“When we get in the store, you are not to run around like a maniac. Do you understand?” I asked Natalie.
“I won’t,” Tommy chimed in.
“I won’t,” Natalie repeated.
I parked the car in front of Once Upon a Child. I had a plastic bin of stuff to sell so I grabbed that and once again told Natalie to behave.
It’s harder to go out with Tom gone. When Tom is around, she’s on her best behavior because she hates upsetting her father. But with me? Well. She doesn’t take me quite as seriously.
I pulled open the front door.
“TOYS!” Natalie shouted and ran for them. Her vow to behave was gone in an instant and I watched in horror as she raced past customers and hopped on a rocking horse.
“Is Natalie being good?” Tommy wondered. Tommy, it should be noted, was standing beside me dutifully.
“No,” I said distractedly as I set the plastic bin on the counter.
“We’ll be done going through this in twenty minutes,” the store worker said.
We could wait for twenty minutes. I hurried over to Natalie and reminded her that we don’t run around a store.
“I’m not,” Natalie said and then scurried to the book section.
Was I not speaking English?
What part of DON’T RUN did she not comprehend?
Okay. Don’t panic. WWSD? (What would Supernanny do?)
She’d probably tell me to remove Natalie from the store. But…then I’d have to drive all the way back and gas wasn’t exactly cheap.
She’d say I was making excuses, that if I didn’t want Natalie behaving like this then I’d have to put a stop to it RIGHT AWAY and remove her from the store.
Well, I wasn’t leaving the store. But I would tell Natalie that her behavior was unacceptable.
“Natalie,” I said in my best Scary Mom and weirdly British-like-Supernanny voice. “What did I just say? We don’t run around a store, it’s rude.”
Natalie had the nerve to run to the clothes and I had the urge to use inappropriate language.
I was all set to march over to her when Tommy stuck something in front of my face.
“I found a Transformer. A big Optimus Prime. Can I get it?” Tommy asked. “I’m being good.”
“Fine, fine,” I said and went over and picked Natalie up. She did not like this and screamed into my ear and called me mean.
“If anyone is being mean, it’s you. You LIED to me and said you were going to be good,” I answered as she tugged on my hair.
Another mother frowned in my direction as her son, who looked to be around Natalie’s age, waited calmly beside her. I wanted to say, “Well I’m sorry, we can’t all have angels. Just you wait when he goes through a Goth stage and wants to wear long dark skirts to school. It happens. I went to high school with a guy like that.”
“PUT ME DOWN!” Natalie screeched. “PUT ME DOWN!”
“We’re done going through your stuff,” a store worker said. She could probably see that I was close to losing it.
Natalie managed to slide down my body and then planted herself in the middle of the store, arms crossed over her chest.
“I’m MAD!” Natalie informed me. “I’m MAD at you,” she added to make sure I was clear.
“Is Natalie being good?” Tommy asked again.
“Tommy! No! Can you not see her?” I snapped and then I felt bad. I mean, Tommy was the one being good.
I went up to the counter to get my money for the stuff I brought in.
“I’m MAD!” Natalie yelled.
“You just wait till I tell your father about this,” I threatened.
The worker tilted her head sympathetically. “Rough day? Well, at least you can pass her off to Daddy.”
A lump formed in my throat. “Daddy isn’t here.”
The worker looked horrified. She probably figured that he had left us or something and she might have even thought, “And who can blame the guy, that little girl has a set of lungs.”
“I mean,” I corrected, “he’s in Korea. Until next year. So I’m alone. And I’m sorry about my daughter. She’s....well, maybe I should have read more parenting books, and I did try but they bored me to tears so I decided to wing it which is probably a mistake seeing as she’s acted like a crazy person the entire time we’ve been here.”
Yup, I had a case of verbal diarrhea.
And now I think the store worker was debating calling security.
“Um, well,” the store worker stuttered. “Well.” She punched a few buttons on the cash register and practically threw my money at me. “Good luck.”
“Thanks.” I pocketed the money and then grabbed Natalie and threw her over my shoulder like she was a bag of sand.
“STILL MAD!” Natalie bellowed. “STILL VERY VERY MAD!”
It was a struggle to get her into the car. When I managed to get her strapped in I felt like I had just finished a long workout.
When we got home Tom was on Skype so I told him how she behaved. He lectured her, of course, but then she went, “I love my Daddy,” and he was all, “Awww, Daddy loves you too,” and I was left going, “The crap kind of lecture was that?”
Oh man. It’s going to be a long year, isn’t it?