One of the questions I'm sometimes asked by moms with only one or two kids is, "How do you ever make time for all of them?" Good question. Each child does need some one-on-one time with mom (and dad). They shouldn't have to share our "undivided" attention all the time. Occasionally, it really should be undivided- lol. One of the ways I've dealt with this over the years is through the implementation of a "Special Day Out" with Mom. I take one kid at a time to go somewhere with me. Often, we'll go out to lunch and a movie. A fun shopping day appeals to the girls. Sometimes, it's as simple as tagging along on a trip to Walmart and getting to choose a little toy and go for ice cream or something afterwards. To me, it's about connecting with them and creating nice memories, more than it is about where we went or how much money was spent. I'm not sure the kids would say the same thing, though. To them, it may very well be all about the bucks!
There comes a day, of course, when the kids stop wanting or needing their special days with me. Coincidentally, that day comes about 48 hours before they start talking to good ole mom as if she is a stupid idiot who is merely an unnecessary intrusion into their lives. It's a sad, sad day. Boys must turn into men, I understand that. And as they've grown, the older boys' special days with me dwindle as they naturally gravitate more towards their dad, to do Manly Things. Reaching out to hold mommy's hand or wanting special time with mom is replaced with... everything else. Other stuff. Man stuff. That's life as it should be. Maybe the Pulling Away won't be as abrupt or drastic with the girls, I don't know.
Yesterday was Tucker's turn for his special day. He's going to be 10 soon, so I am acutely aware that my turn with him could be fading in the near future, which makes each opportunity to spend time with him all the more precious. We went out to lunch at his favorite spot, then went to see Kung Fu Panda. Both were his choice.
This is where I should probably stop to remind you guys I'm hearing impaired. It will figure into our story here in just a minute. I'm deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other. It's not a big deal and my kids learn early on that Mama has a "good side" and a "deaf side." Being out in public places makes hearing a little more difficult because there are so many other sounds, all vying for half an ear's worth of hearing. If I want to hear something clearly, it's really important for the sound to be coming in on my "good side." If unwanted background sounds are the closest to me, "taking up" my good ear, I won't be able to hear what I want to hear. Make sense?
Anyhoo... We got to the theater a few minutes late and it was pretty full. This made choosing the ideal seats for Mom's ears pretty difficult. We took what we could get, so I was seated right next to two teenage girls. Aw, Geez. There was a mom with two toddlers directly behind me. Crap. There goes any chance of hearing the movie.
Oh, Yeah. This had the makings of a perfect afternoon. Just perfect.
The toddlers quickly took the lead as the major joy killers. One was a constant whiner- i.e. "NoOOOoo. I wannnn dowWWwn." One was a chair-kicker. Thump, thump, THUMP in my back every few seconds. Then she decided to stand. The kicking thankfully stopped for a second, but unfortunately, she chose to stand directly behind me, with her little hands on the back of my chair, trying to move it back and forth as best she could. Her mother apparently approved of all of this much more than I did. I kept turning half-way to look back over my shoulder, trying to show my COMPLETE AND UTTER DISGUST, but nobody was picking up on it. She was also a singer. After seeing the preview for the next Madagascar movie, she started singing "I wike to move it, move it. I wike to move it, move it. I wike to..." Over and over and o-OH MY GOSH, SOMEBODY PLEASE SHUT HER UP RIGHT NOW. Again, this is taking place directly behind my head- the obnoxious, monotone little song being the only sound my good ear can pick up, and the movie has started by this time. She did finally shutup. As soon as she started coughing. Into my hair. I could feel her little hot bursts of breath hitting the top of my head. Then, I kid you not, something plunked down on my head during one of the coughs.
"Dear God in heaven, please. I beseech you. Whatever it is that this
It did not disappear. I reached up and felt some soggy, semi-solid thing. I'm telling myself it was just a little bit of popcorn, but I refused to give myself a visual, so I can't be sure. Even so, telling yourself you have a partially masticated, possibly regurgitated piece of popcorn sitting atop your head brings surprisingly little comfort. The Popcorn Projector begins telling her mom she has to pee. Oh, thank you, God. They are leaving, if only for a moment. But, no. Before they can go, the mother feels it would be best to argue with the kid about having to pee.
I begin to dislike this child's mother. God forgive me. This is the fervent, passionate level of dislike that no decent, Bible-obeying Christian should feel (or at least publicly admit to). The kind of dislike that one usually reserves for someone like... Oh, Hitler, maybe? But I can't seem to help myself.
"Please say you're kidding me," the mother says.
"No." Says the Imp.
Tell me you don't have to go to the bathroom right now," says the mom.
"I do. I have to go potty." Says Coughing Kicker.
Back and forth they go like this for so long that they could have gone to the flippin' john and returned by now. But, wait. The mom has one last gem up her sleeve: "G*d**mmit!!!!" She says, then jerks herself and the kids up out of their seats, thumping my back as often as possible, to go to the bathroom.
"Lord, I've never asked you to allow the ground to open up and swallow someone before, but as you can see, these are special circumstances..."
During the Demonic Trio's bathroom break was when I began to notice the real problem.
The teenager next to me. Her laugh. Oh. My. Gosh. Her laugh. It was like nothing I've ever heard before. To begin with, it didn't happen at appropriate times. She would laugh when there was NOTHING to laugh at. OFTEN. Second, she had this incredibly annoying "Sob Laugh" that actually sounded like crying. Third, and most annoying, her laugh repeated the same pattern over and over and o-OH MY GOSH, SOMEBODY PLEASE SHUT HER UP RIGHT NOW. I mean, it was the same exact rhythm, pattern, and number of little sobs each and every single time, like a taped laugh running on a continuous loop. I will be hearing that horrid little sob laugh in my nightmares for years to come. In addition, she added occasional commentary that was quite useful to me, since all of this was filling up my "good ear" so that I could not hear the movie. Here are a few of her golden nuggets of wisdom, to help you get a sense of the excitement in the film:
- "Jeh-Heh-less!" This means, "jealous." She said this anytime two of the characters were in conflict with each other. Which was a lot.
- "Ohhh! Tha's DOPE!" Slight variation: "Yeaaah. Tha's Duh-HOPE!"
- "Awwwwwww." Another word she repeated OFTEN. And, once again, it was said with the exact same rhythm each time. This was her way of showing sympathy or sorrow for a character in the movie. Too bad she didn't feel sorry for me. I was crying right next to her. She probably couldn't tell over the sound of her own sob laughs.
Each time The Sobbing Laugher said something, I was dying to remind her that this is, after all, A FREAKING CARTOON, there's no need to commiserate with computer-animated animals. At least not quite so loud. But I didn't say anything. To any of them. I kept my mouth shut. Yay for me.
This is how it went for the rest of the movie, so I don't really know how Kung Fu Panda was. Tucker seemed to like it, though.
At one point, Sobbing Laugher kind of half-tapped/half-smacked my arm. Pretty hard. I thought this is IT. I'm ready to tell her exactly what I think of her. Her laugh. Her comments. Just HER, period. This IS it. This is my moment. I feel it coming. I'm going to take a stand for put-upon movie-goers everywhere. I'm going to have some backbone for once and kindly suggest she either learn to have a little consideration for others and sit still and shutup or just get out. And after I'm done with her, I'm going to turn and tell the Family From Hades what I think of them! I'm ready to go Kung Fu Panda on the whole mess of 'em! But I steady myself. I'm controlled, but ready. I turn to look at The Laugher, accidentally glaring at her instead... It's the adrenaline.
She sweetly said, "Umm. I think you just dropped your phone."
Which I did. Crap.
"Thank you," I said, picking up my phone.
Apparently, this was not my moment.
After the show was over, we went upstairs to the arcade where Tucker wanted to spend his $3.00. It only took about four minutes to do so, because... I want to say this in the nicest, most maternal way possible... because Tucker chooses games that are slightly beyond his skill level. It doesn't take all that long for each game to be over. Ya gettin' me?
As we were walking out to the car afterwards, Tucker reached for my hand and said, "Thank you, Mama. I had a lot of fun with you today."
See? I told you. It was a perfect afternoon. Just perfect.