Oh, we were doing so well. Record breaking heat, our neighbourhood with no shade, our hot box of a townhouse making us sweat all day, every day, all night, every night. SA and I were surly because the kids were so upbeat, so fucking perky, so, “Heat, what heat? Let’s jump around on the couch and then cuddle!” and we weren’t worried about them or anything it was more just a quiet, seething heat-rage that made us want to shout unreasonable things at them.
You can imagine what unreasonable things. I don’t need to write them out for you. You will be happy to know we restrained ourselves and only spoke unreasonably after the children went to bed.
And then today. Today, the heat caught up with the children, just as I was starting to acclimatize. I was organized, with my improvised drapes on the east side of the house and the fan at the west side, then the big sink full of cold water to evaporate into the air and dancing around like hey, cabana boy, here we are at El Copa Mizzle! Everything is fine!
But Fresco wouldn’t nap this morning. Clinging and crying and clinging and losing his mind if I put him down but I need to put him down, he is sweaty and he smells bad. And he keeps licking me and now I smell like baby saliva, on top of everything else. Trust me, it wasn’t peaches and cream to start with, my smell.
OK, I said. We are going to Superstore. It is air conditioned and we need groceries and maybe they have a discount fan isle or something. Not too far a drive. Then we’ll go to a nice park and sweat it out.
After the terror that is getting them out of the house which involves a) arguing about using the toilet b) telling Trombone 8 times to get his shoes on, c) getting money, bags, snacks, water together and c) not ever not once putting Fresco down, we were just about ready to go. Then Trombone opened the front door and Fresco escaped up the walk; towards the elevator not the stairs. Fine, I said to Trombone, we’ll take the elevator. He cried for 15 minutes. He wanted to take the stairs. He *always* wants to take the stairs. Why won’t I let him take the stairs?
(It’s patently untrue! He loves the elevator. Everyone loves the elevator. There are buttons to press, things light up and go bing. Don’t tell me you prefer the stairs. Why I oughta.)
By the time he stopped crying we were at Superstore. We went inside. It was cool. We loved it.
The thing I like about shopping at Superstore with two children is that the grocery cart holds two children. Safeway’s cart’s do not. WalMart’s carts do not. I don’t really like those two places anyway, but the fact that I can keep both kids restrained while at Superstore is a big plus.
On the other hand, they have to sit next to each other which means a whole lot of head butting and pinching and squealing and screaming and toy stealing and that is when I brought out Robot Mom.
Robot Mom (AKA Quaalude Mom) doesn’t lose her cool. She speaks in an even tone of voice and just says the same things over and over again and doesn’t even care. She is not using a human brain. Who cares if she is repeating herself? She speaks with a smile in her voice, the kind of smile you save for people you don’t like much when you run in to them in unexpected places. She does not look at the other customers. She just looks for the couscous. Mutters to herself about the Mexican isle and where have they hidden it now.
And says, “Don’t hit your brother. Please give Fresco back the toy. Fresco, here is water for you. Oh you don’t want the water. OK I will put it back in my purse. Oh look a sale on couscous. Splendid. Trombone, please don’t lick your brother’s arm if he squeals like that. Fresco please don’t head butt your brother. No no don’t open the box of mac and cheese. No no, thank you. Here I will put it out of reach. Oh you don’t like that. Oh well. Life is hard.”
She also says, “mm hmm?” a lot. Robot Mom pauses for no one. She gets it done.
We got everything we needed and only caused a scene at the end. Trombone bit Fresco on the shoulder and I took Fresco out of the buggy while I looked for new ice packs (no luck) and then when I tried to put him back in, all hell broke loose. “But I can’t check out and pack the groceries with one arm,” I explained, “I need you to sit in the seat. Sit in the seat. Sit in the seat.” Robot Mom started to steam a little. The smell of burning baby-saliva covered bicep began to drive other customers away from us.
He did not sit in the seat. Man that kid sure can scream.
Turns out I *can* check out and pack the groceries with one arm. Of course I can. How could I doubt Robot Mom?
There was more stuff when we got home; yogurt in the hair, time outs, the usual nonsense magnified by 400 because of the heat but I will spare you. I have an appointment with 17 popsicles.