Originally posted August 2016
School supply shopping day is one of my favorite days all year long.
Except when it isn’t.
See, up until now, my girls have been at this sweet age where EVERYTHING IS SWEETNESS AND LIGHT, they love their mama, they’re grateful for whatever school supplies I choose for them with, you know, puppies and kittens, we buy all the cute, fun things then go eat Mexican food, laugh, and snuggle. It’s been our annual tradition forever.
I didn’t believe them, because a) I’m a better parent than most, I secretly thought, all self-righteous and proud, and b) my daughter and I are just CLOSE, and we always have been, and we won’t have any of those teenage shenanigans that other, lesser parents struggle with. The teenage years will just be a breeze for US, I thought, right up until some point in roughly 2014-ish when I started having homicidal thoughts toward my offspring on account of the eye-rolling.
But in addition to the lovely teenager moments I’m enduring, I ALSO HAVE A THREE-YEAR-OLD. A lively, rambunctious little thing who wasn’t going to WANT to sit still in the buggy while the other three of us pick out all the super fun school supplies on their lists.
I foresaw the chaos and turmoil to come in the school supply aisle, what with a rambunctious three-year-old and all, and I had the wisdom and maturity to preempt it with a little bribery.
“Susie,” I said, with all the excitement in my voice, “If YOU can sit really, really quietly in the buggy, and you’re really, really patient while WE shop, then YOU CAN PICK SOME SCHOOL SUPPLIES!!!!! I’ll let you pick ONE notebook and some PAINT!!!! But ONLY IF you’re QUIET and PATIENT!!!!”
Oh, I talked it up. And Susie agreed to the terms, because NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES, y’all. And I brought an iPad to distract her, and I hooked that sucker up to the free wifi, and rolled on into the school supply section, super confident that THIS WOULD BE A PIECE OF CAKE…
…but apparently it was all just TOO MUCH for Susie.
Because pencils and markers everywhere. Folders with NEMO and ELSA and ANNA AND ALL HER FAVORITE DISNEY FRIENDS, y’all. So many bright, fun things as far as the eye could see, and she, apparently, INSTANTLY regretted selling her soul by agreeing to JUST SIT HERE IN THIS GOD-FORSAKEN BUGGY, ALL QUIETLY AND PATIENTLY.
And she was so overcome that she couldn’t contain the words that came out of her mouth….
WELL, DAMN, DAMN, DAMN, she said.
Because OF COURSE if a toddler is going to use curse words for the first time ever, let’s do it right, know what I’m saying? We want EVERYONE. TO. HEAR. the big, bad, vile language that we are now big enough to use.
And the girls and I gasped and then fell over laughing hysterically, WHICH IS ALWAYS THE WRONG RESPONSE, I might add.
Because laughing hysterically pours fuel on the fire, toddlers LOVE to get a huge reaction in which multiple people are SHOCKED and laughing hysterically, and they’re just gonna do that stuff again.
And so she did, a dozen more times that day, until I finally had to threaten some consequences with my stern eyes because WE DON’T TALK THAT WAY IN THIS FAMILY.
“Well, damn, damn, damn,” she whispered.
It was my fault, really, for laughing. In my defense, my other two children never used such language, so it completely caught me off guard. They were good. This child is a little rougher around the edges… I honestly have no idea where she heard that. We don’t even have TV.
I know what you’re thinking: she must have heard that vile language from me. Well, let me assure you she did NOT. Oh, not because I’m above using some colorful language when necessary, but THAT particular one isn’t one I normally use, because if I’m angry enough to use some words, they’re going to be MUCH worse than that one, because it takes a LOT of frustration for me to go there. And never within the kids’ earshot, because I do have some manners and class, gosh.
Well, let me clarify that I have manners and class until I’m school supply shopping with a 14-year-old, and I’m not gonna lie, that almost turned into a Jerry Springer episode complete with chair-throwing and breaking out the REALLY UGLY words, the ones that are so much uglier than Susie’s relatively tame word of choice.
I barely held it together, and if you KNEW how much love, joy, peace, and patience that took, you’d be impressed. Like, it’s ONLY because I have the Holy Spirit that my 14-year-old is not killed dead and her body dumped in the dumpster behind the school supply store.
She came close to going on Home with her Heavenly Father, is what I’m trying to say.
And the details aren’t important now, but ONE of us, I won’t say who, was reading the supplies off of the ACTUAL OFFICIAL list, and the other one, it’s not important who now, and I’d never want to embarrass anyone anyway, well, HER head was spinning around, projectile vomiting, eyes rolling around in her head, and she was shrieking and screaming about how she DIDN’T CARE IF THE LIST SAID 1 1/2″ BINDERS, THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE 2 1/2″ BINDERS, AND WHY COULDN’T I JUST TRUST HER AND STOP TREATING HER LIKE A CHILD, BECAUSE SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE’S DOING AND I DO NOT BECAUSE I HAVE NOT BEEN TO HIGH SCHOOL IN ONE HUNDRED YEARS.
And so it went, on down the list, each item I read off of the official list from the school being WRONG, and if I’d just LISTEN to her, we’d get the RIGHT supplies instead of the WRONG ones, because clearly I don’t have enough sense to know that when the list says 1 1/2″, they MEAN 2 1/2″.
The school supply aisle is a dangerous place to be when you’re having homicidal thoughts, and a 14-year-old is provoking you to end her then and there, so because I have Jesus in my heart, I quietly and calmly replaced those ONE AND A HALF FREAKING INCH BINDERS on the shelf, and told her quietly and calmly that we would NOT be buying her school supplies that day, and turned and wheeled my buggy to the front of the store, where I paid for my sweet, cooperative little ten-year-old’s supplies, AND SUSIE’S WELL-EARNED NEMO FOLDER AND WATERCOLORS, yay Susie, and we all loaded up into the car and left.
I was mad, I’m not gonna lie, and in my anger I did not curse.
But with my blood simmering, driving away from the store, I went OVERBOARD bragging on Susie:
“Susie, THANK YOU for being SO sweet, and obeying, and being cooperative, and being a JOY and a BLESSING to your whole family. THANK YOU.
“And thank YOU, Annie, for being SO sweet, and obeying, and being cooperative, and being a JOY and a BLESSING to your whole family. THANK YOU.”
And I just let the silence hang there in the air for a few moments, letting it become CLEAR that I would NOT be thanking the teenager for being a joy NOR a blessing, just, you know, letting that sink in, in silence.
And then Susie pipes up and says, “And thank YOU, Kate, for being RUDE.”
We all fell over laughing hysterically for the second time that day.
All’s well that ends well.
Fast forward half a day, after a certain teenager had texted her friends and found out that, amazingly enough, HER MOM WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE BINDERS, and she offered up a sheepish apology, and me being so full of the Holy Spirit and love, joy, peace, patience and all, forgave her quickly, and we moved on.
But we still haven’t bought her school supplies, and won’t be, until she fulfills certain obligations that she brought upon herself by her rudeness there in the school supply aisle.
And if not, I can always go buy her the school supplies with the puppies and kittens, or maybe a binder with Justin Bieber on the front… 1 1/2″ wide, of course.
Mom always wins in the end, after all.