“Nooooo!!! I yant CHEETOS!!” They aren’t Cheetos, but there are no battles of logic with a 20-month-old. They are the grossest bag of generic weirdo-brand bacon cheddar hot fries that I’ve ever seen.
“Let’s get…these chips…” I try quiet horse-whisper-bribery, which angers her further.
“Nooooooo!” She squeezes the bag so hard with passionate angry-love, I do think the cellophane seal might pop.
“Okay okay…release!” I finangle the bag from her grip. Her moist hands streak across the bag producing the syncopated stuttering of poorly strung bow.
So we carry Tito’s acid-burp bacon chem-fries around the store. I say “we,” but I mean *I* carry them and I carry…Clara because she insisted on walking instead of riding in a cart but then got tired…and Clara’s giant baby doll because she couldn’t possibly leave her in the van…
Oh annnd…the other 7 items I collect while Keith waits with our cart on 8 deli employees to take 20-min to slice him 1-lb of roast beef…alternately speaking to each other about their break times, avoiding direct eye contact with customers, occasionally asking him if someone helped him, and forgetting what thickness he wanted. Holding up pieces of meat…this? Like this? How’s this slice? …and this one?
My bra is too tight, it is about 7:45pm, I am thinking–why did we wait so long before having supper? I am thinking–the minivan ride home is going to be horrendous with the defiant mood Clara is in. I am thinking–how am I going to sneak these laxative Cheetos out of her sight? I am thinking–what if we have to buy them and she eats them…and then digests them and then…!? I was thinking–Calgon!
I am thinking–
“You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” (On the Waterfront) <back of hand to forehead in dramatic pose>
Then as I feel my bicep slowly sinking into the abyss of defeat, I feel Clara’s arms wrap around my head…she kisses my cheek a couple of times without me asking, “Love you…Mommy.”
Strength returns to my arm, to my heart. A life of purpose.
Worth it. It’s all worth it.
…I didn’t buy them, and deep down I know she appreciates it.