Makes Me Sigh, Memaw, Snips And Snails

The Lightning Blue Remote Control Speed Boat

Sometimes when I catch Sean being good, I reward him by letting him pick out something at the grocery store.  The only limitation I put on him is that it must be something that can fit in the palm of his hand.  And it is for this reason that I haven’t told him where Wal-Mart keeps the iPods.

And so it was one day early in the summer.  When we got to the store, we headed straight back to the toy department in search of a reward. We went up the aisles and down the aisles and down the aisles and up the aisles trying to make a decision, trying to choose the exact right perfect reward that would fit in the palm of his grubby little hand.

Finally he stopped dead in his tracks in front of a display of little boy heaven.  He pulled from the shelf a box that was about the size of a small television.  Wearing a hopeful expression, he held out his hands to show me.  Behind the cellophane window on the front of the box was a lightning blue remote control speedboat. The sticker on the front of the box read $25.

“Sean,” I asked, “Does this fit in the palm of your hand?”

“No. But I really want it.”

“Well I can see why.  It is very cool.  But this is a big thing.  This is more the kind of thing you would get for a birthday present.”

“Oh. I thought that was what you’d say,” he said with dramatic dejection.  Dramatic flair does not work on me.  I’ve had my little-boy-manipulation shot. I am immune.

He hung his head, heaved an exaggerated sigh, and as though wearing lead boots, he walked the box back to its place on the shelf.  He patted it and then stood there looking longingly at it.  If I were a member of the Academy, I would have given him an Oscar right there in Wal-Mart.

As we continued on, I took a second look at the boat and made a mental note in case of the unlikely event that it was something that he still wanted when he had a birthday later this fall.

About a week later we went to a birthday party.

And sure enough the birthday boy got the lightning blue remote control speed boat.

I watched Sean watching the boy open the box, watching the boy’s face light up.

I watched him try to pretend to be happy for the birthday boy as he has been instructed to do.  I noticed his bottom lip start to tremble.

He popped his head above the crowd of kids sitting criss-cross-applesauce in front of the birthday boy.  He searched for my face.  He gestured towards the boat with open palms.  He shrugged his shoulders in a statement of disbelief.  I noticed that his ears were red.

He got up, stepped over a few kids and schlumped over to me with the lead boots, head hung low, both arms swinging from side to side like an ape.

He put his head in my lap and whispered through tears, “That was the very thing I wanted and HE got it.”

Part of me wanted to give him a stern lecture about how silly he looked, about how grateful he should be for all that he has, about how he should focus outward and not on himself, about how it wasn’t about him today, about how he will have his own birthday this fall, about how he was embarrassing me, about a million other things.

Yet, my heart broke for him because it was exactly how I felt for years at baby showers.  I would pretend to be delighted for the mother-to-be when really I wanted to lay my head in my mother’s lap and cry bitter tears about the unfairness that some other gal was getting the very thing I wanted.

In that moment, I didn’t really know what to do. I wanted to comfort and scold him all at the same time.  And no course of action seemed right.

So I told him it’s not his party and he can’t cry if he wants to — and I sent him back to the party.  We would have to talk about it later but in the mean time the civilized thing to do was to play the part of a good party guest.

The birthday party might have provided a wonderful life lesson about waiting and wanting and not getting everything you want.  But shortly after the birthday party, Sean came home from Memaw’s with a lightning blue remote control speed boat.

Memaw had three little boys of her own at one time but apparently she needs a little-boy-manipulation booster shot.

33 thoughts on “The Lightning Blue Remote Control Speed Boat

  1. Ohhhhh those sneaky Memaws! All about the tough lessons when we were kids, but as soon as the grandchildren arrive? It’s lightning blue remote control boats at the blink of an eye.

    My child still has 6 months left to cook in utero and already his/her Memaw is stockpiling one of everything s/he could ever want. (I find that the amount of loot Memaw gathers is inversely proportional to what Memaw figured was her chances of ever having said grandchild in the first place. When this kid is finally born, US Economists will no doubt declare it “National Memaw Day” in celebration of my mother officially and single-handedly pulling the retail economy out of the toilet).


    Successful or not, I always enjoy your life lessons, which manage to speak to me even if they sometimes miss your original target (and/or his Memaw). Thanks for the reminder.

    * * *
    Oh my oh my Quirky – you are in for more wonderful than you can even imagine. Congratulations and may God bless you with a healthy baby and safe delivery!

  2. It’s funny how teaching children the right thing to do often reminds us that we’re still learning the same basic lesson, just on a different plane.

    (I’m glad Sean got the boat. I’m immune to young-child-manipulation too, but I love a happy ending.)

  3. Awwwww. I’m sorry you ever felt that way! I wish NO ONE ever had to feel that way at baby showers (or wedding showers or weddings and so on). I’ve been there and it just STINKS. Sigh.

    But on a brighter note, I’m very glad Memaw isn’t current with her shots!

  4. My son once came home from a party and told me that he’d won a game, and had been so excited because you got to pick a prize if you won, and there was a little tic-tac-toe game that he wanted “with his whole heart”. But all those games had gone, so he’d had to say “thank you very much” and pick a pencil or some other trinket instead (I forget what it was). He described how much he was longing for the tic-tac-toe game, and how excited he was to be able to pick a prize, and how disappointed he was that the tic-tac-toe game had gone in such vivid terms, that I swore on the spot that I would accompany him to birthday parties for the rest of his life, and would contact the party host in advance, so that I could have a secret stash of identical prizes in a bag, just in case the supply of favorite games ran out.

    Then a few weeks later, we were shopping, and he showed me a tic-tac-toe game and said it was the same as the one he’d wanted so badly, but added that it wasn’t all that exciting really. Which was a relief, since it let me off the hook regarding those years of birthday parties…

    * * *
    Now that made me smile…

  5. I am exceedlingly glad that you’re posting again, AM. But I also appreciate the lure of writing and arting. Strong addictives.

    Your cautionary tale and Iota’s comment remind me of my asking God for something I too also will be exceedingly glad to get. Today.

    Maybe God is whispering, “Wait for your birthday, G-Ma.” But I’m not using my listening skills. . .

  6. Ha! I hear “criss-cross applesauce” at LEAST once a day.

    But what I’m dying to know is where you get the little boy manipulation shots. I need to send The Dad to get one. gigglesnort.

  7. That is a happy, sad, happy, heart-rending/warming story. But the end part is the best part. Thank heavens for mother like you who have to deliver the lessons at time and for Me-Maws like Sean’s who (finally) get to administer the balm.

  8. From your telling, I can exactly picture the scene at the party, ape walk and everything. You all did well, especially you with your consistent parenting. Sean learned a lesson and Meemaw had the joy of making a little boy very happy.

  9. I remember those painful showers all too well; several years of torturing myself by going to parties to celebrate someone else’s good gift. Thankfully I got exactly what I wanted 6 months ago, in the form of an adorable blue-eyed boy we named Judah. 🙂 I guess we have to learn both that we don’t always get what we want when we want it, but also that God (and Memaw) are sometimes way more gracious than they have to be and give us something that is exactly what we asked for, something we’ve been longing for for a long time.

    I was re-reading your post about infertility and just found it to be so true and helpful.

    I loved this post.

  10. Aw, that’s what Memaw’s are for! And I understand the baby shower feeling, too, though not nearly as much as you went through! Thank you for this post, I always love reading your words!

  11. “little-boy-manipulation booster shot.” indeed!

    There are 3 rules for being a good grandparent:

    Spoil them rotten.

    Fill them full of sugar.

    Send them home.


  12. I’m almost 70 but still remember that “why not me?” feeling at baby showers. God showed my “why” with 3 adopted children who were MEANT to be in my life.
    You are developing such a good heart in your little boy. Yeah for Memaw, too.

  13. Oh, I seriously have tears in my eyes. Is it bad that I’m happy that Sean got his boat? I may need a booster shot, too. I’m partly immune, but not fully.

  14. This happened to me with the movie ‘Dumb an Dumber’ when my son was 13. We were at WalMart with Grandma and I said he I would not spend money on that potty humor. Next thing I know, Grandma is purchasing it saying “I’ve really been wanting to see this.” (Because what 60 year old grandmother does NOT want to watch Jim Carrey be crass?) Funny, my son got to ‘borrow’ it and it never saw the inside of Grandma’s house.

    Grandma’s have such special (and sneaky) privileges. I love it.

  15. I have the same experiences with Katherine (also 6) all the time and yes, I am also immune to her manipulation, although my heart does sometimes ache for her. I feel her pain when she can’t get what she wants. We’ve all had those painful moments but it still doesn’t mean we should give in to their every materialistic desire. And those meemaws! My MIL bought her an 18 inch Madame Alexander doll when she was four years old after she had been told in no uncertain terms that she had to wait until she was six to get an 18 inch American Girl doll. Oh, the frustration!

  16. ROFL…. THAT is the kind of Grandma I plan on being. 😉 No not anytime soon I hope and Pray! That is the best part of being Grandma you get to spoil them and send them home. Then mom and dad don’t have to cave and everyone ends up with what they want…. hopefully.

  17. Speaking as a new Mimi, more power to Meemaw!

    I had no idea I would feel this way when I became a grandparent. I loved my children, still do, but wasn’t particularly maternal. You know, they all tell you, but until you’re there… just like marriage and children. We do all continue to learn and grow.

    And, btw, I think you’re doing a great job with Sean

  18. Here’s what happens when you don’t keep up with the boosters . . . at 29 they call to ‘vent’ about some ‘hard lesson’ that could have been taught on a much smaller scale! I have since had a double shot (while at Starbucks!) and do not take it anymore. You have to wait a little longer for the I’m sorry, but, better late than never, and lesson learned albeit the hard way.
    I love your honesty. Why is it son’s can pull so hard on the heart strings?

  19. I cannot WAIT to be a Grandma, and I’m so afraid it will never happen. sniff. Spoiling grandchildren has to be the best payback ever for all the door slams and eyerolls of teenagers- ha ha

  20. My parents’ theory is that they did a lot of saying no when WE were kids and now they’re out of them. My kids get anything they want from their grandparents – candy for breakfast! comic books at whim! Good thing their wishes are small.

  21. Thanks, AM, for this. I’ll be 30 next year, never married, and I have no idea how many showers and weddings I’ve attended, smiling outwardly, crying inwardly. Thanks for not forgetting people like me. You’re a great mom.

  22. This was wonderful. I could picture Sean’s ape walk, as I’ve been there…..and I remember feeling the same way when I too would go to baby showers, wondering why God hadn’t seen fit to give me a baby yet.
    This post is one of your best.

  23. Very descriptive post, I loved every second of it. I could relate on so many levels, to both you and your son. Very touching story.

    Grandparents always ignore their parenting methods and choose to embrace the joy of it all. It’s just another one of life’s stages.

  24. With my own greedy, selfish little soul, I struggle every day to be happy for others who get I what I don’t, and not complain. So I haven’t had the heart to scold my daughter when the same thing (OK, it wasn’t a BOAT, but you know what I mean) happened to her.

    I just hold her, empathize, and explain to her that these things sometimes happen, everyone gets some things they want but not EVERYTHING they want, blah blah. Until she has herself pulled back together and is ready to rejoin. Funny, she hasn’t talked about that toy since! 😉

  25. Awww…I’m so glad Memaw came through 🙂 Sometimes we just need to be a little spoiled. And I’m glad you remembered how it felt. And, of course, glad that you were strict too. Both are needed in parenting, aren’t they?

  26. I want 2 or three of those boosters please…I tell my boys no plenty, but what cracks me up is their dad will sit here and tell me all the things they don’t need and then somehow he takes them to the store and all 3 lil boys and HIM will come home with some 100$ remote control car or equally stupid nonsense. Its like hellllloooo anyone home?

    For Bethany….I felt exactly as you do at 30. I had been to all the showers and weddings and births and…it was painful. Shortly after my 30th b day I met my (now) husband. We got married a year later and by our first anniversary were pregnant with our second child.
    The waiting sucks, but one thing to consider, we were much more secure in our decision when we got married, and we are more stable than the majority of couples we know still. It was well worth waiting for.

  27. I am shameless sometimes in getting exactly what my girls want! Since I am much older this time around (we have 3 adult kids and 2 elementary cuties) my friend thinks I need reminding sometimes that I am not the Memaw. I don’t want a booster!!
    Love reading your stories….you capture the fun and quizzical things of mommy hood so well.

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