Today Molly, her son Julian, my kids and I all went further west in order to get some foggy, eerie Sequim-weather while we had some Mama-chat and jostled my iPod about in trying to avoid my children’s requests for the Starlight Vocal Band. First we visited the Dungeness Valley Creamery (which included a pickup of Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Trailhead cheese), then Nash’s Organic Produce (seven dollars bought loads of delicious greens, carrots, garlic…), decided last minute on a trip to the Olympic Game Farm (watching once-majestic beasts sit up and beg for stale white bread – but the kids loved it), finally ending up at the Buzz coffee shop for our home-packed lunch and treats afterwards.
Nels did not get his treat. Now first let me say this: I hate the word “spoiled” in reference to children, but let’s just say Nels is… ready for some tough love on a couple behavioral issues. Specifically, when it comes to taking Mama seriously (kind of a big one, eh?). “Nels, finish your sandwich so you can have ice cream,” I tell him. He smiles and fiddles with his food: “I don’t want ice cream!” he responds (lying) while pushing the remnants of my lovingly-made sandwich across the table. Wiggling his ass saucily and without remorse (Ralph calls our son’s booty his “cup-a-cakes” because you want to hold those tender cheeks in your palms). Rinse and repeat; I tell him he is not going to get ice cream if he doesn’t eat lunch, he says he doesn’t want ice cream. On about the third iteration I realize this is going to go badly for him, and I am sad, because for this child, I can’t be so hardhearted as to not let him have what other children have – nevertheless, that is clearly the right course of action. So I remove the lunch, he tumbles off the bench, happily exploring the coffee shop and confident than when ice cream is delivered, he will be a recipient.
The other children meet the Mamas’ standards of lunch ettiquette so we pick out ice cream varieties and pass out the cones. It dawns on Nels ice cream is served and he clambers back up on the seat. He waits, expectantly. I gently remind him he doesn’t qualify. He starts to bargain – he wants his ice cream now. Well, too late. He starts to bargain more loudly, panic rounding out his husky boy-voice. “Don’t yell at Mama or I will have to take you out to the car,” I respond calmly (yes, I know I should talk in first person). His sister shares a bite (lovely girl) but he can’t be satisfied. His eyes tear up, his hands dart towards nothingness, he cannot believe what is happening. He decides he is angry. He grabs a paper cup and taps it, almost lightly, looking at me with bewilderment. “I … Mama…” words cannot express. “Fucken!” he finally stutters, then: “I … don’t… LIKE … it!” I remove him from the table and carry him to the car. I am not mad at him and I don’t need to explain more about it. I tell him I’m sorry, and maybe next time. Back in the shop and we pack up our items to join Nels in the car, who is thoroughly bested and reminds us of this on our forty-five minute drive. Thank God it is not a screaming, howling tantrum but an occasional percussive ejaculation: “I want ice cream!” “I want to eat… my samwich!” and sad, sad, broken wail.
I don’t know why, but even though this is a minor incident, it makes me sad – and it makes me want to laugh. Mostly, it makes me love my little boy and how much fun it is for us to learn together, even when the lessons are hard for both of us.