If It Wasn’t for Love

I know I’ve mentioned my child being strong-willed before and provided a few examples here and there in previous blogs. She’s adorable and tiny and super sweet when she chooses to be. Therefore, oftentimes, her inner evil tyrant avoids detection by the uninitiated; you may be among them. As with all supervillians, my child’s alter ego needed a name. I dubbed her ChaCha Hernandez and in my mind she wears a leather jacket and carries a switchblade at all times a’la The Outsiders meets The Pink Ladies. Her father calls her Thug Baby a’la a petite female Debo from Friday…you get the picture. What I’m about to share with you today will fully introduce you to her and then maybe you too will think of an apt name for her alter-ego. Because today, at Target, was a-whole-nother level of cra-cra she showed me. Let me walk you through the 25 minutes of terrorism I suffered at the hands of my child this evening.

ChaCha in High Fashion. The switchblade concealed in her tulle!

Day camp gets out at 3p and earlier today I’d had some dental work done that resulted in me still having that weird facial numbing that makes it uncomfortable and laborsome to talk. As a compromise to her having to sit around at home with a surly non-talkative mom, I decided to take her to a restaurant with an indoor play place. We stayed for about 2 and a half hours. She ate, played, got ice cream as a treat. We played a game together with the little book that came with her meal. I finished my book on my Kindle and enjoyed my unsweetened tea. It was a pleasant afternoon. I gave her the 10-minute warning that we would be leaving soon. When she asked why, instead of smacking my lips and saying, “because I’m the adult and I said so.” I answered her question by telling her I needed to run to Target before we headed home. She immediately asked if she could get a toy when we got there. I answered firmly but calmly, “No. You’re not getting any toys today.” She, of course, pushed back and began to whine/beg. I cut her off and told her to go finish playing. Upon reflection, I wonder if it was those last 10 minutes alone in the play area that she used to devise her attack strategy. Hmmm…note to self: You broke your own rule to never give any advanced warning (i.e., intel to the enemy). We eventually left the restaurant with no trouble or challenge. I’m feeling good. The Target is directly across the street, it’s mid-rush hour so we should be able to get in and out of the store and then get home with little delay. As soon as we get out of the car, the assault begins.

She starts asking for a specific thing we’d agreed she would get for her birthday. I started off jovially enough in my calm and easy responses to her. But by the time we were approaching the door of the store, she starts making threats of bodily harm. “If you don’t get me a toy, I’m going to rip your arm off!” “If you don’t get me a toy, I’m going to cut your fingers!” “If you don’t get me a toy, I’m going to beat you and then call my dad and have him come drive me home.” (because apparently, she was planning to beat me into unconsciousness!) All the time, she’s giggling a bit and saying it in a funny voice. All the time, I’m lovingly holding her hand and not letting my impending irritation at her disrespectful, if not exaggerated, behavior get to me. I responded mostly with ignoring but then firmly said that was enough, to stop speaking to me that way, and that threats would never work.

I’m guessing, in her mind, she said, “Ohhhh that’s how you wanna play it, lady?” She rolls out her next phase of attack. We get in the store and she tells me she won’t get in the basket unless I agree to buy her something. I don’t engage and simply pick her up to put her in the front of the basket. She locks her legs and stands up on the seat right in the doorway. I look at her, now with my “Little girl, I am NOT playing with you” face and say, calmly and only loud enough for her to hear me, “We can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way. You choose.” One would hope the foolishness was over, right? WRONG. She did comply and was quiet for all of about 45 seconds before she started saying, “If you don’t get me something I’m going to tell everyone in Target you are a thief!” I ignore her again…Note to self: This strategy don’t work, sistah! My ignoring of her leads her to make good on her threat, “NIKKI COLEMAN IS A THIEF!!!” “NIKKI COLEMAN IS A THIEF AND SHE NEEDS TO BE PUT IN JAIL!!” Yes. That is right. She used my whole gov’ment name in the middle of the friggin Target! I tell her to stop yelling, and that it is not ok to say those things. She giggles and proceeds to say it more and louder!

At this point, I am in the zone. The place I go to to get sh!t done. Because if I let it seep in for just a second what this child is saying and doing in this good Target where we are among a handful of Black people, I will literally lose my mind on her. The thing about Crazy Mama Moments is that they aren’t well-received in public, especially by Black women. So, I try to go about getting the 5 — FIVE, people — items I needed and just tried to push her away from me as often as possible when I needed to browse among the aisles. She eventually let go of the thief tactic and was calm-ish for a while. The main reason we needed to go to Target was to get a birthday gift for a party she was invited to on Saturday. I like to involve her in shopping for gifts because I want to instill in her a spirit of altruism and understand that self-denial is also an important characteristic to have. Apparently, today was not the day and she was not the one for altruism. After we were unsuccessful in finding a suitable gift in the toy department, I thought I might be able to find a character t-shirt for the little girl that fit the bill instead. As we approached the clothing section, ChaCha reemerged. This time she added an old favorite to her mix of hateful rhetoric, “You are the worst mother in the world. Why would anyone ever want you as a mother?! You are mean, mean, mean!” Of course, she repeated these phrases and got louder through the repetitions. So, I left her at the fringes of the clothing section in the aisle so I could peacefully look for a gift.

Well, here’s the thing about ChaCha, she’s a smart chick. She uses multiple offenses to wear her target down and can switch tactics at the drop of a dime. She sees another mom in the clothing section and finds an easy mark. Since her berating didn’t work, she switched to manipulation. She started whining, “Mommy! Mommy! Where are you? I want to see. I can’t see you!” *insert eye roll to side-eye here* Of course, because ChaCha’s greatest weapon to the uninitiated is her cuteness, the other woman fell for it hook, line, and sinker. What do I hear next? “Oh sweetie, it’s okay! It’s okay. You’re mommy is right there. I promise you you’re fine.” Then, “Oh honey sit down that’s dangerous. You might fall and hurt yourself.” THEN Target employee, “Ma’am, your daughter is standing up in the cart. I’m nervous she might hurt herself.” Meanwhile, ChaCha is playing the tiniest violin and assuredly cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West on the inside. I give Mr. Target and Ms. Meddling Mom both the stink eye and say, “We’ve got a thing going on here. I’m aware of everything but thanks for being concerned citizens.” Now, I appreciate both of those people being community-minded and compassionate enough to offer concern and support for my child. And if Asha had been in the driver’s seat versus Thug Baby, I would be all for it. Today…not so much. I was slowly losing my capacity to demonstrate care and concern for her little butt and had nothing to give to those innocent bystanders.

We finally make it to the check-out and she drops a barrette she had been playing with. Well, Petty Boop that I am refused to pick it up for her…besides it wasn’t hers, just some random accessory contraband that had come home from school or day camp or a friend’s house. In part, because none of her tactics had resulted in any desirable outcome and, in part, because she had an audience with the checkout woman and the person behind me, she started the waterworks and mild tantruming. The last straw was that she kicked me — on purpose — and had the nerve enough to look at me for a reaction. I snapped to her face with direct eye contact with the quickness and told her, “Kick me again and you will wish you had made a different choice when we get back in the car.” I guess that registered because she quieted the tears, a bit, and walked, begrudgingly out of the store and to the car. Don’t you know it? Almost immediately upon getting in the car, the water works stopped. Interesting how emotions work that way, huh?

What’s the point of all of this besides some catharsis for me? Here’s the point, motherhood is love personified. So, after all of that deplorable treatment, I still remained calm through the ride home. I issued her consequences (bath and straight to bed when we got home) calmly and respectfully. I bathed her with love. I tucked her in. I gave her a hug and took calming breaths with her until she began to relax. Simply because I love her unconditionally and my responsibility is to demonstrate that to her at all times. To affirm for her that despite her horrible choices, though they will always have consequences, she is loved. She is a good person. She can wake tomorrow and make better choices. We can wake tomorrow and try this thing called life again with a fresh start.

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