I know I usually only report on the epic parenting fails, because there are so many to choose from. Yesterday we went shopping for sports equipment. While this is usually a “daddy” type activity that causes me to look at my watch with consternation and declare “Oh can I go get a pedicure, my toes look awful” when all I’m really going to do is stay in the house in the filthy T-shirt I slept in and write. Nevertheless I volunteered for Sports’ Authority duty because baby daddy has been waking up daily between 5:30 a.m. and 6, while I sleep to the gloriously decadent hour of 7:08. He was started to look a little peaked, and at 53 peaked crosses the line from “slightly craggy” to “those kids are going to put him in the grave and I’m not sure we’ll still have health insurance.”
So off we set in the Chevy Crack-Ho, as I affectionately call the rental I am currently armored in. Until the insurance money comes in for the Prius I am resigned to the fact that I am going to ruin the environment. I’m starting to feel like a real consuming American, y’all. I may even try fluoride in my toothpaste, ye haw…
I admit the car has come in very handy because last week I had to transport the smaller, blacker, yappier dog to get his balls chopped. I was really hoping Mordecai would come back calmer, and less aggressive (it certainly worked on my husband.) His body is small but his crate is Lila’s, as he grew out of his more appropriately sized crate. Thank G-d for the CrackHo, because I was able to fit the crate with the puppy and the numerous other children, dogs and appendages I have somehow found myself responsible for. Unfortunately when I brought the children to pick up Mordy a few days later, the first thing he did was rush at me in hysteria and scratch my face while wearing a gigantic plastic cone; apparently he had to be stopped from licking the wound where his balls used to be (wouldn’t you?)
I was lucky enough to be able to choose to leave him boarding at the vet’s until the cone came off ($25 a day for my sanity) until I could be sure that assorted dogs and children would not rip out his stitches and with it the remainder of my shredded nerve endings. So that was Parenting Pass Number one: recognizing that I was not going to manage a recovering puppy as well as everything else. Big tick in the Realistic Appraisal of Own Circumstances box, even though the older child reacted to the news that the dog would be away three more days by lying on the ground in the parking lot, sobbing that he hated his life. (Can’t think why anyone would ever call Social Services on us?)
This passed, and we were all relatively sane heading to our errand – new sneakers, new basketballs and perhaps popping into Barnes and Horrible for some books. They seemed to have forgotten we even had another dog by this point, and were both fawning over the Labradoodle, that was squished in next to the crate, because I’m not taking that fucking thing out if I need it again in three days. Parenting Pass Three: Avoidance of Unnecessary Physical Labor, tick.
We get to the strip mall in Thousand Oaks, California (which coincidentally looks just like every other strip mall in Phoenix, Arizona, Omaha Nebraska and Woonsocket, Rhode Island) and disembark from the ludicrously oversized Sports Utility All Terrain Vehicle to go shop at multi-national conglomerate chain stores. See what I mean? Totally Yank-ofied.
I agree to go to Barnes and Kill-Small-Book-Stores first, as a concession to the kids’ good behavior and since there is no sign on the front that says that dogs are not allowed in, I just walk in with Lila like no one is going to notice. The kids protest loudly, but I insist that it’s perfectly fine, no one will see the gigantic white Labradoodle at our side if we don’t say anything. We get halfway to the store, before we’re stopped by a kindly sales associate, who gently lets us know that dogs are not allowed in the store.
“Oh, there are no signs,” I smile, feigning something beyond ignorance, more towards mental retardation.
“Yes, but we have a café so… unless it’s a service dog.”
And as she’s saying this to me, I notice that one of the customers, a bottle-black haired, baboon-lipped bitch who hasn’t been laid since the Nixon administration, is pointing accusingly at my precious animal (technically also a bitch.) I sneer at her and then glance back to see said precious animal taking a gigantic dump on the floor at Barnes and Noble.
“I’m so sorry,” I supply, “She’s a bit traumatized being away from the other dog, he just got ‘done.’” This as I back away leaving my children staring at me in familiar familial disappointment. “I’ll be right back to clean that up,” I chirp, “Right after I leave the dog outside.” (Parenting Pass Number Four: Do Not Panic, Even In The Face Of Rude Bitches, Traumatized Offspring And Large Piles Of Excrement.)
After everything is wiped away (I carry lavender scented spray alcohol) and smoothed over, I ignore the bitchy customer still staring poison blow-darts at me to usher my beautiful children outside, to put the dog back in the car and head to the sporting goods store. This happens against their vehement protests that they want to stay there and wait for me and not walk through the parking lot again (Pass Number Five: I’m In Charge Motherfuckers, check.)
This is when my younger, larger and more diabolical son, starts to bounce his current basketball in the parking lot, where it promptly rolls away practically under the wheels of a Volvo. He stops intelligently (my brilliant sons!) and waits for the Volvo to stop, before running and getting the ball and yelling, “Sorry.”
“Good job on safety,” I commend him, “But no more bouncing the ball in the parking lot.”
He continues to bounce.
“I said “No More,”” I repeat. He bounces as if I do not exist or if I do, I have no relation to him.
“If you bounce that one more time, you’re not getting a new basketball,” I say firmly.
That gets his attention. “Okay,” says the little wise ass, “How about if I do this?” and he throws the ball lightly in the air and catches it.
“NO, you may not do that.”
The next part happens in slow motion, Samson looks directly at me and throws the ball into the air and catches it, literally daring me to hold the line.
“That’s it, no basketball.”
For the second time in two days, a child of mine lies down and cries in a parking lot. He lies down crying as I buy his sneakers, he whines and makes cute faces and extorts and says he didn’t know and it isn’t fair. He tells me that I’m mean and that he hates me. I do not budge. No basketball (you little spoilt shit.)
“Can I come back and get one tomorrow?”
“Maybe,” I say, “We’ll see about your behavior.”