greg and I are those eccentric hipster types in our early thirties to attend events entitled things like the “conservation celebration” with our three young kids. I dunno if this makes us really hip or really weird. or hip to be weird. who knows?
there was free food and some speakers, guided tours of the property owned by the organization (the SMLC if you’re interested: an organization that Greg has dabbled with being active in for a few years now). and there were horse back rides and a petting farm.
my kids instantly gravitated toward the petting farm, of course, which was fine and good because greg was actually supposed to be leading one of the property tours which is why we were all the way out in superior township on a Saturday afternoon in the first place. so he snuck off and waved me goodbye while the kids were semi-pre-occupied with the animals. that was when my nerves set in.
I’m ok at the park with three kids alone. but that’s about it. I need to be some place where other parents are so that when the yelling starts, it’s nothing they haven’t heard before. and we need to be outside.
well, the outside part was a check, but as for the other parents part, everyone around seemed to be more of the middle-aged persuasion either with grown kids or void of kids altogether. everyone was quietly gathered in little groups making pleasant conversation. in other words: not our kind of crowd. I looked at the kids and thought, though, that right then things were ok and as long as I kept them in this happy state, we could potentially make it until greg was finished with his walk with no problems, no scene. potentially.
but they had already worked their way through the tiny piglets, had petted the goat, admired the cow, and were starting to look antsy and as far as I could tell, there was nothing else “for kids” in the rest of the scene.
that’s when ruth and joel both simultaneously, it seemed, began whining for food. ok, I thought, good, food is time killing, we’ll do food. we started walking back to the tented food area.
when we got there, there were a lot of people around and miles was getting fussy in the stroller so I snuck up and grabbed a couple of bags of chips and was about to go and find an indiscrete spot to sit and hunker down until greg came back when ruth started to unleash as only a type a first child can. she was asking for carrots, demanding them. she didn’t want chips, she wanted carrots and if I didn’t get her some RIGHT NOW, she was not going to be happy.
I felt the embarrassment set in but tried to smooth it over by saying quietly to her, “not right now, ruth, let’s go sit down, brother is getting fussy and I have some chips…”. “NO! I WANT CARROTS!”
I mean, at this point, I think you can tell we were drawing some looks but I still tried to smooth it over by talking calmly and quietly, trying to set the tone with my voice but failing as ruth kept getting louder and more angry. finally, as I was walking away, still pretending nothing was amiss, hoping to just sit down and have everything just calm down, magically, ruth ran up and punched me in the back.
I mean, she’s 6 and pretty scrawny in the first place, so it’s not like she hurt me. but the utter embarrassment I felt at being punched in public by my tiny ranting child was simply too much. “we’re leaving,” I said, “now.” she started to protest but I was firm and started packing everything of ours up as quickly as I could, carefully avoiding eye contact with every person around me. “let’s go.”
I stalked away, in utter disbelief at what had just occurred in public. I’m not sure I’ve ever looked worse before as a parent. I felt my rage at ruth probably equaling her own at the situation and I felt myself wanting to do the same thing she was doing: just unleashing on me. I wanted to unleash on her. and part of my mind was thinking, man she deserves it.
we couldn’t really LEAVE leave so I just walked as far away as I could and hid in some shady trees on the far end of a nearby building and plunked down in the grass and ate my damn chips after banishing ruth to the other side of a nearby evergreen.
and I fumed. oh, it took a good ten minutes of solid fuming for me to finally calm down. but calm down I finally did and let ruth come back over by where joel and miles and I were sitting and hugged her. that was when she hit me with, “I wasn’t really upset about the carrots, mom. I was upset because daddy left without me.”
and I thought, well, at least SOMEthing good came of this hideous public display. at least she was able to identify the REAL reason she was so upset, something many adults I know are still incapable of doing.
after I explained that she embarrassed me and she really can’t be acting like that in public and she should never, ever hit her mother, the person who gave her the gift of LIFE, I was really fine. i didn’t feel like joining back in the conservation celebration but i was totally calm and fine at that point. and actually i had a really good time sitting and watching ruth climb a nearby tree and joel play with the stroller while miles crawled through the grass.
just another example of how up and down parenting can be.