I haven’t written anything in a long time. Partly because the projects jumping out at me from every nook and cranny of our house were starting to take a serious toll on my mental health, and partly because I went through a stretch where I just didn’t feel like I had anything to say. The Internet needs another person rambling on for no reason at all like I need my two-year-old to throw a cup of milk at the wall (yep, that happened yesterday). Messy walls and pointless ramblings. Not going to make anyone’s life better.
I had been working up a blog that I was getting ready to write about how there’s nothing helpful in the statement, “My kids never. . .” or “When my kids were little, I never . . .” because there’s no space for grace in a comment like that, and if by chance you or your kids HAVE . . ., it doesn’t do much for your parenting psyche. So that’s what I was, and am, working on. And then this morning happened.
Sam and I were at the grocery store for the baking supply sale. (wohoo! cheap flour! . . . I need to get out more!) He is very accustomed to getting a free cookie at the bakery counter. Like his Pavlovian response to seeing a grocery cart is, “Can I have a cookie?” Which, fine, whatever. Third kid. If having a frosted cookie at 9 a.m. is the difference between happy shopping and a half hour of screaming, I’m not going to die on that nutritional mountain. We brush his teeth, he drinks mostly water. I’m good with it.
Unfortunately, the baking sale grocery store doesn’t do kid cookies. They usually have some sort of sample, but it’s often some inferior donut hole or lemon poppyseed bread or something else that makes him think the world is conspiring against him and what is OBVIOUSLY his God-given right to a free cookie. So I approach this particular store with a bit of trepidation. And this morning, there weren’t any samples of any kind. Not even frosted banana bread. I thought, Surely I can bribe him with the promise of something later. If he starts screaming, we’ll just shop super fast and get out of here. Third kid. I’m totally willing to feed him crap right after breakfast, but I’m equally capable of shopping my entire list while he screams bloody murder. Buddy, sometimes life is rough. I’m sorry your world has ended, but we still need eggs.
We breezed past the sample-free bakery toward the produce. He didn’t say anything. He was out of the cart and walking, since it was just the two of us, and I thought maybe that had distracted him.
“Hey Sam, can you help me find some carrots?”
He walked toward the carrots, then stopped. “I want a cookie!”
Crap. “I’m sorry, buddy, they don’t have any today. Let’s look for onions!”
Perhaps you did not hear me, Mother. Or are you unaware that we have arrived at the grocery store? “I WANT A COOKIE!”
“I know you want a cookie. They don’t have any today. We can find a cookie when we get home, but there aren’t any for us today. We’re just going to have to keep going.”
And . . . disaster. He took off at full speed toward the bakery, which is a fairly standard, non-disastrous response. What I wasn’t expecting was for him to slip and crash to the floor, coming up screaming with a face full of blood. Blood everywhere. Like so much instant blood that I wasn’t sure if he smashed his nose or his teeth or bit through his tongue. And I had nothing with me. Not a kleenex, or a baby wipe, or an EMT first responder kit. Nothing. I had actually realized my unpreparedness when we got out of the car at the store and I saw that we had neither diapers nor wipes in the car, but I figured the worst that meant was a stinky ride home, totally forgetting there can always be something worse.
Did I mention that Sam’s gut response to injury is to run and scream and not let anyone come near him? And that it’s really hard to stop a bloody nose (I was able to figure out that all the blood was thankfully coming from the nose) when a child is baking away, screaming, and shaking his head back and forth? It was like a low-budget horror movie. Blood all over him, a good bit of blood on me, blood splattered on the floor. Fortunately the produce department stocks paper towels with the plastic bags, but I could barely hold onto him well enough to wipe the streaming blood, let alone pinch off the nosebleed.
I must have looked like I had the situation completely under control (how? how could it have looked anything like that?) because no one offered to help me. Nothing. I understand letting a mom deal with her child screaming bloody murder without inserting yourself, but the presence of actual blood, which was now spattered over a four-foot radius and still streaming out of Sam, seems like it would change things a bit. I am all for people keeping their unhelpful parenting commentary to themselves, but please, if any member of my family is visibly bleeding, throwing up, or passed out, let me say right now that you are not being obnoxious by inquiring whether I might need a hand, kleenex, or hazmat response team.
In desperation, I hustled over to the bakery counter and asked if someone could please get me some ice. The ladies were super helpful, also coming back with a warm, wet towel. (They didn’t want it back when we were done. Weird.) Sam finally let me close enough to ice his nose, we got both of us and the floor cleaned up (he was much more concerned about the floor than his hands and face) and finished buying 15 pounds of sugar and eight bags of chocolate chips, both of us probably looking a bit shell-shocked. I can’t speak for Sam, but I walked to the car with that same leftover adrenaline rush as when I’ve nearly missed hitting something with my car.
So happy Thursday. If your parenting day goes in a completely unexpected direction, just remind yourself you’re not alone. Life with kids. You really, really cannot make this stuff up.