The morning is thick and white and long. We go to the mall. Visit Claire’s, the Candy Palace, Justice, The Disney Store and any other venue that looks pink and mind-numbing. TWO starts to whine. I check my watch. It’s almost lunch. I rush the girls towards the exit which prompts a flurry of anger and resentment.
TWO refuses to hold my hand in the bustling parking garage so she gets tucked under my arm like a football. A big-headed, 30-lb football. Her screams reverberate off of the cars and shoot directly through my ears and into my brain. ONE whines about how TWO makes her head hurt. I bite my tongue.
I look around and can’t find the car. We walk up and down the aisles. I’m sure I parked it on the ground level, but it’s not here. I start to panic. ONE reminds me that we drove Daddy’s car. I breathe. Yes. Daddy’s car. I find his car. But not the keys. By the third time I’ve searched every crevice of my purse, panic resumes. His key ring is smaller than mine; it doesn’t have all of the stupid store cards on it. I could have dropped it and not heard it fall.
I dump the contents of my purse on the asphalt between my car and the monster SUV parked next to me. TWO gets tired of waiting and takes a slow, deliberate step back. I notice immediately and instruct her to return. She considers my offer and declines.
She takes off. I catch her just as she enters the wide-open area where cars back up and squeel into the lot. She receives her first “safety-spank.” She is shocked. So am I. She hasn’t pulled this before. I didn’t expect it from her. But I don’t mess around when it comes to safety.
I lock her flailing body against my chest and feel something sharp stab my side. It’s my keys. They are in my vest pocket. I buckle the girls into the car and sit for a minute. Staring. TWO continues to scream. ONE admonishes her for running into traffic. She waxes on about the time she did it. She got spanked too. She never did it again and advises TWO to follow suit.
We return home. Lunch is a mess. The kitchen is a mess. The house is a mess. It will remain that way until about twenty minutes before my husband returns home when I’ll suddenly want it to look like I got things done and make a quick-ditch effort.
TWO gets dumped in her bed for a nap. Her screaming finds its real purpose. I sit on the top step for a moment before going back down. I breathe. I try not to think about what we’re going to do when nap and quiet time are over.
I trudge back into the kitchen. ONE sits quietly at the counter and eats her sandwich. My cellphone beeps. I have two missed calls and a message. I hadn’t even heard it ring. The numbers are from the house line. So is the message. For some reason this is impossible for me to comprehend. I wonder if my father-in-law stopped by while we were at the mall and called from the house. I listen to the message.
It is from ONE.
“I’m making you a message…recording…about this…song…I wrote for you: ‘I loooooove you, Mom…please like it. I worked my way to sing it for you…for you I worked it out.’ I love you, Mom. Bye.”
I look up. She’s watching me. Biting back a smile. I start to cry. I hurry over to her and hug her. Kiss her. Lift her off the stool and spin her around. Breathe in her giggles and savor the wonder of how quickly a really bad day turned perfect.
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