I made the mistake of going out in public alone with two children. I thought it would be fun to take my 8 year old niece and my 3 year old son to the Halloween store. We’d get out of the house, laugh at monsters, she’d get a goodie and my kid would finally get his costume. I can conveniently blame my stroke for the fact I can’t create a homemade costume for my son, but the truth is I wasn’t terribly crafty pre-stroke either. I also have a black belt in procrastination. Last year he was happy to run up and down the aisles, screeching and giggling past the zombies and werewolves. I figured this year would be the same, which is why I knew I couldn’t take him alone. So you see, enlisting the help of an 8 year old kid is pure genius on my part!
My niece is an awesome kid. If I ask her for help, she helps. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was that we were in public…with a toddler. Toddlers are unpredictable. It’s easy to kid yourself into thinking that two identical scenarios will play out the same way. A year is an eternity, yet I was somehow convinced he’d be squealing with joy like last year. My son proudly held my niece’s hand, much like a stalker whose prey just smiled at them at a book signing, and stepped into the store. We were greeted by a crowd of zombie babies. I saw my son’s face go from glee to “what the ever loving fuck!” He let go of my niece’s hand and tried to scurry up my leg like a rabid monkey.
We laughed and pointed at the zombie babies to show him that they’re fake and really quite funny. He smiled but would not let me put him down. Here I am, disabled mom with two kids and an agenda, and I can’t take a step because I’m not sure my body can. Oh yeah, I was also holding my cane. My left hand is the only one that can use my cane, as my right side is too weak and uncoordinated. My left arm is also the only one that can hold my son. Great. Fantastic.
|Halloween 2010. OK so he's seen those babies before. Clearly he loved them the 1st time.|
I did what any mom would do. I handed my cane to my niece, tucked both my arms under my son’s butt in a tight embrace, and waddled with him over to the toddler section. I’ll be damned if I was going to get all the way to the store and not check out the costumes.
I was afraid my arms would fall off, or worse that I would fall, so I had to put him down. That lasted about 10 seconds. The teenagers in the store weren’t helping, running around with bloody masks and hitting the buttons on every screaming, freaky ghoulish noise-making prop in the place. The vision I had of giggles, costumes and tasty treats quickly faded into reality. Well not faded, more like popped me in the face revealing the truth of what we were: a very bored tween who was perfectly happy draped over my couch watching the Disney channel before her crippled aunt opened her big mouth about how fun the Halloween store would be; a scared shitless toddler who was frightened into suddenly forgetting how to walk and wondering who’s sick idea this was (oh yeah, it was mommy’s); and an extremely frustrated, out-of-breath mom who’s kicking herself for being so stupid and also quite pissed off at the shitty selection of costumes for little boys. I mean seriously! No wonder my boy begged us to just let him be Veruca Salt. Girls have all the cool dress-up shit.
I think we lasted about 15 minutes in the store. When we got home, I let them eat whatever junk food they wanted and ordered my son a costume online. Sucky McSuckerson, that’s my name! Disappointing children is my game!
|Another pic not taken that day. It's not the first time they've been given sugar as a consolation.|
This is usually the part where I share what this experience taught me. I wish I could. But you see, I didn’t learn shit that I didn’t already know. I know I can’t go in public with my kid without another adult. It sucks. It totally fucking sucks. I suppose it’s good that I tried. I have to be reminded sometimes of my limitations. I’ve been so empowered by the things I’ve overcome that I sometimes forget there are things that I won’t. I am not a pessimist. I’m a realist. And when the line between the two becomes too blurry, you need to put yourself out there until the line becomes clear again. Holy crap. I think I just discovered that disappointment can be healthy. Tada! There you go. That’s what I learned.