The birth of ONE ushered an unexpected love for chocolate into my life. I didn’t even like chocolate before she was born. By the time TWO arrived I was convinced she’d come with cavities due to the amount of Hershey products I consumed while she gestated. Now, when I get really overwhelmed I find myself eating chocolate. A lot of chocolate. Like half-a-bag-of-Cadbury-mini-eggs a lot.
Which was why, after a supremely stressful weekend, I found myself inspecting the endcaps at Target for the shiny purple bags while also shopping for ONE’s third birthday party. I was keeping the party simple, but it was still a daunting task. And since three year-olds didn’t lend themselves to organized activities, I’d planned a lightly structured free-for-all. One of the play areas would be dedicated to big balloons, small balloons, punching balloons, small bouncy balls and those great big ones that are caged at the store.
TWO, still the portable child that she is, was nestled in her carrier smiling away as I tried to wedge the buckled contraption into the front seat of the cart. I’d seen other moms do it all the time and it always looked like a natural, perfect fit. Maybe it was for them, but TWO’s seat didn’t lock in the way I thought it would. Usually I wore her in a Moby wrap, but due to the frantic form in which I left the house that morning, I forgot it. So with her carrier monopolizing the front of the cart and everything else in the back, fitting in the bouncy balls presented quite the challenge. I, however, arranged everything in a way that fit. At least part of my brain was working.
On the way to the register I finally spotted the purple bags of Cadbury mini eggs. I took a deep breath and decided to press on because I really needed to quit eating chocolate. Not because of the snarky comments made by my wonderful husband who had become as obsessed with the gym as I was with eating chocolate and drinking Coke, but because TWO’s face was breaking out and I feared it was due to my consumption of candy coated eggs.
But what was more important? Her complexion or my nerves? I backed up and grabbed a bag.
After paying for my items I inspected the cart. They didn’t have bags big enough for the play balls so they were on the top and threatened to fall off, even in the store where the floor surface was smooth. Visions of chasing these balls around the parking lot danced through my head. How was I going to get everything to the car? How was I going to handle all those 3YOs at the party? What if they all got bored and started to cry? What if the parents tried to drop them off and leave? It was all suddenly too much. The lights were too bright and there were too many people. I felt the tears coming on. I needed to get out of the store.
I carefully pushed the cart out of the building and down the sloped curb toward the parking lot. No sooner had we crossed in front of the cars did one of the balls fall out of the cart and bounce away. I immediately ran for it and snatched it up before it hit a car that was waiting for me to pass. I swung around, raced back to the cart and steered both to the car. Success.
I snapped TWO’s carrier into the car and shoved most of my bags into the trunk. I had to put one of the stupid balls in ONE’s carseat and the other one in the passenger seat, along with a remaining bag. I opened the passenger-side door, careful not to hit the shiny, mammoth SUV parked next to me when I realized what had just happened.
I had abandoned my infant child, who was sitting in a carrier not securely attached to a cart that was rolling by itself in front of traffic in a packed parking lot.
For a two dollar and ninety-nine cent ball.
My hands started to shake and I suddenly got the convulsing hiccups that usually followed an hour of crying. A horn blared. I jumped up and knocked the passenger-side door into the SUV next to me. I looked up and the sound came from that very Tahoe. An angry woman glared at me. I felt the warm tears creep up behind my eye. I would cry in five, four, three, two… She rolled down a window.
“I’m sorry,” I said to her. “I’ll give you my information…”
“No, I just want you to move. I need to get to my crying child.”
I looked in her back seat. Her child was wailing. How had I not heard that? I closed the door and raced around to the other side of my car and got in. I put my seatbelt on, locked the doors and just sat there.
And then I remembered the Cadbury eggs. What was the chance they were in the one bag in the front seat? I peeled it open and they smiled back at me. I opened the bag, took three at a time, and cried.
©2008 CEK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED