I had taken the kid shift after a morning baseball lesson (this whole co-parenting thing is working out swimmingly.) Invariably when the changeover happens, one or both kids gives me a little attitude, just a testing shot to see how far they’re going to be able to push it with the new parent on shift. It’s important when this happens to take the metaphorical reigns firmly, and show them who will be in charge for the duration. Fortunately my naturally controlling personality lends itself marvelously to this.
In this case, soon after I got there Samson muttered about me being stupid and unfortunately for him, the coach overheard him. And I promise this is relevant, but he is a rather no-nonsense black man. He turned to my son, grabbed his shoulders firmly and looked deep into those entitled green eyes. He shook him by the shoulders, not hard, but enough to get his attention.
“Don’t you ever, ever speak to your mom that way again.”
I wanted to kiss the coach. Gently, then with increasing pressure… but that’s another blog. What’s important is that someone put their hands on my child and I fully endorsed it, because said hands were not being abusive, merely firm and defending me. Yay! Not that I’m not a badass feminist that can’t fight my own battles, but still. I needed a surrogate daddy and there he was!
I then took the insolent twins to a bubble show, where a very funny man made giant and tiny bubbles punctuated with plenty of patter. He was really good. The kids were appropriately diverted and thrilled, especially once they both got to go on stage as volunteers. My kids – hams just like their mother.
We got ice cream, then adjourned to a nearby park to burn off the sugar. We met a dog, and I blabbered on to the parents as only a lonely somewhat single parent can. I told these strangers from Michigan we’d seen the bubble show, and that unfortunately the man had placed my child inside, but sadly he hadn’t floated away, ha ha. As always, making people laugh was like heroin to me, without the nasty throwing up part.
Next was the natural foods store where we ate a nutritious meal to counteract the ice cream (how lucky are these Western children anyway?) and we were just about to leave when, I realized I’d misplaced a kid; the older one to be exact.
“He was just here,” I muttered ineffectually. I asked the lovely check out lady to make an announcement. I thoughts he’d dig that, “Would David please come to the front register, David…”
But he was nowhere to be seen. And even though my intellectual mind knew that this was a relatively small space, and it wasn’t like he’d gotten himself locked into a grass-fed, free range meat freezer or anything, panic licked at my heels. Then engulfed me. This was a completely irrational, adrenaline soaked response that had nothing to do with intelligence.
In a moment, I was sweating, my hands were tingling, as I called my son’s name and realized how I would feel if he were really gone. All at once, my remark to the Michigan(ians?) Michagan(ites?) Michiganes? about hoping my son would float off in a bubble floated back to me in a thought bubble. My constant dry repartee, asking people to take my children when we were out in public, the endless bristling at the injustices of motherhood, how could I? Guilt flooded through me as I wondered what in the actual fuck was my problem anyway?
Just then, the kid showed up. He’d gone to the car ahead of us, and now he cried once he knew he’d worried me. I comforted him, “It’s okay, honey, I’m not mad.” But what he didn’t know as I clung to him, and inhaled the scent on the top of his head, was that the one who needed the most reassurance… was me.