Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Utter Breakdown

Saturday is the wedding day -- Ben's brother Zack and Beth are getting married.
We've had family in town for a week. And more will pour in tonight, tomorrow, and Friday.
A waterfall of family, really.

Silas and Eden are in cousin-heaven. We have all pledged our love to Disneyland. The rains predicted haven't come yet. The bride and groom have received some pans and towels.
Grandparents have doled out presents, sugar by the spoonfuls. It's vacation week, to say the least.

At noon, we had just come from the 99 cent store with the grandparents, cousins and Silas's very own dollar. I had watched his head spin with the decision making as he waffled between Lightning McQueen pens and scissors and a wall of candy. After some angst, he finally chose a bag of jelly beans. Then he, Eden and I went to the grocery store for detergent.

The collapse came when he spotted a box of cheerios with a toy car inside, and I told him we weren't going to get it.

Bright red face, alligator tears, hand-flapping hysteria, blood curdling screaming followed us through the store, down the aisles, through the check-out line (yes, there was a line). I felt my body temperature rise 10 degrees and started sweating. I made eye contact with every shopper and cashier who kept looking over with side glances laden with judgment and pity.

I bent down to reason with him a few times but the screaming only escalated. Eden stood by in a I've-disappeared daze. And FINALLY we paid. I grabbed Silas's wrist and he thrashed, still screaming, as I led him to the door. Eden stayed at the register. I managed my 4 bags and pulled his wrist until we were just outside (though with little relief because the doors were still open for all of the shoppers to hear us, and Eden was still wandering in a small circle inside the store).

I spoke sweetly. I spoke sternly. I tried sweetly again. I screamed. I roughly sat him on the ground. I went back and got little Eden out the door. The bags, Silas, and Eden were on the ground. Silas was half sitting and still screaming his head off. And Eden was standing by. A woman came over and asked if she could help. At her small kindness, tears sprang to my eyes, and I could only nod gratefully. She said she'd been in the same situation an hour ago in Target, which I didn't quite believe. She walked with us to the car and loaded my bags, while Silas screamed, Eden avoided eye contact and I fluctuated between near-laughter and near-sobbing.

The screaming didn't stop when the engine started. And didn't stop after a brief conversation of sanity. And didn't stop even as we got close to home. So finally I pulled over, feeling murderous with my own helplessness. I pulled Silas up front onto my lap, and he almost immediately calmed. We both breathed, a little. And then told each other and Eden we were sorry. I buckled him back in and handed him corn chips from the grocery bag each time I saw his lip start to quiver in the rear view mirror as he remembered the Cheerios car. And we made it home.

This afternoon, we snuggled up in Big Green Chair and finished reading Charlotte's Web. He was squirmy and had me pause a few times to show me how he could jump off the arm of the chair, but I could tell he loved nestling next to me and hearing my voice. A slow repair.

And then I read the second to last paragraph of the book, when Wilbur has grown older and wiser:

"Mr. Zuckerman took fine care of Wilbur all the rest of his days, and the pig was often visited by friends and admirers, for nobody ever forgot the year of his triumph and the miracle of the web. Life in the barn was very good -- night and day, winter and summer, spring and fall, dull days and bright days. It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything."

1 comment:

susanna said...

I love this post. For some reason, with children it seems great joy (wedding, family waterfall) is always followed by great despair (meltdown over cheap cereal cars). I have been there many times with my children. So glad to hear that Wilbur brought about redemption!