There were lots of unreasonable requests in the closing days of the school year. Most of which involved smuggling something there that ought not to be (like “…my dog,” “…my three thousand-pound rock collection—so my teacher can choose one,” “…my caterpillars and wormies,” and “…my gigantic squirt gun!” Another entirely different set of pleas were made for wearing some sort of inane getup that would in all likelihood ban them from the establishment for life (like “…my bathing suit,” “…just my underwear, Mom,” “…my flip-flops,” “my cheetah pants,” “…my big sister’s dreadlock wig.”)
All but their demands for caterpillars and flip-flops were shot down handily because, of course, Mommie Dearest reared her ugly head. I did, however, eventually soften on at least one other matter—that of the blasted Crocs.
“Mom, can I wear my new Crocs to school tomorrow?! Pleasepleasepleaseplease!? CanIcanIcanIcanI?!”
I paused briefly to contemplate the hell I’d surely pay if and when I denied her request. Like a fool, I decided it was worth the wrath I’d suffer at the hands of a seven-year-old obsessed with Croc-O-Mania.
“No, Hon. I’m sorry. Your aunt and uncle were kind enough to give them to you and they’re adorable. Really, they are. But they just don’t fit you well enough. Not for school. You’re swimming in the stupid things.” Read: they’re big and sloppy and your feet look as if they’ve been shoved inside Kleenex boxes—Pepto-Bismol-hued Kleenex boxes festooned with functionless air holes, more specifically. “And besides, you’ll fall down on the playground and knock your teeth right through your lip (banking on the graphic visual to drive home my point).”
“No I won’t! I can run in my Crocs just FINE, Mom—and I won’t even fall down all day!” she defended, shuffling across the kitchen in the silly things just to prove it. “Kasey (along with 37 other names she rattled off) wears ‘em to school because her mom lets her.” (Translation: Kasey’s mom is the best mom in the Universe. I, by contrast, suck.)
“The answer is still ‘no’ and besides, Kasey doesn’t live in this house—you do,” I countered, fighting the insanely overwhelming urge to cave. Still, I just wasn’t convinced that she’d do anything but scuff and skid and skate through her entire school day, exhausting her little gripper toes in the process. Privately, I hemmed and hawed, seeing myself as a merciless tyrant—denying that which I know would make my child infinitely happy. At the same time I envisioned giving in, feeling horrible as a result. Neglectful. Like a pitiful excuse for a mother—one that couldn’t even send her poor waif to school with the proper foot attire. Oh, the horror!
I then snapped to my senses, “They fall off even when you’re on the toilet! It’s craziness to wear them to school. I think you should just wear them here. At home. Where it’s safe—at least until your feet grow.”
“I’m DYING then!” she wailed with the sort of woe-is-me drama that would have won her an Oscar. “Or else I’M MOVING TO CALIFORNIA where you’ll NEVER find me and I’m taking JACK with me!” Mr. Fuzzypants then perked his ears and tilted his head quizzically, thrilled to have been included in the discussion. Although, I suspect he was mostly interested in learning whether our incessant blathering meant he’d be getting a treat anytime soon—or at the very least, going for a walk. He then glanced at the leash and studied our faces, his blackish eyes dancing with the notion of “MOVING TO CALIFORNIA.”
“Will you be taking your Crocs to California?” I asked as if I were inquiring whether she wanted bologna or peanut butter in her lunch.
“YeeeeEEEEEsssssSSSSS!” she fumed, her face pink as those Pepto-Bismol-ish shoes. “And I’m wearing them TO SCHOOL and EVERYWHERE ELSE I want to. And you can’t stop me. Hrmph!”
“But what will you do in the mean time?”
“I’ll just hide them in my backpack—inside a secret pouch that’s invisible even to YOU. Then you’ll neeeeever know I’m wearing them at school all day,” delivered with that “So THERE!” tone with which I am becoming increasingly familiar.
Weary from the battle and shamed into giving in, I conceded defeat. “Wear ‘em already. Croc yourself out!”
Planet Mom: It’s where I live (where Croc-O-Mania has hit with a vengeance).
Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel