Clean Up in Aisle One.

Clean Up in Aisle One.

We were standing there, Nathan and I, watching a puddle of Ice Blue Gatorade form between us.

Time sort of slows down when you’re watching a bottle flip through the air and bounce out of a child’s hands, especially when you’re standing in the unusually crowded rice aisle as it happens.

We were over in the rice aisle because we were getting my third “one last thing” of the shopping trip. We stopped at the store for a few things on our way home work/school, but neither of us really wanted to be there. We were snipping and sniping at each other from the moment I picked him up at the sitter and I regretted not going straight home almost instantly.

Nathan had dropped the bottle of Gatorade, the one he begged for and I acquiesced, on the way from the dairy aisle to the rice aisle which was all the way on the other end of the store. I said something about him being lucky it didn’t break. He told me it hadn’t broken the first time he’d dropped it which was on his way from the Gatorade aisle to the dairy aisle where he’d met me. I sighed because I’d run out of things to say.

I’d had to wait for him there in the dairy aisle because he didn’t remember where he was supposed to meet me. I stood impatiently near the yogurt for almost five minutes before he finally appeared. He had made me nervous. I was aggravated with him. I was, admittedly, aggravated by everything that day, but he wasn’t helping.

So when he dropped it the third time, I was unsympathetic. He was holding something in his other hand at the time, but that didn’t stop him from flipping the bottle around carelessly. I’d asked him to stop but he did not. And then he dropped it. He made an excuse about his hands being full. I’d have ripped my own hair out if I wasn’t carrying about five things myself.

Two hands, two things, right? Why was that hard for him? Why couldn’t he listen to me? Why couldn’t he accept responsibility?

Why couldn’t he stop acting like the ten-year-old he is?

When the bottle hit the floor and the top popped off and the Gatorade started spilling out, time paused for me but not for the flow of liquid. It must have for Nathan, too, because he didn’t move. My hands were still full and his, now, were definitely not and yet he just stood there.

Like someone pushed play on the film reel of my life, time resumed moving and caught up with me. The Gatorade puddle still grew. Nathan still did not move.

It came out faster and louder and angrier than I’d intended: DAMN IT, NATHAN, PICK IT UP!

I stunned him back into action and he picked up the bottle, dripping Ice Blue Gatorade into the puddle. Just like you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube, you can’t put Gatorade back in the bottle either.

He started to cry. Everyone was staring. I asked some looky-loo employee who was hovering around to help. I asked him nicely, I think. Nicely for the crazy lady screaming at her kid at least. He said he’d take care of it and motioned for the bottle, which I took from Nathan and handed over. He told us it was okay, we could just go, and it was fine, really. So we headed to check out and headed home.

That was two months ago. It wasn’t the first time I’d lost my shit lately and it wasn’t the last.

Every day, he climbs into my lap, something he’s far too big to keep doing, and tells me he loves me. I’m pretty sure I deserve that about as much as he deserved to get yelled at for spilling a stupid bottle of Gatorade, but thank goodness he’s far more forgiving of me than I am of myself.

16 Responses to “Clean Up in Aisle One.”

  1. Parul Thakur says:

    That’s sweet of you to share that story. I have heard that parents are more hard on themselves than the kids actually remember. At the same time, I also see the message you are trying to send out there. A good personal story, Michelle.

  2. I make a practice of apologizing to my kids when I lose my shit. I wait until I’m ready to make it a sincere and calm and loving apology. Thanks for making me realize that while I may feel like a Momster some of the time, I have a tribe of Momsters to help me feel less freakish and try harder.

  3. Stacie says:

    Why do kids flip Gaterade bottles? Why? Both of my boys did that too. I love how you can turn such a brief moment into a story.

  4. saroful says:

    My dude is 40 and he still flips the fucking gatorade bottle, NO MATTER HOW OFTEN HE DROPS IT. I love the way your writing kept circling back – it really kept us in that emotional spiral with you, up until the yell, which – in that moment – felt like a perfectly reasonable response.

  5. Yes. Stop doing A. Stop doing A. Stop doing B. I have told my husband lately that I should just record and press play. I lose my shit too, especially after the 20th “mom!” in 20 seconds.

  6. iasoupmama says:

    Universal. I apologize to my kidlets daily for being an asshole about something or other. Because they’re pretty much normal and so am I. And so are you.

    • They really know how to push us to our limits, right? And then right past those limits. I guess with everything being like a pressure cooker lately, it’s easy to explode. I’m glad I’m not the only one though.

  7. Christine says:

    I hear you 100%. If it’s not a Gatorade bottle, it’s an apple core. A snack bowl full of goldfish. A tub full of legos. A leaky water bottle. I have the hardest time dealing with boys and their constant fidgeting.

    • The other day we were in the same store and he was fiddling with something and I told him to stop and he said I didn’t understand but he just couldn’t not do something with his hands. So I suggested he bring one of his 50,000 fidget spinners and he acted like I was out of my mind. So, there you go. Kids. Sigh.

  8. Ram Murali says:

    Michelle – that was a wonderful exhibition of “show, don’t tell.” Your storytelling was vivid, with healthy doses of unforced humor and understated sentiment (esp. towards the end).
    I loved your descriptions such as “third ‘one last thing'” and your interaction with the employee.
    Very well done! Kudos!


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