Have you ever had one of those moments when you would do anything to keep the peace, to stop the crying, to keep your children from killing each other, to keep from killing your children? (figuratively speaking, of course!) Well, I have. And last night was one of them.
Zack was a titch sick and overtired from a long day of summer play sans nap. And when he realized that his Lightning McQueen, the Disney Cars matchbox, was lost, he lost it. Now some kids have blankies, lovies, stuffed animals, and even binkies. Zack has Lightning McQueen, and we’ve probably bought and lost five thus far, all to keep the peace. And those odd times when Lightning doesn’t make it with Zack to the end of the day, I can say, “We’ll find him tomorrow, Son,” and he will, begrudgingly, go to sleep. Not last night.
First Zack fell to the floor and thrashed, crying until he nearly hyperventilated. And then, for 30 minutes, he screamed until his sister and brother started to yell, “Mom, make him stop. We can’t sleep!”
Now I know Dr. Phil would have advised me to let Zack cry it out. Because how long could it take, really, for a three-year old to cry himself to sleep? Hours. Possibly days. So at that moment I would have done anything to end the hysteria and get my sick and tired boy to sleep. I would have fed him marshmallows and kool-aid if it would have helped. I would have promised him a Hummer for his 16th birthday. I would have stripped to my skivvies, painted a face on my belly, and danced on his dresser. But none of those would have worked. Lightning McQueen was all he wanted.
That’s when I remembered a post I once read by Heather B. called "I've been handbagged..." that told of a toddler attached to a purse full of binkies (13, to be exact). After a visit with family, they realized that the binky purse had been left behind. Unfortunately the family lived a ways away and they were nearly home when they made the discovery. Scratch that—when their daughter made the discovery. What followed was a binky debacle that included a meltdown of dizzying proportions and a quick run to a 24-hour drug store for an overpriced purse and 8 packages of binkies. Anything to keep the peace. Ever been there?
So it’s ten o’clock and I’ve reached that point where I’d do just about anything. But I’m certain my Lightning McQueen options are limited. I had to go to three stores before finding the last one, and two of those stores would now be closed. (Note to self: in this case a purse full of Lightning McQueens may be a good idea).
Instead I ran through the last few hours of Zack’s day to determine where, exactly, Lightning McQueen could be. Then I remembered; before dinner sometime he had carried a bucketful of cars to the neighbor’s house to play. I don’t remember seeing Lightning after that.
So call it what you will, tantrum-induced delirium or the urge to follow my mother’s frantic advice, I had become desperate. I was in a dark, dark place, people. So at ten o’clock last night I sent my oldest son to the neighbor’s house in attempts to retrieve Lightning McQueen (I know, it’s shameful. I sent my son to do my dirty work). It’s 10 o’clock, remember, and as soon as Kaleb knocks on the door (by the way, I’m cowering in the garage, watching) I realize their house is pretty dark. Sleeping dark. I try to call him back, stepping from the shadows as I do. In that exact moment the dad answers the door, in boxers and a t-shirt.
We woke up the parents. They woke up their children. And together they searched their playroom for the missing Lightning McQueen. Not only that, but they apologized to Zack (who was, at that point, alternately crying and hiccupping) for not being able to find him. I know, these people must be sainted before the week’s end. Okay, okay--and shame on us for waking them up.
So after all that, I carried Zack to his bed where he finally fell asleep. Yet again proving that Dr. Phil deserves to be as rich as he is (facetious people. I’m being facetious.) Also proving that sometimes temporary insanity is a good defense for bad parenting. And also also proving that parents can choose to be extremely sympathetic when they see another parent reach that breaking point.