“That will be $5.66. Please pull around to the first window.”
I slowly coax my van forward in the pouring rain, fumbling in my purse to find cash. As the car moves, I instinctively turn the radio back up to catch the end of “Sister Golden Hair” by America, then almost immediately lower the volume, lest the teenage girl at the drive-thru window gets wind of my song choice and thinks to herself that it’s “typical” driving music for a lame mom in a minivan. It’s a weird phobia I have…of not wanting strangers to know too much about how I exist inside my car. Because the dirty exterior, scraped-up side mirrors, and “This Van Is Stacked” window sticker aren’t somehow as damaging to my cred as blaring “Sister Golden Hair.”
Handing over my cash, I feel raindrops from the top of my car drip onto my arm, soaking through my sleeve and immediately chilling my skin. The cashier gives me my change, and I clumsily drop the two of the coins onto the pavement below, one of them being a quarter. Fantastic. It has been one of those days – the kind of day I know better than to grumble about aloud, because it could be worse. But it certainly hasn’t been great either, and it doesn’t seem to want to let up. Like this rain. I mean, I am semi-voluntarily eating at McDonald’s without kids, if that is any indication of my mood. What mother, when flying solo, elects the home of the Happy Meal as the nourishment that will make her feel good about herself and her choices that day? This usually happens only when few other options exist, as is my case at the moment.
It should be illegal for the Icee machine at Target to ever, ever be broken.
I usually like to make my trips to “the mecca” solo, but when I do have to bring a kid or two along, $1.69 + tax is a small price to pay to insure I can give Target my full shopping attention, as it rightfully deserves.
So you can imagine my terror when I arrived at the snack counter today, with Michael in tow, and ordered a medium ICEE (a medium is a nice compromise between the completely unnecessary sugar spaz that comes with a large, and the decreased browsing time that a small buys), only to have my request met with the words, “The ICEE machine is brrrrooooookeeeeeennnn.” (I write it that way to denote how the word sounded to me at the moment…like in the movies when everything happens in slow-mo, and you hear something in that deep, drawn-out voice that signals catastrophe.)
“We have popcorn.” Thanks, but that doesn’t help me whatsoever. What good is popcorn when all it will do is make Michael thirsty, prompting him to ask for an ICEE? Does Mr. Snack Counter Man not foresee this vicious cycle?
I simply tell him, “Thanks anyway,” as I walk away. I break the news to Michael, which of course results in a pitiful, whimpering cry. And I realize there will be no moments of self-actualization or nirvana on this particular Target trip.
So while we are on the subject, here are a few other things that I think should be illegal in order to make parents’ lives a lot easier:
1. Other parents announcing in public that they are taking their kids to McDonald’s. Every parenting handbook should warn against committing this act of terrorism on fellow parents. It’s just not a nice thing to do to those who have children within earshot of that announcement. Any parent who breaks this rule should be subject to a punishment that lasts as long as the endless whining that results from my children overhearing that OTHER kids get to go to McDonald’s, but THEIR mom hates them and gives them peanut butter for the fourth time this week.
2. Churches with no cry rooms. It may be the House of the Lord, but surely having no cry room is the Devil’s doing. It’s hard enough to receive God’s Word when you have a two-year-old asking for Cheerios and pointing out that there are no pictures in the hymnals, but it’s near impossible when you have the added stares of people wondering why you can’t control your children. Yes, you are justified in your indignation Ms. Judgey McJudgepants…it is completely acceptable to expect a toddler to sit quietly still for forty-five minutes to an hour. I’m sure all of YOUR children did in the good old days. Thankfully, our church does have a cry room, but I have been to my fair share of ones that didn’t. And it is just not fun. In the worst cases, I honestly wondered what was the point of me even being there. In fact, do you want to know how important I think cry rooms are? One of the reasons we actually chose to join the parish we did was because it had a more welcoming cry room than the other nearby parish. It may sound a little shallow, but I can tell you I have had mostly pleasant church experiences. Nothing frees you up to get closer to God than not having to worry when your kid decides to sing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle song instead of “On Eagle’s Wings.”
3. Giving Fuse Beads as a birthday present. If you don’t know what Fuse Beads are, consider yourself lucky. While in theory they are a mild-mannered craft project, in reality they are minuscule menaces that are impossible for children without fully developed dexterity to handle, which inevitably end up all over your floor. Or in our case, the entire bucket is found during a Halloween party and the contents dumped all throughout the basement. However, I am ashamed to admit, I just broke this rule. But in my defense, I didn’t do it on purpose. My husband likes to find toys on sale and buy up a couple to have on hand for whenever one of the kids is invited to a birthday party. Grace had a party to go to today, and I didn’t worry about finding a gift because I knew we had our stockpile. Well, when I went to get the gift (of course, right before we had to leave for the party) I found that all I had to choose from was one lonely box of Fuse Beads. When Kurt saw what I had, he said, “I thought you liked Abby’s mom.” I replied that I did. “Then WHY are you giving Abby Fuse Beads?” I did apologize to Abby’s mom when I dropped off Grace…luckily she’s a laid-back lady and is used to having Fuse Beads dotting her floors. But I know my parental karmic payback is coming.
Now let’s commiserate…feel free to comment about other things you feel should be made illegal. I know this list can be much, much longer…