Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Long Game

Tonight's cocktail is the Lemon Drop I made a couple of weekends ago. There was a crazy sale on cooked lobsters at my grocery store, so while drinking the cocktail, I made lobster scampi with lots of garlic, lemon, and butter, and nom nom nom nom .....

Here's a story that *might* establish for the record that I'm a horrible person, but I think it also captures what it's like to start realizing your kid might be differently wired than his or her peers. It's from the wayback machine, when Tweak was not quite three.

Of course, all toddlers are psycho, but Tweak took it to a different level, to the point where his sensory issues turned simple daily activities such as leaving the house into exhausting ordeals. Things that set him off included most kid movies, ants, seatbelts, shirts with buttons, most foods, any sudden noises, and haircuts. I still have PTSD about haircuts.

Anyway, one day, Tweak was invited to a fire station birthday party. Show me a suburban mom of small children, and I will show you a woman who, from the birthday party circuit, knows the layout of at least one local fire station and the names of the hot firefighters. I hadn't spoken to a live adult in several days, Tweak was interested in shiny trucks, and Tink was always up for a party, so it seemed like there would be something for everyone.

Because I'm an idiot, I forgot about the sirens. And I didn't know one of the firefighters would put on all the safety gear to show the kids what it looked like. So suddenly Hot Firefighter Jake was in full protective gear with a gas mask and air tank, breathing like Darth Vader, at which point the call siren went off. While the other kids ran to the window to watch the trucks pull out, Tweak flung himself on the floor, sobbing, "Dat ... man ... SCARE me! NO fireman! Too LOUD!!!! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!" Meanwhile, Tink was licking cake frosting from a chair leg. It was not from the current birthday party's cake.

I understand why they do the demo with the safety gear. When you see the firefighters all tricked out, they look like space aliens. They want the kids to know that when they see people dressed in all that gear during a fire, those people are there to help, so the kids shouldn't run away or hide. Tweak didn't give a rat's ass about that. He knew the truth: Hot Firefighter Jake was there to eat his soul.

After the trucks pulled out and Hot Firefighter Jake took off his gear (without gyrating at all, sadly), Tweak calmed down a bit. The birthday mom (who I genuinely do like, so none of this is a swipe at her), in lieu of gifts, had asked everyone to bring a wrapped children's book. We sat the kids in a circle and put the books in the middle, at which point the birthday mom told the kids to pick a package apiece, which prompted the kids to go Thunderdome. Tweak was still shaken, so I helped him secure a shiny package that wasn't buried in the toddler scrum, hoping it would distract him. It worked, and he sat down, beaming. Then, the birthday mom told each kid to pass his or her package to the right.

The kid to the left of us had been slow on the draw, and had gotten stuck pouting over the only unwrapped book. Let's note that even I managed to follow all the instructions for this activity, which is saying something. To make things worse, the book in question was "Are You My Mother?" Not only did we already have this book, but Tweak hated it. The bird was a bird. Obviously it was not a damned cow, or a dog, or, for the love of God, a bulldozer. Tweak had no patience for this idiot hatchling.

The other children tore into their packages, with smiles all around, except for Tweak. I looked at him and realized it was like one of those moments in the movies where the detonator counter on a bomb was ticking down at an alarming rate, and I had no idea whether to cut the blue wire or the red wire. I quickly gathered our stuff said goodbye to the birthday mom. Now, I know some people would say I should've used it as a way of teaching Tweak to roll with the punches, but good luck dropping that logic bomb on a tantruming 3 year old. Sometimes it's just best to flee the scene before things get ugly.

In my karmic defense for what's to come, a few months after this birthday party, Tweak brought home his very first case of head lice, which he also gave to Tink. The previous day, the birthday boy and his brother were both dropped off at preschool with buzz cuts. I was the only one who said anything to the school. You do the math.

Beware the buzz cut.
Anyway, fast forward one year. Same birthday kid, different venue. The birthday mom had the same book concept, but with a big laundry bag where we were all to put our books so that the kids could do a blind grab-bag type drawing later, thus avoiding a repeat of Lord of the Flies, Junior Edition. I brought, of course, "Are You My Mother," which I'd kept in mint condition on a top closet shelf for future re-gifting, and don't you dare judge me. Into the bag it went. After the activities and cake, it was time for the books! Yay! The birthday boy went first. And what, in the delicious name of irony, did he draw from the bag?

Oh, yes.
I am deeply, profoundly ashamed by how happy this made me. Even worse, I watched with glee as the birthday boy's face crumpled, he dropped to the floor and threw a fit, and his mom, humiliated, tried to salvage the situation. Honestly, it was just so nice to know I'm not the only one who has to deal with that shizznit sometimes. So while it's highly likely that I'm going to hell, sometimes you just have to play the long game.


  1. This is probably one of the best, funniest posts I have ever read! The whole part about not knowing what wire to cut had me crying with laughter!! God I love karma.-Ashley

    1. Thanks! Of course, now the boy doesn't remember anything about his many toddler fears, and laughs when I tell him about them.


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