Wednesday, August 10


I believe in karma. It exists and anyone who says differently just hasn't gotten a dose of it yet. Here's an example. When I was nineteen I hit a car in a parking lot. Knowing that I didn't have the money/insurance deductible to fix it, I drove away and didn't leave a  note. Then about a week later, my totally awesome '85 Nissan Pulsar broke down and cost me $800 to fix. 

My Mom has a slightly different interpretation. "Don't worry, payback's a bitch," was a phrase I heard a lot, usually at the end of some exasperating incident involving me. At the time I remember thinking that karma is something the universe takes care of and payback is usually doled out by other people. Plus, I don't think that payback encompasses accidents like blown speakers in the car (sorry), and bad choices like returning from a friends house with a Flock of Seagulls haircut (not sorry). 

No, I think that payback is more like revenge. For example, say you get  dumped by a guy for some chick that you both work with. Then, knowing that his car has a broken window and no air conditioning, sneaking a bag of frozen shrimp under the drivers seat. In August. Although this a totally hypothetical situation, it would be a great form of payback. As a side note, if someone would have executed this genius plot, it might have been awesome to hear him complain about the smell in his car, which would maybe have opened him up to some great "maybe it's your new girlfriend" comments.

Minor cases of B&E aside, I'm beginning to question the gray area between karma and payback, because I'm realizing that little kids do a lot of shit on purpose. Like throwing things, kicking walls, and pinching stranger's  butts (see Diana post). Plus, a lot of times they make a conscious decision to meltdown, which usually I can spot a mile away. It's like a tornado. It has no discernible path, it makes a horrible noise, and you can't outrun it.

I know that there is no rationalization for behavior that is irrational in nature. The adult mind simply cannot wrap itself around the concept that a hot dog that has been served in a bun instead of by itself is worthy of a 30 minute temper tantrum. Nor is it easy to accept it when you see your child doing something straight from your own "Childhood's Greatest Hits Live Double Album."

Before I regale you with the disaster that was my Friday night, let's have a little background. When I was a kid my Mom wanted to take me to the circus. I was stoked about it all week - until we got in the car to go. For some reason, I don't know if it was the prospect of clowns or what, I decided that the circus was the last place I wanted to be. Looking back, I admit that I was a little shit the whole night. I didn't like where we sat. I didn't like the popcorn. I was bored, and on and on and on.

Where's that crawl space again?
Finally when the circus ended, my Mom took me over to the clowns. And like everyone I've ever met, I was afraid of the them. I didn't want to go near them and refused to pose for a picture. I can remember my Mom stalking back to the car not able to even look at me. At the time I couldn't understand why she didn't respond to my "I love you's" and attempts to make amends. But now? Now I totally get it.

This past weekend, we decided to take Piper to the fair, or we at least tried to. I knew that we were in big trouble when I told her she couldn't wear her Hello Kitty crown. Normally I wouldn't have cared, but it was really windy and I didn't feel like chasing the thing all over horse-poop covered with straw. I must have really pushed her over the edge when I asked her to put on her baseball hat. You know, so she wouldn't get a sunburn. Boy, am I a bitch.

I could see her cumulonimbus cloud forming and braced myself for her unstable atmosphere, but the system seemed to stall out and everything went smoothly during the initial run through of activities. 
Piper was having fun. Mark was
having a panic attack.
Of course she only wanted to go on the Ferris wheel, clearly not knowing that both of her parents are terrified of heights. So naturally I made Mark go. I knew that he's much better at masking terror than I am. I figured that having Mommy scream for the carnie to "stop the fucking ride right NOW" might not be the best memory to carry around. 

Everyone emerged unscathed from the wheel of death, and things seemed to be heading in the right direction, until the noise. Loud noise. The kind that's only made by rides that cause people to lose change noise. A sudden spaceshipy-woooooosh combined with the tunes of Pearl Jam at an ear-splitting volume triggered some sort Vietnam flashback, bringing her to the ground crying.

That's when things began to fall apart. As her emotional wall cloud formed, I heard "there's sweat in my eyes!" I tried to wipe it off, but by then the atmosphere was definitely showing signs of visible rotation. That's when the screaming began. "It burns, it burns!" she cried as the sun block mixed with sweat and rolled behind her sunglasses. I could tell that no amount of baby wipes were going to save this situation. 

I thought fast. As a former fat kid, I knew that my best option was to throw sugar at her. I left her screaming bloody murder at a picnic table with a frustrated Mark and surprisingly calm Tanner. While waiting in line, I decided that a corn dog was in order, because well, I'm still a fat kid at heart. All total I spent $16 on a over-sized, over-priced lemonade, corn dog and funnel cake. I was positive that at least one of these items could stop the rising updraft.

Too late. 

I have never seen a glorified doughnut make a child so angry. "Noooooo! I don't want that! I want my oooooooooooown! No! I don't want that stupid lemonade. Give me soooooome! Daddy, Mommy won't let me have any drink. I want my oooooooooooown! I want my own corn dog." Ladies and gentlemen, we can confirm a touch down. 

By that time, our little F2 held the attention of everyone in our general vicinity and may have gotten some of the livestock riled up as well. To make matters worse, Piper has a habit of screaming "you're hurting me!" if you touch her when she's freaking out. Naturally, this doesn't go over very well when you have 20 police officers standing around. 

This was our cue to leave. In one swift motion, I had Tanner's stroller headed to the exit, putting as much distance between myself and our living Fujita scale as I could. Once we got home, cooled off and ate (oh, I kept that corn dog), the tornado petered out and all that was left was a bunch of emotionally downed trees. Then, the weirdest thing happened. Piper kept randomly hugging me and trying her best to cuddle, all while showering me with "I love you's." I'm not going to lie, I was too mad to respond for awhile. 

Then I thought of that circus so long ago, and all the fucked-up, John Wayne Gacy look-a-likes that my Mom made me stand next to. And even though I was super-pissed at my daughter's behavior, more than anything I was disappointed. I wanted her to have fun so that it could be something for me to remember and look back on. As we all know, I love making the memories. 

After I let go of my pure, unadulterated, rage and finally accepted the hugs and "I love you's," I felt better and so did she. I don't want her to feel like every time she makes me mad I'm going to deny her my affection. Especially when she's learning behaviors that will one day, many, many, many, many years from now (did I saw many years? I meant 30) follow her into motherhood. Because you know, payback's a bitch.


Jill said...

OH, I SO neeed this today! So, it's not just my kids? And me? Whew. I was beginning to think I was an awful mother.