There are lots of public places that I like to parent. The park’s OK. I don’t mind the grocery store so long as there are either free samples or carts shaped like emergency vehicles that will seat two children. I can stomach a sushi dinner and tolerate an airplane ride, but the post office? No thanks.
But I was on a kick to show Jeff how competent I could be. Jeff! Look at me! I can remember to take my reusable bags into the grocery store and return the library books on time! That should have been enough for the month of December.
But then I had to show off.
When Jeff said he had a package he was taking to the post office, I offered to take it. Naturally, he declined because the post office during holiday season with two little kids is not something you do to someone you love.
But I was cocky. I’d just clipped a recipe for turkey jambalaya and had laid out all my spices. There was literally nothing I could not do. I gently chided him, “You’re hard to help, you know. Just let me do it.”
“Really?” He said, glancing from the kids fighting in the kitchen over a purple marker to me and back to them. What could he do? I was in my I am woman, hear me roar mode.
I pulled into the post office parking lot like I was Boss Hogg– all swagger as I grabbed the holiday cards that were already addressed and ready to go on December 2. I didn’t balk when the line was 10 people deep. I didn’t flinch when I realized Simon had a heavy, dirty diaper affixed to his rear end. I almost wavered when I realized that I had forgotten the diaper bag. But no, I was still in the game.
The game of pretending like I’ve got it all under control. In other words, acting. Oscar worthy.
Sadie knocked a few people over playing with the button that automatically opens the doors. Simon broke the rope thingy that keeps people from cutting in line. A Snoopy envelope display toppled over just as I was getting to the front of the line. That’s about the time that Sadie and Simon fell on top of each other and knocked a cane out of an elderly woman’s hand. There was grumbling from the line that had grown to 20 people behind us. Who could blame them? No one was safe.
I finished my business at the postal window with a lovely clerk who had the patience of Michelle Duggar. I bribed both kids with promises of their own individual full-sized chocolate cake if they would go directly to the car and get in their seats.
On the ride home, I strained to recapture my I’ve got the world by the naughty bits moxie, but it had evaporated in that 20 minutes we spent in one of the most treasured civic institutions in our country.
“How’d it go?” Jeff later asked.
“Fine, great, no problem,” I answered as the children and I licked icing off our fingers.
So feel free to invite me and kids to Nobu or an antique showroom full of priceless crystal vases or a reading by Salman Rushdie. But don’t ask me to go to the post office, because I’m not dumb enough to do that again for another ten years.