Todd and I were watching a video of Jenna crawling last night. Todd’s comment was “Aww. That’s when she was sweet.” And we laughed. Please don’t pity her for the statements we make. They are completely honest. But she is still completely adored. In those early days, Jenna was such a happy, perfect little angel. I mean perfect. Quiet. Sweet. Smiley. Compliant. Non-Fussy. Totally unopinionated. Laid back.
Then she put shoes on and walked away from all of that.
We still love her dearly. And because she can still work us like marionettes and can shake her big Chaka Khan hair to reinforce her point, she gets by with what no previous child in the family has. Just yesterday, I ran across an incident that occurred while she was still in her Perfection Phase. Unfortunately for her, I was not in that phase. Hence, the following.
I knew the day would come. I knew The Shopping Fiasco was coming. It’s bound to happen if you cross the threshold into the land of Four Babies.
It was a quick stop at CVS. A quick, less-than-five-items stop. Faces were beaming. Tiny little voices escaped from little mouths like the air flying from a tightly-wound balloon. We were happy. SisterTinklePants had been fed, so she was plump and content. But the stop at CVS was necessary in order for her to be plump and content at the next feeding. We were out of formula. Armed with two coupons and good attitudes, we held hands and crossed the parking lot. 4 items, one old lady from church, and 45 minutes later, we were standing in line to check out. SisterTinklePantswas doing her best Mona Lisa, as usual, strapped in her seat and perched on the shopping cart. Mamasboy and Beloved were doing their thing as only they can. They remind me of what I have heard said of twins. They share a language and private jokes and interests like none of my other sibling combos. It is both endearing and a tad frightening.
As the cashier finished scanning my items, I very innocently handed her an Enfamil coupon, because STP’s allergen-free formula costs about the same as a kidney transplant. The moment I passed those coupons across the counter is when things took a subtle, but noticeable, turn for the worse. I was zoning. The cashier was trying to figure out why the coupon wasn’t working. Mamasboy and Beloved were getting more and more funny to each other.
I should’ve zoomed in on that one.
But I didn’t.
Because I was zoning.
And as has been my custom at some very crucial moments in life, what finally brought me out of the stupor I was in was the sound of an intense crash directly behind me. When I turned around to see what had happened, I reacted like a person submerged in wax. Is that the shopping cart I was just pushing? Are those my children on the floor? Is that THE BABY on the floor? Is Mamasboy underneath the cart? Did they take out an entire kiosk of energy bars? The scene was horrifying. Utter carnage.
I guess I must have made some improvements in my tendency to instantly react in irritation, because I did manage to set STP’s seat upright, observe that–as is her custom–she wasn’t going to cry, and ask Mamasboy, “Are you okay?” A few months ago, I’m quite certain the first question would have been “What were you thinking?” I didn’t have to ask what he was thinking, because it was painfully evident that none of us had been doing any intentional thinking. I would almost wager an arm that all the people in line behind us had some thoughts, though.
So STP was on her side, safe and happy and stoic, still strapped snugly in her car seat. Beloved was inside the shopping cart completely traumatized. Mamasboy was under the cart, traumatized, horrified, frightened, and overwrought with guilt.
Two of the three were screaming.
The two screamers were now in my arms.
The coupon still wasn’t working.
And the line behind us was stacking up.
From this point forward, it was my job to put out fires. Convince Mamasboy that it was okay (“I didn’t mean to, Mama” he said as he buried his sobbing face in my leg). Console Beloved and try with mighty power to get her to cry slightly more quietly. (Sometimes all you can hope for is to lower the volume.) Assure the cashier that I no longer cared about the price of the formula or the value of a coupon (as it turns out, she gave me an extra $5 off after having already given me $5 off so I ended up saving more than I intended…). Pick up the energy bars that were laying around us like witnesses to the shameful negligence. And then get out, heads down, and back to the car without kicking or touching anything and without locking eyes with anyone taller than 45 inches.
I knew the day would come when that shopping cart finally went over. I guess I’m glad that, when it finally did, I didn’t yell at anyone. Even though all the people in line behind me probably wish I had.