christmas Bear collection along with the tree, but also my newly-acquired Christmas Village handed down by my mother-in-law:

So I thought the next best thing would be to do our nails - Christmas style, of course! What did I choose? Candy cane, of course!
Unfortunately Sweetpea could not hold still long enough for me to get a shot of hers, but she had snowflakes on her beautiful little girl press-on nails. It was just what the two of us needed to raise our Christmas spirits!

1 comment:

Iguana Montana said...

I've used that look before. I've even used it in Church (which can have a really devastating effect, let me tell you), although not on a regular member. It was someone visiting the meeting who got a little ticked off at my one year old climbing around. Apparently it was too distracting for them.
I wonder if that look is something all parents develop, or if it's something we attorneys develop through three years of grueling post-graduate schooling? I imagine using that look during cross-examination could be brutal.