April 21, 2012

And then there’s the woman at 8:50

I’m standing outside the Museum of Fine Arts at 8:50 AM, not 100 yards from the spot where, yesterday morning, some guy called me out for yelling at Benjamin.  I’m not yelling now, and Benjamin is happily running up the steps and down the ramp.  Lilah is balancing on a stone curb.

Zachary is half a block behind us, now 36 minutes into a meltdown that started as we pulled out of the driveway, continued all the way past the mall and Dunkin’ Donuts, through upwards of twelve major intersections, and into the city.  It continued after I parked the car and got the younger two children out.  It persisted even after I coaxed him out of the car and halfway down the sidewalk, where I think he realized the potential shame of sobbing in front of his friends but could not stop the crying and so instead refused to come any closer to the museum entrance.

I kept walking, leaving him and his backpack in the middle of the sidewalk in hopes it would burn out without an audience.  Now, an audience materializes in the form of one of his classmates with his grandmother, who is dropping him off for the morning.  Arrested by the sight of a small child standing alone in a sidewalk in tears, she stops to ask if he was OK, which gives him an audience and also fuels his frustration.  Damn it, I think as I watch her talk to him.  That’s going to add a couple more minutes back on.

“Is he part of your family?” she asks when she reaches me.

“Yes,” I reply.  “I’m watching him from here.  He needs to be left alone when he’s like this.  It’s unfortunate when it happens in public places.”

Somehow, the boy comes closer and I get him up the steps, but he still hasn’t calmed down.  I’m not going to tell you why he is hysterical, because you wouldn’t believe it anyway, but suffice it to say he needs to be separated from his brother as soon as possible.

It is super-awesome when he starts refusing to go up to class.  The grandmother is standing there, watching, while my kid cries and says, “I’m not going.”

“It’s not an option,” I tell him.  “You are going up.”

“I’m not going.”

But, oh, yes he is.  And he does.  And by the time I’ve taken the younger two to the bathroom, the teacher reports that Zach is fine.

Now, at this point I’ve listened to his histrionics for three-quarters of an hour.  I haven’t yelled.  I haven’t threatened.  I have been firm and clear but also sympathetic.  I also have a huge goddamned headache and have completely depleted my stores of patience for the day.

I take the other two across to play in the grass until the museum opens.  On our way back, we run into the grandmother.

“You know,” she says.  “You were great with him.”


“Really.  He’s not an easy kid.  He’s stubborn.  You’ve got your hands full.”

And right there, with that acknowledgement – perhaps 200 yards from where some asshole cut me down just one day ago – she completely refills all those stores of patience.

It’s a damned good thing she does, given that I’m about to spend six hours in an art museum with my children.

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  • Reply Kris April 21, 2012 at 12:57 am


  • Reply lifeineden April 21, 2012 at 1:15 am


  • Reply melanie April 21, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Yay for smart Grandma’s!

  • Reply WendyElissa April 21, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Women are just smarter than men. They are more intuitive about what is really going on:).

  • Reply alejna April 21, 2012 at 1:47 am

    And with that, a little bit of my faith in humanity has been restored.

  • Reply Coco Rogers April 21, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Sometimes, the Universe really does seem to know just what you need. And it listens. 🙂

    Yay for validation, and yay for sharp, grandmotherly ladies.

  • Reply Ken April 21, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Yay Universe!!!

  • Reply Painted Maypole April 21, 2012 at 4:34 am

    it’s amazing what a compliment and some empathy can do. Hooray for this woman. and for you.

  • Reply Mona Wise April 21, 2012 at 7:25 am

    You are an amazing Mum Emily. Every time I read one of these stories I picture myself standing there yelling at my kids. How you have all that patience, even if it was depleted for that day, amazes me. You are one of my ‘Mom heroes’ xx

  • Reply Teme April 23, 2012 at 2:51 am

    I’m so glad good karma showed up after that idiot yesterday. Of the two, it’s clear which one knew something about raising kids and which one has probably spent a lifetime sitting clueless on the couch. I hope karma showed up for him, too … maybe one of his grandchildren had a huge relentless, wild, unstoppable, life-disrupting, head-spinning, reverberating-through-the-house, three-hour nightmare epic meltdown shortly thereafter. I’m hoping.

  • Reply fiwa April 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I read the whole post over the weekend, cringing that she was going to have a nasty comment to make like the other, ahem, gentleman. I’m so GLAD this woman was smart enough to sit back and watch what was going on with an objective eye and KIND enough to give you the encouragement that you needed. Sometimes just a kind word of understanding is enough to really make the difference.

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