Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sometimes I'm just here to contain the chaos - Guest Post

Today I have the pleasure of hosting a guest post from Maud - fabulous writer, friend and all round good-egg.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maud is a Dubliner who never intended to have American children. She blogs at Awfully Chipper about baseball, muffins, and the ex-pat experience. Her posts are thoughtful and thought-proking. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but always beautifully written.

Kate gave me a couple of prompts to choose from, because I like direction. They were "Wild" and "Keeping Up Appearances". I started to write this about keeping up appearances, but I think it's gone wild after all.


I had to take the kids with me to do the shopping one day last week, it being the Easter holidays and us having eaten everything in the house. Now, since my number of children is merely two, and they are giant things of 6 and almost-9 years at that, you'd think this would be quite a simple endeavour. And indeed, it's much easier than it used to be; but we should have gone much earlier in the morning all the same. The older they get, the harder it is to bodily force them out of pyjamas and into the car, or bribe them effectively with the idea of a Fun! trip to the supermarket, so here it was practically lunchtime and we were just starting out. They both devoured a bagel on the way round (don't worry; I always pay for any consumed bagels) and spirits were high.

I know from experience that nothing calls attention to rowdy children more than a parent going mental trying to rein them in, and that it's usually the parent, not the children, who ends up looking worse to everyone else. In public, you're actually best off keeping a "ha-ha aren't they adorable" demeanour even if you actually want to throttle them into behaving like automatons. So beyond a few well-placed admonishments and suggestions that they help me find [ginger/red peppers/flour], I tried to ignore them and just be glad everyone was having fun - though by now the the fun was veering worryingly towards hopped-up-on-Twinkies levels. We passed a middle-aged couple on the way down the veg aisle and the man's eyes twinkled as he said with a smile "You know they're just way too cute, don't you?" I told him he could have them, but at least they were happy.

I could tell by the over-hyped happy that we were probably just a few minutes from meltdown. It arrived at the self-checkouts (such hubris even trying that, but the lines for the cashiers were long) when, after Mabel got to press the buttons for three vegetables, I let Dash do the bagels. (We were buying some others, not just weighing the invisible ones.) Sunshine turned to rain in a flash, as it does with my Mabel, and there was shouting and insubordination. Luckily, I suggested she sit in the now empty trolley, and she got in there and hid her face, but continued to yell at us, cruel deniers of button-pushing joy.

We got out, we got into the car, we went home and had lunch. What was my point, exactly? Well, it was to tell the story of our almost-right-up-to-the-end successful trip to the supermarket, but also to illustrate how trying to keep up appearances (having well-behaved kids in the supermarket) tends to backfire, until it doesn't, but you're done for anyway and there's really no graceful exit strategy because children are, to all intents and purposes, wild beings. We are here to civilise them, but it's a long and winding road. They're still a work in progress.

Chaos, personified

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