Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Worst Easter Egg Hunt Ever

Saturday was the town Easter Egg Hunt at our country house in New Paltz. Last year, the egg hunt was unmitigated joy, face painting, baskets loaded with colored eggs, an appearance by the Easter Bunny himself, candy eaten scandalously in the backseat of the car, little faces smeared in chocolate. In a word, awesome.

This year, the egg hunt began with weeping. And ended in nudity and weeping. This is sometimes how it goes for us.

Every Easter Sunday, David gets up at the crack of dawn with a garbage bag full of plastic eggs - that took us hours the night before to fill with candy and little tiny annoying useless toys - and litters the yard and the surrounding woods with them. The kids jump out of bed on Sunday morning to find a proper Easter basket. They rifle through that for awhile, pop a chocolate or ten into their mouths for breakfast, and then, grab a bag and hord - I mean, find - as many eggs as they can.

The town egg hunt is a whole different affair. The whole town comes out. There are firetrucks, a huge bunny walking around shaking hands and posing for pictures. There are moms selling cupcakes, an easter basket raffle, and several large expanses of grass flush with colored plastic eggs. Then someone blows a whistle and seemingly sweet, nicely-raised kids knock each other down and rip eggs out of each others hands, all so they can fill their baskets with crap, as parents look on proudly.

It's a nice event. With nice people. Which is why I was surprised when the whole thing turned to shit on me.

This year, David was working so I took them to the hunt by myself. We have ballet (Edie)and gymnastics (Lucy) Saturday mornings, so we each brought outfits to change into for the hunt...well, not Edie, she forgot hers, so we swung by the house on the way to the hunt and David handed us a fresh change of clothes through the car window, with the motor still running, and everyone agreed the clothes were good - or so I thought - and we sped off toward the hunt.

Did I tell you it was cold? It was. And that it started to rain? It did. Which is fine. We are Fosters. We are tough (Lucy hates it when I say that) We parked the car and started to change our clothes. The hunt was about to start. We had five minutes. We could do this. Lucy was in and out of her clothes in under 30 seconds. Nothing gets between her and a good race with candy at the end of it. Edie was looking at her clothes. The wrong clothes. The ones David got very very wrong. She burst into tears.

Lucy was looking out the window at the kids lining up for the hunt. Edie started screaming and throwing the clothes and sobbing harder. I had a brilliant idea. I was calm. We could solve this problem. She could wear her ballet outfit, her tutu even. She loved her ballet outfit.

That's when she became inconsolable. The very idea was a misery. The rain was really coming down. Lucy was antsy, eager, afraid she'd miss something important, but still trying to be patient, still thinking of her sister before her own needs. I knew we had to get out of the car and start heading over or we'd miss the whole thing. I didn't want Lucy to miss any of the hunt because of Edie's tantrum. One way or another we were going to cross this grass and go to a friggin easter egg hunt. I gave Edie the choice: ballet outfit or Daddy's outfit.


I grabbed her spare clothes, the hated clothes, thinking I could get her to put them on, picked her up and told Lucy to head on over to the hunt, we'd be right behind. Edie started screaming... "Go" She wiggled out of my arms and went full throttle into a kicking tantrum right there in the wet grass which just totally pissed her off. Parents were staring. Kids heading to the hunt were staring. I tried to stay focused on Edie, getting her through this, keeping my own temper at bay. To hell with those nosey starers anyway. Had they never had a crying child before? Let 'em think whatever they think.

She went limp on the ground, kicking, screaming and raging from the wet grass and...this is where it gets worse...taking off her leotard. It's 40 degrees, it's raining, I can no longer see where Lucy is in the hords of kids with Easter baskets and Edie has pulled her leotard around her waist and was screaming, I want to change my clothes...I want to change my clothes..."

I grab her off the ground. It wasn't easy lifting her from a dead lift, but I do it, awkwardly, losing a leg here and picking up an arm here, hoisting her up against my hip and then into my arms. It wasn't pretty. I see more staring. All the while people think my next move will be to dump her into a non-descript white van and pull away into oblivion. At this point, no one would be able to tell the difference between me and a hideously motivated stranger. There's not a single inkling this wailing child knows me, let alone loves me.

I head into the crowd to find Lucy. Edie is wailing and half-naked in my arms. She's thrusting her torso so I can't get a solid grip on her and I keep having to wheel her around in different directions in my arms. I have no idea where Lucy is. I know she's there, but I hate not being able to lay my eyes on her.

Also, I have a huge winter coat on, so I look like the most selfish person on the planet, holding my nearly naked daughter in my arms. I see Lucy is okay. She is shaking hands with the Easter Bunny. She's smiling. Such a big girl, able to take care of herself. Twinge of guilt. I see a friend of David's who has a child Edie's age and I ask him to look after Lucy, which he does. He has no choice, really. I'm struggling in the deep end and he's the only one with a life vest. His act of good will gives me some room to manuever.

I take off my winter coat, while holding Edie's squirming body with one hand and whip it around her and head to the cupcake stand. So, now, I'm cold. But I don't care because she is much less visibly naked than she was a few seconds ago. But she's still fighting it. I go to the cupcake stand mostly because there is a tourist building there and I think I might be able to go inside, talk to her, settle her and get her warm. But no, the Cupcake Mom, says it's closed.

I decide to buy Edie a cupcake. There are moms there. I know there is camraderie here. They've been here. They'll get me. I just need a reassuring smile from one of my sisters, a bolt of energy to help me find what Edie needs and give it to her.

The Cupcake Lady hears Edie asking for a change of clothes and assumes what she thinks is obvious - that I am actually preventing my daughter from wearing warm clothes and that I am subjecting to her to be naked in winter weather. The Cupcake Lady shoots the Cupcake Lady next to her a look. She comes around to the front of the table, and gets up in Edie's face and in a sugary voice asks the child in my arms: Honey, do you want mommy to get you some warm clothes? You are so cold, arent you?

Edie: Change...My...Clothes...

Then, she looks at me as if I have no clue and says: Oh look at her, she's freezing. You have to put some clothes on her.

Edie: Change...My...Clothes...

Cupcake Lady to Edie: Are you asking Mommy for warm clothes? You just want to wear clothes like the other children...

The mere mention of clothes makes Edie start flipping out again and wiggle even farther out of the coat I'm trying to keep around her. I realize I have no friends here. And I'm surrounded by police and mandatory reoporters and God help me, Waldorf school teachers, and if I don't get her out of there right this minute, I might actually end up in a child protective services office having to explain to David why they took custody of our daughter.

Sometimes, I write stuff like this for impact, for laughs, but I seriously had a moment where I thought these people were actually thinking I was mistreating, punishing, hurting my child. It was frightening.

I grab three cupcakes, get the last look of judgement and horror from the Cupcake Lady and sit with Edie in the warm, running jeep, semi-naked, eating cupcakes and watching Lucy scurry around the wet grass picking up eggs, until the hunt for eggs is over and David's friend - who saved my ass - returns her to me. I have a spare cupcake waiting for her. The screams have stopped. There are only wet cheeks, reluctant hugs and amends, whimpers and cupcake crumbs. We are putting it behind us. She's sitting on my lap in the front seat.

Turns out Lucy only got six eggs, two of which she shares with her sister. There is secret candy eating in the backseat and chocolate faces after all. But six eggs is a crushing Easter blow. No one can dispute that. We discuss it in detail on the ride home. Lucy decides this is only a runner up to the real one at our house on Easter Sunday. She decides this might be the worst Easter egg hunt ever.

Edie and I agree.

xo YM



Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

I, for one, cannot wait for your book to come out - its going to be one of those "just one more page" ones that you end up reading in one sitting late into the night. And again. And again.

You have such a talent for bringing scenes to life - I felt like I was with you ever step of the way. Sorry you felt judged - can't believe that you didn't get a bit more camaraderie amongst the Cupcake Ladies. Boo for that.

Glad this ended happily ever after. Sort of.

The Yummy Mummy said...

That might be the nicest compliment about my writing ever. Thanks Mardi. It means a lot to me coming from you.

xo Kim

The Best Family said...

hi kim - mardi sent me this link knowing i'd like both the story and you - and i did! i have a little person who, in the face of The Wrong Clothes, would have done pretty much exactly what your little one did. reading your post, i too could feel the creeping fear and the judgment of the cupcake ladies. may we never be the cupcake ladies . . .
glad to meet you and have found your blog!

The Yummy Mummy said...

Thanks Cathy! Any friend of Mardi's is a friend of mine. Welcome!

You make a great point about never becoming a cupcake lady. I thought of that when I was writing this. I hope I can reserve judgment when it's all going to hell for another mom. I hope I can be the one who gives her a little boost and helps her through it. I hope I can make it a little easier, not harder.

Thanks for making that important point. We are, after all, in this together.

xo Kim

Christine said...

I kind of want to smack Cupcake Lady across the head...Yes, Edie is screaming because she just wants to wear clothes "like the other children." Bah. I mean really, why not just say: "Is there something I can do to help?" You would think that most parents would realize that sometimes (often?) kids, especially little ones aren't exactly rational.

I'm glad that you had a friend there to at least watch over LucyLuce while managing to placate Edie with a warm car.

Sharon Miro said...

Oh, goodness Kim. I amactually sitting here at home, some 35+ years beyond that stage of motherhood, and you brought it all back. I am chilled.
I am so sorry you could find no empathy from your peers--so sorry that no asked if you needed help. Every child has "moments" like that, some happen at home-some happen in public-in this day and age the public ones can go from just embarassment to full on SHIT in a nano-second. You had every right to be wary of self-righteous cupcake ladies, who are weird anyway.
I agree with Mardi-your words make pictures on the page.

The Table of Promise said...

LOL!! You had me laughing out loud. Oh My Goodness.

And yes I HATE the cupcake lady!!! I understand. I have had such rows with my kids that our neighbors sometimes are weird with me. And one couple doesn't even really speak to us anymore. But I console myself with the knowledge that if they could spend one day with my kids, BOTH of them all day alone, they would understand why I crack a beer at 5:30 and why sometimes it takes a half an hour of screaming to complete a three minute timeout.

Seriously though, at the risk of sounding crass, F*** Them! You did the right thing.

Janis said...

I know those looks all too well. I raised two kids as a single mom and I was just a kid myself. I got those looks so often that your description made my stomach seize up. No kidding.

Ok, I feel really sorry for you because of your story so I will give it to you that you have the crappiest pantry...but you don't. I do.

Mrs. Q said...

The. Best. Egg. Hunt. Story. Ever. Thank you for that laugh! Happy to know I'm not the only one who won't be winning the award for mother of the year!

Auburn Meadow Farm said...

So funny, but only from afar. My heart rate went up a bit reading this - I was so there once.

The only thing that makes me sadder than the Cupcake Ladies, is overhearing their little daughters being the EXACT same way....

I hope I've never made anyone feel judged like that ever.

Awesome writing - it was alive for me!

Molly said...

Oh I have been there before. The time my 2-year-old threw a massive tantrum, kicking and screaming, full-out lying on the ground right in front of the door to the grocery store because she refused, REFUSED to get out of one of those carts with the car in the front. I eventually had to carry her to the car still kicking and screaming, waiting for someone to call child services on me. And several times after that. There's always next year's egg hunt, sister!

Krista said...

Oh my! That's quite the story. I hope the cupcake ladies read it and feel bad for being so judgemental. We have ALL been there, there is not a child on Earth that has not had a meltdown, usually in public, and most often at the most inconvenient time possible. We do need to show more empathy and support for Moms who are in the middle of the storm, we absolutely do. I'm glad you had a friend around to keep his eye on Lucy and yes, there's always next year...just steer clear of the Cupcake Ladies.

Neo-Homesteading said...

Kids just know to have the worst tantrums in public. It takes a lot to not dissolve from the inside out. Then one day I realized my cute little baby was evil...

My son used to say "don't beat me" just for fun. He knew it nauseated me and made me turn colors. Like any parent I was emarassed and hurt, eventually I realized his trick was inentional and now I'm the crazy lady who sprints through a store praying to avoid chaos and meltdowns.


Kim, I am both laughing and crying at this post; as a single mom of TWO boys many years ago, i could curl your hair with stories of tantrums . . . and i received plenty of judgment too - mostly from inside church walls . . . go figure.

i am with Mardi - cannot wait until the book comes out because even though i no longer have kids in my home, somehow you make me want to relive those years again thru your eyes.

Screw the Cupcake Ladies - from my experience, people who live in glass houses, shouldn't be throwing stones cuz' you know what they say about paybacks . . .

Amber | Bluebonnets and Brownies said...

Oh man. You are a better woman than me. I would have told that Cupcake lady to shove it. I cringed with you, I nearly cried with Edie. I think Mardi is exactly right about how great your book is going to be.

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle said...

I doubt there is a Mom among us who can't identify with this story Kim. Trying to do something special for our kids and it turns out to be anything but and then on top of that...the judgment? It takes a cold woman to not bring compassion to a situation like that and those cupcake ladies? Well I fear that the words 'cupcake ladies' will forever remain in my imagination now with much more sinister implications. They should be ashamed.

I hope you can bring from this experience the knowledge that 1. You are not alone and 2. You took many of us to a place we hadn't visited in awhile and I appreciate the trip down memory lane. From this more distant perspective please don't hate me for chuckling along the way?

Lana said...

I devoured every word, reliving those days when I thought I heard the police and social workers approaching the door to our apartment, because my child was having a tantrum. Shudder. I can relate, but I am also relieved that I am past that phase - if it is a comfort, you will be retelling this story with a smile on your lips. Mothers forget too much:)
Loved your story:)

Paula said...

Hooray for Lucy for sharing some of her little treasures with Edie. Hooray for you for not losing it with those Cupcake *Ladies*
When your book does come out and hits the best seller list and you are flying around the country doing book signings, those Cupcake *Ladies* will probably be in line with their copies and big smiles on their faces waiting to meet you. Perhaps time and pen ink will run out just as it is their turn in line! If not, you can always write *Try always to offer help instead of judgement* in their copies.

candy said...

honestly, i enjoy reading your blog. I come by every time you post a new one. I have tried writing stories but they really never come out so interesting (stories from our families lives). I have a ten year old and a ten month old, husband is starting a business and i am a stay at home mom. busy times, LOL.
I'll stick to my blogs about opinions you stick to your stories. I'll keep coming back :-)

Scattered Mom said...

This doesn't happen often to me, but I sat here with a hand over my mouth saying, "Oh no." and teared up.

I've been there-I may have only one child, but I know EXACTLY how it feels to be the subject of stares, the judgment from another 'helpful' person, etc.

Part of me wanted to take a cupcake and shove it in the cupcake lady's face for you. My incident happened in a grocery store-except Kevin was flailing, and a woman stuck her face close to his and told him to stop and be a good boy. He was completely out of control and mid flail accidentally smacked her right across the face.

I admit I laughed. And then I told the woman that what she did was completely stupid. Stick your face inches from a tantruming stranger's child? Is she crazy?

My son had horrific tantrums that could last 2 hours. Take heart-it gets better...a few months ago my teen and I were at a store, and a child was tantruming in line behind us. The cashier was being judgmental and rude. She said to my son, "I'll bet YOU were never like that. " Kevin laughed and said, "Nope. I was a lot WORSE."

Nuts about food said...

Been there more times than I like to remember. And reading everyone's comments, its sounds like anybody who has children has dealt with tantrums and meltdowns. So why is it, when you are in the middle of one, that only those f***ing cupcake ladies show up?

Jamie said...

What an amazing story! Yes we have all been there....well not quite THERE but we all, as moms, feel for you! And it is funny that they start and wind themselves up so much and it goes on for seemingly hours but then it just turns off as inexplicably as it starts. Fabulous write up!

Christina @ Spoonfed said...

I already told you by e-mail that I read this in that cringe-y OMG-I-can-relate kind of way. And that I can't believe you didn't slug that smug witch.

But what I forgot was the time we were in the grocery checkout lane and Tess, exhausted from a very looooong shopping trip, was pitching a fit. This older woman behind us looked at Tess with disgust and said, half under her breath but clearly loud enough that she wanted me to hear: "What a BRAT."

"Excuse me?" I said. Then I managed something about how the woman must not have had any children or clearly she would understand. To which she replied that, oh YES, she'd had six kids, and they were all so well-behaved because SHE was a GOOD mother and taught them manners, blah, blah, blah.

"Well I guess that makes you a saint, then," I told her. Not missing a beat, she answered: "Yes I am."

And that's when I called a woman old enough to be my grandmother a bitch. Loudly, emphatically. Right in the grocery store checkout lane while the befuddled clerk avoided eye contact with the both of us and my (of course now angelic) 4-year-old sat quietly reading a book.

I was shaking so hard when I left that I burst into tears in the car. People are just shitheads sometimes. They just are.