Antique Crazy, Parenting Gone Awry


When people find out that I was nearly 44 when I had my baby, they automatically say, “Aaah! Older parents have more patience.” Like all platitudes, it’s annoying and not universally true. And I have even less patience for platitudinal people than I have for my own oppositional dawdling toddler.

I have never had a tremendous amount of patience and now that I’m old and have a toddler, I have not magically become Mother Theresa as the platitudinal types would have you believe. If it is true, that older parents are more patient, then the aging fairy forgot mine when she was handing out gray hair and crows feet. And when I find her, I’m going to jerk that little wand out of her hand and whap her upside the head with it.

As a test of my limited patience, today I decided I would take Sean to Target to buy a new pair of shoes. He’s in the oppositional and dawdling stage and there are some days that by 9am, I am ready to pull my eyelashes out. Exorbitant outputs of energy (mine) are required to complete the simplest of tasks. He has his own idea about how to get things done and of course they are contrary to mine.

AM’s idea: Put shoes on Sean.
Sean’s idea: Crawl under the bed and remove clothes.

AM’s idea: Put Sean in car seat.
Sean’s idea: Insist on riding in Daddy’s car. Throw tantrum if necessary.

AM’s idea: Put Sean in car seat.
Sean’s idea: Wander around the garage looking for something to get in to.

AM’s idea: Put Sean in car seat.
Sean’s idea: Run down the driveway.

AM’s idea: Put Sean in the damn car seat.
Sean’s idea: Squirm away and run down the driveway.

AM’s idea: Tequila!

After an hour-long battle between older patient parent and dawdling oppositional toddler, I put the car in drive and head for Target.

AM’s idea: Put Sean in shopping cart.
Sean’s idea: Insist on the cart with three wheels and grayish pink bubble gum on cart handle. Throw tantrum if necessary.

AM’s idea: Try shoes on Sean as he sits in the cart.
Sean’s idea: Jump out of cart and pull boxes of shoes off the shelves.

AM’s idea: Try shoes on Sean as he sits on the floor.
Sean’s idea: Run down the aisle wearing cheap shoes shackled together with elastic.

AM’s idea: Tequila!

I was down to my last two ounces of patience, when we finally exited the store. As luck would have it, I had parked in a space that was on a slight incline. As I tried to get Sean out of the cart and into his car seat, the cart kept trying to roll away. In the process of keeping one foot on the cart and trying to get Sean into the car without him or the cart running away, I scratched his tummy with my car keys. Drama, twisting, wrenching and screaming ensued. As I was trying to throw the shopping bags onto the floorboard, they fell to the ground and the contents of which tumbled out into the parking lot and under the car. And then my left foot got caught in the cart from hell and I fell to the ground in an odd pose that combined the splits with an awkward prayer position.

Just as I’m worshiping at the altar of the absurd, a Papagallo-shopping, Capri-pants wearing, Kate Spade-carrying June Cleaver, who had parked next to me, showed up and waited smugly and patiently for me to untangle myself from the cart, get my antique duff off the ground, collect all my Target valuables from under the car and remove myself so that she could get into her shiny clean and probably Goldfish-free SUV. I quickly got up and got out of her way and expertly and accurately shoved the cart off towards the cart return.   Score!  Her dirty look told me she found shopping cart hockey contemptible.  So I stuck my thumbs in my ears, waved my fingers and blew a big raspberry at her. No, I didn’t really do that, because I had my child in the car and he would report that to his father.

When I finally got in the car, I sat there for a moment trying to summon the aging fairy to petition her for an extra helping of patience. And from the backseat, I hear Sean singing, “Poo Poo! Pee Pee! Poo Poo! Pee Pee!”

My sentiments exactly.

35 thoughts on “Patience

  1. ROFL at “because I had my child in the car and he would report it to his father.” because, umm, shamefully, this actually does keep me from doing stuff sometimes.

    I am 38. I think I have far less patience now than I did when my children were small. I don’t think I could handle the stress of dealing with a toddler anymore. That scene you described? ((shudder)). Can’t do it anymore. My kids get in and buckle themselves and I am exceedingly pleased with that.

    Generalizations suck. So, umm, I think I owe you a small apology for one I made recently about youngest children. Maybe my sister *is* crazy. I’ve considered that possibility. :?)

  2. I am 42 and the thought of having a child now gives me the shutters. Although if it were to happen, I would welcome it but I just could not do what you did at Target. I my self have sung the Poo Pee Poo song just today if for no other reason than it’s been on e of those days. I think that we should have cinnamon clouds and sugar angels for dinner.

  3. Ah, the poo poo pee pee days. I had my first child at 27, when I was theoretically young and energetic and I would still collapse exhausted and weeping into bed each evening, too tired to even THINK about drinking tequila… Luckily, I never learn from my mistakes! Now that I’m 34, I STILL collapse exhausted into bed but the improvement is now that I CAN think about tequila.

  4. I *SO* live in your life!

    I was 36 when the last one was born, and I was 19 when the first one was born. Patience was more in evidence with the last one only because I was a child myself with the first one.

    But guess what?

    Now that the last one is 12 going on 40, my patience seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Extinct. Because of that, I can really understand why tequila is a necessity in any well-stocked kitchen.

    At times I also tend to understand why some species tend to eat their young… :0)

  5. After several bouts of just about what you describe, I concluded that whoever invented those carts and did not install brakes was probably just flat-out evil, but certainly could not possibly have been a woman with a toddler, EVER.

    It took us 3 trips to the store to buy my son’s last shoes. The first time, to measure him, which sent him into apoplexy. The second time to try the shoes on, which sent him back into apoplexy because they weren’t his shoes, and they were too small, but there was no chance in heck of trying on the next size up. And the third time, for me to simply pick up the shoes in the correct size and pray that they fit. By now, merely walking into the store made him start to writhe and moan. And they didn’t have them — I had to mail-order them. Did I mention that he decided to poop while in the shoe store on the last trip? And I hadn’t brought the diaper bag?

    Right now, he wears a pair of slight-too-small sandals that seemed huge at the start of the season, the mail-order sneakers that are also a little snug now, and sometimes the two-sizes-too-big galoshes from his grandmother that are shaped like dinosaur heads. Soon it will be cold here, and we will be forced to do this again. Wish me luck!

  6. Oh dear. Maybe if you are an antique mommy, like me, 46, but there were several others first then you just figure it’ll all come out in the wash and you SEEM more patient because you decide to skip the whole Target thing anyway and let the kid go barefoot till the snow is on the ground.

  7. I remember the time my toddler had been whining, I was 42!!!! At “dinner” time, and I was trying to get all organized for 3 teenagers, one MIL and before hubby showed up. He came in right after I had poured a cup of water on said toddler’s head!! And I was the meany! Sigh.

  8. So that’s hysterical.

    I believe that I’m going to steal “oppositional dawdling toddler” as my new catchphrase.

    If you don’t mind, of course.

    I’ll be linking here shortly.

  9. Hilarious! I bet we could all write a book called “I took my kid to Target today, and…” Do you read Code Yellow Mom? She named her blog after a Target adventure.

    I’m so glad BooMama linked to you. Great writing.

    Oh, and I hope your day got better!

  10. BooMama was totally right. Hilarious post! I’m now subscribed;)

    By the way, if the patience fairy missed you, and it missed me (more of a vintage mommy), who GOT THE DARNED PATIENCE????

  11. Funny, I’m sitting here drinking a margarita as I read this. Well, it’s Tequila and Lemonade Crystal Lite, kind of a low rent Margarita (though easy on the Tequila), because I have days like that all the time! I started my family at 39, and gave birth to the third (and last) one at 44. Now at 46 I’m pooped. Patience my rear. I lost what little patience I had along with my abdominal muscles. Thanks for making me laugh. I’m here via BooMama.

  12. I don’t really like tequila but I imagine that I will think Tequila! on a regular basis from here on out. I’m not loaded with patience either.

  13. Well, I am your age and I have a 16 year old and I KNOW for a fact at MY age I could not do a toddler!! My hats off to you and I will pray for you truely. You are doing a marvelous job.

  14. At least you started out in the cart, right?

    And I’m sure Miss Papagallo-shopping, Capri-pants wearing, Kate Spade-carrying June Cleaver was insanely jealous of your beautiful child and no cute purse (or even shoes) can come near to that.

  15. Been there, done that. I will tell you from experience. having had basbies from the age of 18 to 39, you will not gain anymore patience. In fact I go to great lengths to avoid bringing my toddler to stores, like shopping at Safeway around midnight.

  16. I think I was more patient when I was younger BEFORE I had children. The patience gets used up so much more quickly once they arrive. Generally before you’ve even got them dressed in the morning you’ve used up your whole day’s quota.

  17. Oh, those *looks* from June Cleavers are just the icing on the cake, aren’t they? I try so hard not to give those looks to others on rare occasions when I’m not on the humiliating end of things! Been there, am there…
    Recently I was in a Whole Foods grocery store for a few specialty items with all 4 kids (it couldn’t be helped):ages almost-2, fully 3 ,7 with boundless energy, and 9 with autism. Fully loaded with Potential For Mayhem, in a store filled with politically-correct, peace-loving largely childless twenty-somethings. It was the 3 y.o. who lived up to all of that potential, attracting the disapproving stares of passersby and earning himself a placed in the basket of the cart where he would be more contained (seat of cart being already occupied by 1 y.o.) There, he proceeded to throw a royal fit and start kicking and bashing every bit of worth out of my overpriced groceries. So I swooped him out of the cart briskly with a quiet but strong word or two, and held him closely against me, restraining his flailing arms between my legs as I attempted to choose my last item and get out of there. There is no effective distraction, no time-out, no calm reasoning that will do a bit of good with a 3-year-old who’s lost it. The two others in the aisle stared at me, horrified and clearly deliberating about whether they needed to call Child Protective Services. They very quickly left. I checked out asap, trying to tell myself that I AM a good mom– they just don’t know what that looks like!

  18. You may have been down to your last two ounces of patience, but all that really matters at that moment is that you are NOT out of Tequila.

    This is why I work outside of the home. Even though it doesn’t save me a bit of $, it does save my patience and keeps my booze supply in check!

  19. Ah yes, patience. I am the 40 year old mother of four (6-15 years). My neighbors (all with toddlers) marvel at my “patience”. I’ve tried pointing out, it’s not necessarily patience. It’s experience (I’ve seen it all/been there, done that) and exhaustion (if there isn’t a fire or any bloodshed, is it that important?)
    And I must confess while I am usually sympathetic to moms with toddlers in the store…sometimes in my head I’m singing, “Nyah, nyah my kids are at home, and I’m at the store all alooone”

  20. Holy cow…I’m reading this, thinking “This will be me in a few years…Is it too late the stop the adoption process?” No, not really but thanks for the reality check; I’ll be reading along while we wait for our daughter.

  21. I don’t think it gets any easier to get boys ready as they get older. I can tell my seven year old to get dressed and an hour later still find him playing on the floor completely naked except for one sock (dirty I am sure) rolling around a Matchbox car. “Shiny things” will always distract our boys!!!

  22. Reading this post made me laugh and feel sad at the same time…I wish that there were blogs when my kids were little, as I remember days such as these…writing about them would’ve given me such an outlet! But just remember, the best is yet to come. I have 20, 16, 14 and 13 under my roof. Right now, the 16 and 13 year old are on the same menstrual cycle as I am, and it’s 3 days before our “due dates”. You can only imagine the joy and rapture going on in my house. Tequila, anyone?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *