Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Mozzarella Stick Incident

If you have children, you know that each child is an unique and precious gift. It's amazing to watch them grow and develop their individual talents.

Foremost among my kids' varied accomplishments, is their virtuosity in the art of whining, each having spent many years perfecting their craft. (I believe the eldest is now teaching a master class in the subject during recess.)

And we had been at the Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival for about three hours with nary a complaint from either of them.

If my children continued their stellar behavior, it could only mean that a wormhole had opened in the time-space continuum and had sent us careening unknowingly into a tangent universe. Therefore, our kids needed to act up - and fast!- lest we find the universe collapsing into itself. (If you don't understand, rent Donnie Darko.)

Eldest daughter readily complied, with what I like to call...

THE MOZZARELLA STICK INCIDENT (feel free to act this out at home)

Scene: Aging New Age Mom approaches a festival food station with two young children in tow. She starts to order...

Me: I'd like an order of chicken nuggets and some mozzarella sticks.

Vendor guy: Uh, we're out of marinara sauce

Me (turning to older child): They're out of marinara sauce, do you still want the mozzarella sticks?

Older Child: Marinara Sauce! I want Marinara sauce!

Me: They don't have it -- do you want them anyway or do you want chicken nuggets?

Older child: I want the mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce!

Me (irritated): They're out of marinara sauce. (Emphatically): DO YOU STILL WANT THEM?

Older Child does not answer. Seconds of silence seem like an eternity as the line behind us lengthens.

Me (turning back to vendor): Just give me the chicken nuggets for now.

He does, and the little family group walks over to the dad in another vendor's line.

Older Child: Where's my mozzarella sticks?!?

Me: I didn't get them...

Older Child: (wailing loudly) WAW! WAW!

Me: I thought you didn't want them!

Older Child: I wanted them! I wanted them!

Me: (irritated) I asked you and you didn't answer me. Do you want to share (younger child's) chicken nuggets?
Older Child: Noooooooo! WAW! WAW! I didn't hear you ask me!! WAW! WAW!

Me (extremely irritated tone): Listen -- I would have gotten them for you if you told me you wanted them, but you didn't tell me that...

(I'm half-Italian, therefore genetically incapable of keeping my voice down when agitated.)

So between the venomous tone of my voice and my daughters caterwauling...I suddenly noticed that there were many, many folks waiting in husband's line with nothing better to do than to watch me get mad at my child WHILE SHE WAS CRYING!

To bystanders with no idea that she had completely zoned out on me earlier, no clue that she was a nine-year-old crying over mozzarella sticks for chrissakes, well, to them I just looked like the wicked witch bitching at a sobbing child.

So...I put my arm around her and went back to my patented Nice Mommy voice. Said, "Fine, I'll get you the mozzarella sticks just like I was going to anyway, but you need to calm down first."* And she did.

"But," I said (only half-joking), "let's go to another guy to order who won't recognize us!"

So we approach the booth...order from a different dude. (Who also tells us they're out of marinara sauce.)

Then the original vendor dude turns around and spots us, and with a smile on his face says, "You're back!"

Oh, we do like to make a big impression.

Epilogue: She didn't even like the mozzarella sticks ("too much cheese" as if that's possible) but she ate a couple and didn't whine or complain or ask for anything else.

*Parenting 101: Please do not confuse my compliance with me caving in to a child's temper tantrum. That is something that I do not do. If the issue were ice cream or anything of that nature, she could have cried until she vomited and bystanders were literally throwing daggers at me and I would not have given in. However, since I had fully intended to buy said sticks in the first place, her calming down was all the compliance I needed. Thank you very much.


At June 07, 2006 11:35 PM, Blogger Spencer said...

The non-parent reading your blog regularly will choose not to comment. ;)

At June 08, 2006 1:14 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Sometime reader, first time responder here (I'm on the michaelpennlist): When our kids were small, my wife and I had the following mantra: we do not negotiate with terrorists. So I applaud your instinct on these matters and even agree (as if you care) that your nine-year-old's tears don't amount to a case of terroristic threatening. Rather it was more like dealing with the French: you have to put up with some irrationality before you both get what you want.

At June 09, 2006 9:23 AM, Blogger Cyn said...

Spencer -- One day, day, you may find yourself faced with a similar dilemma. And it is only then that you will understand.

Tom -- I DO care...need all the support I can get in these tenuous parenting matters.

I like your "no negotiating with terrorists" thing. Excellent comparison.

So I'm thinking about learning some French to better communicate with my children -- but maybe only curse words...since I can't swear in English in front of my children -- merde!

At June 09, 2006 9:35 AM, Blogger Spencer said...

Oh - understand. When I was in high school, my older sister moved back home with her son. Then my younger sister did the same with her daughter while I was in college (living at home also). I've seen it all first hand, but for me it's fleeting - as know I get to go home. One day I probably won't be able to.

I'll enjoy it will I can. My boss said this to me a couple of weeks ago - "marriage is nothing. it's the kids that kill you." Whenever I hear parents talking about having a third kid as being "outnumbered" that says it all.

At June 09, 2006 6:59 PM, Blogger Merujo said...

"Too much cheese." Beautiful.

We'll have to find her "Not-so-rella Sticks." Now, with less cheese!

Some days, I don't know how my mother, with nine kids in tow, didn't climb a bell tower and start shooting...


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