I pull the car into the spot, and adjust the mirror so I can see him in the back seat. Ugghhh…I’m so tired. I glance at the clock and turn around in the seat.
”OK baby – we’ve got to go into the store. What’s the rule?”
I get out and pull him from his carseat. I grab a cart from the adjacent corral, plop him in it and start pushing the cart towards the store.
“I want to walk mommy.”
Oh dear. No time for this. Tantrum or let him walk? He can handle it. I draw him out of the cart and place him on the floor.
“We have to go fast honey. You’ll have to keep up.”
“OK Mommy.” He toddles along behind me.
We start up the frozen aisle – milk. I open the cooler and a puff of icy air hits my face.
“Mommy…can I we get some ice cream?”
“Honey…what’s the rule?”
“No asking. But I’m not asking. The baby likes ice cream. We should get some for her.”
My lips thin. “No honey, no ice cream.”
Up the next aisle. Part way up and he stops again, grabbing something off the shelf, placing it in the cart.
“I’m helping mommy, see?”
“No sweetie. That’s not on the list.”
“But I want it mommy! Can I have it?”
“No sweetie. Come on. We’re running short of time. Let’s go. Shall I put you in the cart?”
“NO. NO…I don’t wanna.”
I grip the cart handle. “OK. Let’s go.”
Where’s the list? In the seat. What’s next? I mentally check off what we already have. Milk, eggs, butter. Ahhh. Flour.
Wait…where’s…I turn my head.
There he is. At the beginning of the row. Why is he soooooo slow?
No. I shake my head firmly. No. No. No. Great. He’s picking it up.
“Mommy…can I have it?”
“No. No you can’t have it. We need to get going. Come on!” My anger simmers. There’s no time for this. I pinch the edge of his coat to propel him forward.
“But why mommy? I want it!”
Why? Why? WHY? Dammit – I said no asking. I told you we had to be fast. We’ve got to get this done before the doctors so we can pick up your sister before the daycare closes. I only have so much time in the day. I look down at him as he pushes the box closer, pleading.
No. Not the sad face. No. It’s not going to work. Dammit. We have things to do.
“Because I DON’T LOVE YOU. That’s why.”
My eyes grow big. My right hand lifts to cover my mouth and push the words back into it.
Shit. That was out loud. What did I do? I don’t mean that. Of course I don’t mean it. I love you more than anything in the world. Look at him. He’s cocked his head. He’s processing what you said.
That’s it. You’ve scarred him for life.
His gentle eyes look up at me with a frown as he blinks.
What do you do?
Next words out of his mouth are going to be “I hate you.” You’re done.
Worst. Mom. Ever. I cringe, turning my head and waiting for the verbal slap.
“Naaaaah….you love me.”
Relief. I lean down and pull him in for a hug. Take a breath. “Of course I do dear. Mommy loves you very much. Now come on. We have to get going.”
I put my hand back onto the cart and start pushing it, exhaling as I see him follow. Phew. That was close. Deep breath.
Now where’s the flour?
Ah. There it is. Good. Got the flour – I turn back to spot him.
He pushes a bag of chocolate chips towards me. “Mommy – can I have it?”
*Author’s note: This post is not based on any true story that happened to me ever. Really.
Have you ever said something to your child that you instantly regretted?