By Kylie Ardill
It's raining out, the rain smacks
at the window like pellets popping from a child's
toy pistol. Chink, chink, chink...
I have to go to the store and get
milk, simple enough task, but my husband is home and
that complicates the matter somewhat. Our
two-year-old, Samuel, will want to come with me.
He'll also want to stay home with Daddy. A parental
dilemma waiting to erupt.
I stand at the kitchen window
while Samuel sits on the bench next to me putting
small coins back in the money box and then demanding
that I empty them out again so he can begin his
routine over. I watch the rain spatter at the window
listening to the alternate chink of it's drops and
the coins hitting the bottom of the money box,
knowing that I will again be called to emptying duty
Broken from my trance I look
across at my husband Joseph, who sits on the lounge
watching Titanic, and mouth the words "I have to go
to the shops". Irritated he mouths back "What for?".
"Milk" is my silent response.
He's irritated because we both
know this will upset the peace that's descended upon
our house this afternoon. It's rare for Sam to play
contentedly alone, and Joseph is enjoying his movie.
Taking a slow, deliberate breath I
look at Sam and he catches my eye. Those stunning,
huge, brown eyes looking at me with expectation --
eyes just like Daddy's. I sigh, and then "Hey
sweetie, having fun? Mommy's going to the shops, do
you want to come with me?"
"NO!" he boldly proclaims. I look
at Joseph who shrugs and I slowly pick up my keys
Turning the door knob slowly, I
jar open the front door with it's cream back and
cracked burgundy front and cringe as I hear the wail
Ugh! Here we go, "OK, want to come
with Mommy now?"
"YES! Shops please."
"OK Mr Monster, jump down and
we'll go the the shops!"
Prying the door open again, taking
a breath, knowing what's about to come.
Halfway in and halfway out the
door, Sam screams "WANT DADDY!"
And here we sit, want Daddy, want
Mommy -- Daddy and Mommy going in different
directions. After 5 minutes of this dilemma playing
itself out in the mind, and very loud voice, of our
toddler I finally pull out my trump card, "Mommy
will get you a surprise."
Sam looks up at me, eyebrows high,
eyes sparkling with anticipation, "Chocolate?" he
"Maybe, Come with me and we'll see
if they have any."
And he does, readily climbing into
the car, waving a vigorous goodbye to Daddy with a
smile and a wink proudly announcing, "Bye, Bye
Daddy. Get chocolate now.". As bold and proud as you
As I drive to the stores I wonder
how this happened. In a void of time between the
pregnancy test turning pink and this moment, I've
allowed myself to slip into this routine of bribery
and treats just to perform the most mundane tasks of
life in peace. I cannot do the grocery shopping
without first indulging Sam in a milkshake and
donut, driving past McDonalds is a nightmare and so
I drive the long way so as to avoid it or we go in.
Depending on the time frame I have to get to where
Buying milk means also buying
chocolate of some kind or, on a hot day, a popsicle.
Picking up the paper on the way home means an
ice-cream or small junk toy -- with which my car is
How did this happen? This isn't
the kind of parent I was going to be. This isn't the
kind of diet I want my son to have and this wasn't
what I had in mind for basic trips to the store for
the rest of my life.
Somewhere, somehow -- I've slipped
into this routine and I don't like it. But what
scares me more is the process involved in ceasing
it, the firm and confident "No chocolate" or "No
toy" or, heaven forbid "No McDonald's, we're just
driving past." I'm not sure I have the energy.
And so, driving to the store for
my milk and regular chocolate hostage -- held for
the price of peace -- the guilt sets in. I am a bad
mother, or if not bad, at least not that great. Who
would allow their child this luxury every trip to
the store, if only the store stocked healthy snacks,
maybe then it wouldn't be so bad. And it goes on.
When we arrive and get my milk and
allow Sam his treat I think that maybe tomorrow I'll
start to tame the pattern, if I get a good nights
sleep. If I get through the night without a toddler
waking at 2am and then 4am and then again for the
day with engines running full pace at 6am.
I approach the counter just
slightly ahead of another mother who loads her goods
to the counter next to mine -- milk, chocolate bar,
lollipop complete with spinning Buzz Lightyear
holder and a packet of Star Wars potato chips --
while her three children stand dutifully behind her.
Sam eyes them, I look at the
mother and smile. We take our chocolate hostages to
our respective cars both smiling, knowingly, at the