A friend recently told me that smart children are more challenging to parent. The subtext being ‘more challenging to parent than non-smart children.’
It had been a particularly trying day with the cherubs, so I happily latched on to this ‘theory’ that my parenting woes were a direct result of my children’s incredibly high intelligence quotients.
I took the boys to see Madagascar 3 today. As we hopped in the van, the ‘working’ professor remarked that the polo-shirt-wearing Hen looked like a lacrosse player. ‘What’s lacrosse?’ the Hen asked after buckling his seatbelt. ‘I think it’s a game they play in Medicine Hat,’ his older brother speculated. [‘Medicine Hat’ being a town three hours southeast of Calgary; most recently newsworthy because of a rat infestation.]
I drove the crew to the movie theater, while my backseat drivers kept hounding me about the time. ‘How many more minutes?’ ‘Are we late?’ ‘Are we going to be late?’ ‘We’re going to be late’.
Even though we plopped into our seats exactly one minute before the show started. ‘What’s going on?’ the Gort asked pointing to the blank screen.’ ‘We’re early,’ I explained to my confused son who has only ever walked into darkened theaters five or ten minutes after the movie started.
After the movie I thought I’d continue the fun by taking the crew to Costco. As we drove towards my ‘favorite’ warehouse, I noticed downtown seemed shrouded in a cloudy haze. ‘What’s going on?’ I wondered aloud. Rhetorically. ‘Maybe someone left their hot tub on,’ the Gort offered.
Because unattended hot tubs have been known to cause massive cloudy hazes enveloping entire skylines.
We pulled into a parking spot at Costco and I loaded the two youngest boys in a shopping cart. As we made our way through the parking lot, I passed another mom with two very small children sitting in her cart. The oldest one was…screaming.
‘Man, am I glad those days are over,’ I thought to myself whilst herding my reasonable and mature offspring into the store.
And then the Hen’s feet touched the concrete floor and suddenly – inexplicably – he found himself unable to walk without running or jumping. Or both. And Percy lay down inside the germy cart, still half asleep from his car-nap. And an old man pushing his cart past our spectacle watched with wide eyes whilst I lectured my traceur-in-training. Unsuccessfully.
Fearing the fruit snack samples had rendered them insane, I banned the boys from ingesting any additional freebies. Only to turn around as the Hen shoved a Veggie chip in his mouth. I gave him the ‘did you just take a food sample after I told you you couldn’t have one’ look. ‘I didn’t get it from there,’ he pointed to the sample station, ‘I got it from here,’ he pointed to a random shelf.
Yes, my one-day-away-from-turning-five-year-old had eaten someone else’s discarded chips.
‘Can we get these chips?’ he held up a very large bag of veggie chips. ‘Nope,’ I refused and walked on. Only to discover that my newly-three-year-old boy was imitating me from the confines of his cart-bed.
‘Can we get these crackers? Nope! Can we get these chips? Nope!’
After weaving through various aisles, I found the magazine section. Envisioning a Calgon-take-me-away moment with the Vogue September issue and a glass of wine, I parked my cart and walked the five paces to the magazines. After determining that there was no Vogue, no September issue, I walked back to my cart where two boys were waiting for me.
The Gort was nowhere to be seen.
I suppressed panicky news-headline-induced thoughts that some crazy person had abducted my eight year old son in the Costco tuna and mayonnaise aisle, and called his name. Once. Twice. No Gort anywhere. I scanned the book section in case my literary giant had wandered over to look at the three-packs of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
I called his name again. Once. Twice. And finally, with my myopic, eyeglass-less eyes, I spotted what appeared to be a blond head hiding behind a shelf whilst spying on me.
‘I was just waiting for you,’ he explained ‘nonchalantly’ when I asked why he was hiding from me; ignoring my audible attempts to summon him.
After loading tomatoes in my cart, I announced we were done and proceeded towards the checkout. ‘Can we just look at the toys, just for a minute?’ the Gort begged. And for reasons I will never understand, I agreed.
While he stood there trying to convince me to buy him a Lego advent calendar (in August!), Percy managed to dislodge a boxed set containing a Mater and McQueen car. ‘I want this,’ he demanded, walking towards me with the rectangular box. ‘No, we’re not buying toys today,’ I attempted to disabuse him of the idea. ‘I want this for my birthday,’ he barked. ‘You already got presents for your birthday,’ I reminded.
And then there was screaming. And then he plopped down in the middle of the aisle, blocking another wide-eyed man’s passage.
As I sat down on the display model brown leather sofa consoling the unconsolable while the energizer bunny plowed into the cushion next to me, I calmed myself with visions of the dresses I would wear to the three Nobel Prize dinners in my future.