Silence Of The Teddies

, , , , , , | Related | October 31, 2017

Our grandsons spent the night with us recently. At one point, their play was getting a little rowdy, but not quite to the point I needed to stop whatever was going on. Then, it got quiet, which, as every parent knows, is a sign the kids need to be checked on. Before I could do so, the older boy came running into the living room and dove under a blanket.

A few seconds later, his brother’s voice came from the hall: “Come out now, or I’ll tear this teddy bear’s head off.”

Turning It Into A Soap Opera

, , , , , | Related | October 31, 2017

(I walk past the bathroom to see my nearly-four-year-old climbing on the sink to turn on the faucet. She sees me in the mirror.)

Daughter: “I’m going to wash my hands by myself!”

Me: *so proud* “Okay!”

(I get into the next room and it’s not been five seconds.)

Daughter: “DADDY! I NEED YOU TO PUMP THE SOAP!”

Saved By Play Time

, , , , | Hopeless | October 22, 2017

(I am shopping in a department store with my five-year-old daughter. It has been a long, stressful day at work, and I have been on edge since picking her up from school. I just want to get my things and get home as soon as possible. I very quickly realize that my daughter is no longer beside me, and I go into Panic-Mom Mode. I call her name and rush around the aisles, until, finally, I see her sitting down on the floor next to a similar-aged boy, talking and playing. She looks up and me and beams a smile.)

Me: “[Daughter], what did I tell you about walking away from Mommy?!”

Daughter: “Mommy, this is [Boy]. He’s five, too!”

Me: “That’s nice, [Daughter], but remember, we don’t have time to play today.”

Daughter: “Okay. Bye, [Boy]!”

Boy: *big flashing smile* “Byyyyye!”

(I take my daughter’s hand and quickly finish up my shopping list.)

Daughter: “Can we get something for [Boy]?”

Me: “No, [Daughter]. We’re just here for a few quick things, remember?”

Daughter: “I know, but he doesn’t have anyone or anything to play with.”

Me: “His mom will take him home soon, so he won’t be bored for too long.”

Daughter: “No, she won’t.”

(This makes me stop, and I realize for the first time, to my shame, that the boy was all alone.)

Me: “What do you mean?”

Daughter: “His mom told him to wait for her, but she’s been gone for aaaaaages.”

(Knowing I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t go back and check, I find the boy in the exact same space that I left him.)

Me: “Hello, [Boy].”

Boy: *big beaming smile again* “Hiiiii!”

Me: “Where’s your mommy?”

Boy: *smile drops* “I don’t know. She went to look at clothes.”

Me: “How long ago did she go to look at clothes?”

Boy: “A while.”

(Knowing he probably didn’t have a good grasp of timing, I don’t know how to gauge this, but I pursue anyway.)

Me: “Do you know what time it was?”

Boy: “Since school.”

(That is a long time, but it wouldn’t be the first time a parent has left a child alone to play in a store for over an hour. I sit with the boy for another ten minutes while he plays a rhyming game with my daughter. I flag down a passing member of staff and let them know this boy has been left alone for almost an hour and a half.)

Employee: “Actually, yes, I do remember them coming in. That was closer to two hours ago.” *suddenly looking shameful* “Let’s bring him up to the customer service desk, and I’ll make an announcement through the store PA.”

(We do just that. The boy says he was told not to go anywhere with strangers, but my daughter takes his hand and convinces him that they’re now friends, so it is okay. The employee makes an announcement to the store, letting the mother know that [Boy] is at the customer service desk, and asking her to please make her way there immediately. After ten minutes, and no appearance of the mother, the employee makes a repeat announcement. Ten minutes after this…)

Me: “What happens now?”

Employee: “I’ve called my manager. They’ll call the police or social services, I guess.”

(A few minutes later, there is a scream from the other side of the floor. There is a scramble of employees to the area. An employee comes back over to me and speaks quietly to me so that the boy doesn’t hear.)

Employee: “We found a woman collapsed in one of the changing rooms. We think it might be his mom.”

(Very quickly, paramedics are on the scene, but I am focusing on keeping the boy occupied, playing with my daughter. He’s not stupid though, and he’s realizing that something is up. Almost three hours after I first met the boy, a woman walks over to us with a concerned look on her face. The manager has told her who I am and how I’ve been looking after the boy. She introduces herself as being from social services.)

Social Services Worker: “We found his mother collapsed in the changing room. The paramedics are about to take her to hospital, and I will be going there, too, with her son.”

(She then explains to the boy what has happened, in an age-appropriate manner. The boy is very upset, and holds my hand through the whole conversation. When the social services worker tries to encourage the boy to go to the hospital, he squeezes my hand even tighter and gives me a desperate look.)

Me: *to the social services worker* “Would I be able to come with [Boy]””

(The woman looks at me, then at the boy, assesses the situation, and smiles.)

Social Services Worker: “Of course. I will need to be present at all times, of course.”

(We all drove to the hospital together, and my daughter kept the boy occupied with some simple back-seat car games. We ended up spending the evening in the hospital, and the boy’s mother made a full recovery. She had been running a fever and collapsed from an infection. Our kids are now good friends and have grown up to become teenage “besties,” all thanks to my daughter’s playful spirit, and a well-behaved boy who wouldn’t stop waiting for his mom.)

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Need A Fresh(man) Way To Test Your Staff

, , , , , | Right | October 19, 2017

(I’ve just started college, and am working a register, when a kid who looks to be about 14 sets a six-pack of beer on the counter. Our store has partnered with the state to send “testers” through random cashiers’ lines to make sure we are only selling liquor to those over 21.)

Me: “Can I… help you?”

Kid: “Yeah, give me the beer.”

(I glance down at the logo on his shirt and fight back a grin.)

Me: “Nope. Not a chance, kid. Get out.”

Kid: “Good job! You passed your test!”

Me: “No offense, kid, but I saw that one coming a mile away.”

Kid: *genuinely surprised* “But I was convincing! I’m a good actor! How did you know?”

Me: *points at his shirt* “[High School] mascot. I graduated from there last year. And your shirt has your grad year on it, freshman.”

Kid: “DANG IT!”

(It still counted as a pass, and I got commended by my manager!)

That’s The Way The Kveldsmat Krumbles

, , , , , | Related | October 18, 2017

(My daughter is four years old and it is evening. All that remains is for her to brush her teeth and go to bed. She tries to stay up late by making up credible stuff to postpone the evening routine. I find it easier to call her bluff than arguing and trying to reason with her, because it ends in almost an hour of tears and sobbing. In Norway, we offer a small meal in the evening, and it often consists of a slice of bread with some kind of spreading or topping. We call it “kveldsmat” — evening food. On this day, we’ve had a late dinner and she declined kveldsmat 30 minutes earlier.)

Daughter: “I’m hungry. Can I have some kveldsmat?”

Me: “If you’re really hungry, we have to go downstairs and eat, but we can’t watch TV because it’s evening now.”

Daughter: “I’m so hungry that I need to have some grapes.”

(Our rule is that she can eat fruit upstairs, but other food must be eaten at the dinner table. She clearly wants to keep watching TV and postpone bed time by eating her grapes VERY slowly, then demanding more when she is still hungry.)

Me: *repeats myself* “Are you ready to go downstairs and eat, or shall we just brush your teeth right away?”

Daughter: “I’m ready. I want to go downstairs and eat.”

(We go downstairs and end up discussing the topping on her slice of bread.)

Me: “Are you sure you want to have butter and brown cheese?” *Norwegian thing, quite tasty*

Daughter: “Yes. And cut it into pieces.”

Me: *prepares the food and cuts it in four*

Daughter: *picks off the brown cheese* “I don’t want this. Take it off.”

Me: “Oh? But you said you wanted it.”

Daughter: “But I don’t like it now…”

Me: “Okay, but just take off the one on this piece and leave the rest. You can pick them off once you’ve eaten the first piece of bread.”

Daughter: *enters defiant-play mode and picks off the brown cheese of two pieces*

Me: *leaves the one piece of bread and moves the plate out of her reach* “Eat that one, then you can take off the rest. Just one at the time.”

Daughter: “Nooooooooo! I want to pick it!

Me: *not taking the bait* “You said you were hungry. You said you wanted brown cheese, and you were only allowed take off the brown cheese on one piece. Eat the one right there, and we can go brush your teeth.”

Daughter: “I’m not hungry!”

Me: “You said you were hungry, and you wanted to go downstairs. You don’t get anything else to eat until breakfast tomorrow. Eat this one and we’re done.”

Daughter: “Two bites?”

Me: “All of it.”

(She ate three bites of that quarter of a slice of bread before declaring herself full again, then went happily back upstairs to proceed the evening routine. She effectively postponed it seven minutes, rather than crying herself to sleep because she didn’t get to eat when she asked.)

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