By Lydia Holt
It was cold and raining―not a pouring rain but a drizzly semi-frozen rain. It was the kind of early spring treat of icy, swirling water droplets that renders umbrellas useless. And there I stood with the plastic-covered stroller, waiting. My five-year-old stood several feet from me and his stroller-cocooned little brother. His arms wrapped around his chest, his face a wall of silence beneath the hood of his coat. He would not be moved. He and one of his school friends had decided they would go to the playground together after school. We, the mothers, had no desire to stand in the rain while they played, got soaked through and proceeded to complain all the way home about how cold they were and how tired. “Sorry, no playground today.” My son switched tack and wanted to go to one and then another friend’s house for a playdate, but they were unavailable. And honestly, I just wanted to get home and out of the rain. All of this perceived rejection left my little man in a deep, indigo, funk from which he refused to be lifted. “I know you’re sad sweetie pie, but it’s raining and cold so lets go on home.” The wall of silence stood firm. “This isn’t any fun, is it? Standing in the rain? Let’s go home ,and you can play Wild Kratts (online).” Nada. Zilch. Nothin’. I was beyond ornery as a child, and this was my comeuppance.
I could hear the soft, hissing laugh of my grandmother, just over my shoulder. I should explain that my maternal grandmother has been gone to Glory nearly eleven years but I often hear her chuckling. Sometimes, I just know she’s pointing and laughing, a la Nelson Muntz of The Simpsons.
When I was a child and my parents and grandmother would trot out that old horse, “You’ll understand when you have kids,” I was so self-centered and blissfully self-unaware that the meaning of the words didn’t fully penetrate my sense that they were just being mean and not understanding my plight. The older my children become and remind me more and more of who I was as a child, the more I wish my parents had just said, flat out, “This is going to come back and bite you in the ass, and it’s not going to be some little mosquito nibbling on your buns but a great white shark tearing your ass in half.”
This isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s his usual response to things not going as he has planned. He gets stuck in the funk, and I usually end up pulling or pushing him all the way home as he screams to let him go or that he doesn’t want to walk. It is at these times that I’m thankful I live in the yuppie, hipster nursery that is Park Slope. For the most part, no one cares that he’s screaming bloody murder, as that was their child only minutes or hours ago. Thankfully, on this occasion, I only had to pull him for a few feet before we reached a puddle. I quickly walked over it, pulling him with me, but he protested that he didn’t get to walk through it. I stopped, and after a little encouragement, he walked back and stomped his rain boots through the puddle for all they were worth.
He walked the rest of the way home, still sullen, but walking. What should have been a three- minute walk felt like it had taken twenty. By the time we got upstairs to our apartment, the emotional clouds had parted, and he was squealing and laughing with his little brother. I didn’t hear anything from my grandmother, but then she was usually quiet when admiring her grandchildren (great-grand in this case), her eyes crinkled in delight.