But there was, indeed, such a mom. And naturally her daughter was the one my kid had a HUGE crush on. He even bought her a ring at the school’s Holiday Shoppe this year. Plastic and rhinestones. But still. The kid understood the significance of the gift.
I was already lukewarm on That Mom ever since Fletcher reported that while he’d been at her house for a play date he’d eaten nothing but candy and spent the whole afternoon playing Big Buck Hunter on the Wii. I wasn’t familiar with that particular video game, but seeing my babysitter’s eyes go wide when Fletcher described it was enough to let me know it wasn’t exactly an all-ages game. Still, my kid adored her kid so I thought I’d give the whole play date thing another go, and I invited the little girl to come roller skating with us one Saturday afternoon. I figured the kids would skate, and her mother and I could spend a little Mom-To-Mom time getting to know each other. And … well … no. That’s not what happened at all.
“Hey!! My toddler’s having a melt-down, so could you keep an eye on these kids while I take him home?” was how she greeted me at the skating rink door. She was talking so fast, her words came out like one really long word: Mytoddlershavingameltdownsocouldyoukeepaneyeonthesekidswhileittakehimhome???????
Wait. Huh? WTF??
I’d invited her daughter to go skating with my son. And she showed up with her daughter, her daughter’s younger sister and the girls’ two besties. And, oh yes, the toddler who was flailing around on the floor screaming like he was being filleted with long knives. And she wanted me to keep track of all of them in a dark rink … ON WHEELS! Okay, in her defense, I could see such a request being made in a moment of pure temporary insanity. We’ve all had that unnerving three-year-old-tantrum-in-a-public-place experience. (And if you haven’t yet, don’t worry, you will.) But the horrified look on my face and my flat refusal to be responsible for five kids — one of whom I didn’t even know — in a dark rink, on wheels should have snapped her right back to reality. I mean, in your head that might sound like a plausible, even good, idea. But once the words are out of your mouth and you actually hear them, you gotta think, No, of course not. That’s crazy talk.
But she’s not THAT mom because she asked. It never hurts to ask. Who knows. Another mom used to wrangling eight or nine kids of her own might have said Sure! No sweat. That’s a light load for me! But I find it challenging enough at times to manage even one child. And did I mention they’d all be on wheels?
So, no. She’s not THAT mom because she asked. She’s THAT mom because she pushed. Even after I explained — quite rationally I thought — that I was uncomfortable taking charge of five kids, she still tried to bull me into it. Fortunately, I hail from New York City, land of the best therapists ever. I worked out my doormat issues eons ago, and for damn sure I wasn’t getting suckered into this situation. Though as I proceeded to get my kid his rental skates, I wondered (for the hundredth time since we’d arrived at the rink) why my darling child didn’t want to go skating with any of the kids whose parents I really look forward to hanging out with. And who’d never think of saddling me with their brood while they took a powder.
Even so, that afternoon, Fletcher and I had a fantastic time skating … though That Mom was a bit cranky because I wouldn’t let her off the hook.
There is an upside, however: It’s doubtful we’ll be getting together again any time soon.