Take one step back

Oh, my word, Interwebs. To say this day sucked rocks would be like saying a deluge can be a bit damp.

Wake up at midnight to screaming baby. Comfort measures don’t work. Endure *hours* of baby flopping all over bed trying to get comfortable, a feat he seems to think can be achieved by pulling my hair, head butting me, and slapping me. Any attempts at comfort get a screamed “nah nah nah!” and a push in the face.

By morning I’m a wreck but he screams that he wants to get down. When I take off his diaper he rages that he wants it back on. I offer comfort which he refuses. He pees all over the floor then rages when I take off his wet pants. I offer comfort. He refuses. I offer new jammie bottoms. He refuses. I offer pants. He refuses. All refusals offered loudly.

The morning proceeds like this. Offer food, he screams at me. Offer dancing, he screams at me. Offer to help when something doesn’t work and he throws himself on the floor, more mad at my suggestion than at the rat bastard toy. Which he then throws across the room to express frustration. Then throws himself down again to express longing for the toy.

He screams the whole way to school, trying to leap out of the backpack carrier. My back does not appreciate 0.8 miles of sideways baby lurching around, but I try to figure out the problem. Want your hood on? NAH! Want your hood off? NAH! Do you like the rain? Dah. (beat) *scream*

He wants no playground, no home, no cafe, no music, no anything. He nurses as though it’s his 3-week growth spurt. And screams as though he’s auditioning for something very, very sad and angry.

He won’t nap. He won’t get in the stroller or the car or the sling or the mei tai or hiking backpack. At one point I leave him in the living room, crying, to go scream my head off in the kitchen. I scream so hard and loud that I actually wet myself. I’m not the only one, though. As with yesterday, the kid refuses to go in the bathroom. He pees his pants so much I almost run out of pants.

And he stays awake the whole walk to school, two hours past his naptime.

And when a friend greets him sweetly I tell her he doesn’t get any niceness today. He’s a b-a-d b-a-b-y, I say, so don’t talk to him. I’m only slightly kidding.

Brief discussion ensues. She mentions an asymptomatic UTI her toddler had around the same age. the treatment for which turned him back into a normal child. It’s Friday. I’m not going to put up with this all weekend or I will be homicidal.

Two hours later the doc finds two raging ear infections.

[brief note on second-time parents and gross stupidity: if the first one had been acting out of the ordinary, I would have assumed illness. It is evidence of the shell shock born of a really tough time with Peanut that made me jump right past “maybe he is in pain” to assume Butter had just turned the corner into his semi-long-term asshole phase. I plead exhaustion and end-of-my-rope-d-ness to excuse not seeing the signs. I also submit that he was clingy while sick and the refusing to be touch thing smacked of jerk rather than illness. Further, I offer that I used to be good at problem solving and am now good only at barely making it through the day.]

While the pharmacy mixes up some goo (don’t judge our easy use of antibiotics on this one; we’re a wait-and-see family and we’ve gone through nine ear infections with no antibiotics including one ruptured ear drum but this kid is not effing human today and I can’t let him or me go through another day of this) I take both boys to CheeseBoard for a treat. The eldest wants Peet’s instead. Fine. It was a long hour in the doctor’s office and you’re a tired, hungry kid. Muffin it is. Surely I can carry a miserable toddler and a pizza the one extra block.

Peanut gets a bran muffin, finds a table, and willingly shares with his baby brother without being asked. Things are looking up. All the little monster wants is a chair so he can sit next to the big guy. I ask a woman sitting alone at a two-person table if she needs the second chair.

She rolls her eyes and says, as sarcastically as she can muster, “Well, I guess not any more.”

I blink, unable to conjure all the replies she deserves, then walk away as she starts to point out a chair across the restaurant. Lady, I have two small children, one of whom is a Tasmanian Devil toddler who can open the door unassisted and who is currently roaming loose without supervision around strangers’ hot coffee. I’m not going to travel farther from him to get a chair.

“That’s okay. We’ll make do.”

I squat and offer the toddler my knee on which to perch. He throws himself on the floor screaming. I whisper, “Honey, sweet, I know it’s frustrating, but there’s only one chair.”

The condescending, poisonous, passive aggressive asshat says from three tables over, “Oh, geez. Just take the chair.”

Given one iota of energy and the guarantee that my children would be safe while I stepped away for a moment, I would have walked over and punched her square in the face, so help me Aphrodite.

Instead I lovingly scoop up the demonic presence inhabiting my youngest’s body and walk outside with him. I gently ask the beleaguered older brother to come with us. The wee one squirms out of my arms and almost knocks himself unconscious on the concrete. I help him stand and offer comfort and options. He pees all over the sidewalk. In his only pants. In the rain on a 45 degree Fall evening four blocks from the pharmacy.

And I actually don’t cry. Or bang on the window and curse at the fathermucking selfish c-word who couldn’t even admit that she needed the empty chair.

I put the screaming sadsack in the carrier and sing to him as we walk to the pharmacy. I pick up the goo while he screams. I pay while he screams. I walk him to the car while he screams. And sit down in the car with the five year old who willingly reads a book and eats his muffin. I want to cry but don’t. I nurse the baby, text Spouse a warning about my mood, and tell myself that if I can make it 10 hours into this day, I can do two more.

Look, I know sometimes you have a long day and want to sit alone in a cafe. I know sometimes you’re waiting for someone and need a second chair. I know sometimes the love of your life just occupied the chair across from you and you want to keep the essence of your bond alive by leaving the chair vacant. In that case, just say you need the other chair.

I’m not entitled to the chair. I am, however, entitled to some fracking human compassion. There are only two answers: Yes or No. Sarcasm and confusing condescension and weirdass nastiness should not be part of the equation.

I’ve been asked if I can spare a chair. I answer either, “Nope, it’s all yours,” or, “Actually I’m expecting someone, sorry.”

Isn’t that in the social contract somewhere?