Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ramblings from my attic #96

Expecto Patronum!

We’ve all been there (at least the mortal and imperfect among us). “I want that toy.” “No, we’re here to buy groceries, not toys.” “I WANT THAT TOY!” “No.” “I HATE YOU!”

Vesuvius erupts. You steel yourself to the disapproving glances of the uninitiated and the smug and manage to hold your shrieking tyke down in the child seat of the cart with one arm, unload and pay for your groceries with the other, then flee the store. The shrieking tyke is usually two, weighs 30 pounds or less, and is still gullible to the cheap tricks of distraction.

I have witnessed tantrums. I’ve thrown tantrums. I’ve caused tantrums. Through the wonders of age, wisdom, modern chemistry, and an elder child who has so far survived my parenting, I have found in recent weeks that I have the ability to withstand my six year old’s daily mercurial meltdowns without causing her (or allowing her to inflict on me) bodily harm. But a picnic it ain’t! Fifty pounds or more of raging illogic with teeth is a lot to try to fold into your arms. I have high hopes that consistency, consequences and more sleep will get her back on track.

Meanwhile, I fantasize that in the midst of her meltdowns she has become a Dementor, and all I need to do is master that spectacular spell of Harry’s, “Expecto Patronum!” My own patronus will chase away the soul-sucking dementor and all will be safe and calm at my castle again.*

But reality bites. And kicks and spits and screams. As I piloted the van home from soccer last night with Brooke beside me in the front seat, Lindsay buckled in but raging like a rodeo bull in the middle bench, and two of Brooke’s teammates in the way-back, I wondered what the older kids were thinking. Size one pink suede boots were banging against the back of my seat. Her screams were ear splitting; her wrath tangible. Pulling over was not an option in 7:15pm rush hour traffic on 495 or 66. Out of tricks, I slipped into a numb zone of not reacting. I concentrated on driving and imagined with a sigh that the older kids thought me a failure, a mom at her most lame.

Then Brooke reached for my hand. “Mom,” she whispered. “I’m so proud of you. I don’t think I could stay as calm as you. You’re doing a great job.”

We smiled at each other in the dim light and our hands stayed linked.

* [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling]


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