“Only one.” He’s not even looking in my direction. I bend down. My forehead inches away from his. I know this is a risk. I also know I need him to understand—One thing,one thing only.
What I don’t know is, why I bother. The same thing happens every time, yet each time I hope for a different outcome?! I think I do this ‘dance’ for me and for our audience ( whom we tend to attract when in public! )
I steady myself. He is looking around repeating ” yeah, yeah, yeah” . I place my hands firmly on his little shoulders applying a little pressure. He looks at me with his big round blue eyes. I smile. I point at my mouth, his eyes follow my finger. ” Only one”. He nods. So far so good.
I can see people across the street walking and talking. They are loud. I take a deep breath. I focus. “Only one” I repeat. He nods as he shrugs my hand from his shoulder. I release my hand, straighten myself up, I feel positive, today just might be different. He takes my hand.
I can feel his hand squirm in mine as we cross the threshold of the busy toyshop. I take a deep breath as I hold his chubby hand a little tighter. He stops. He squirms , his face getting redder and redder the longer I hold his hand. He breaks free, squealing with delight he runs quite wobbly down the busy isle. I run after him, calling his name, for no actual reason, I know he’s not going to stop—-again I feel this may be for my steadily growing audience.
He’s grabbing at all the toys, pulling them off the neat shelves and throwing them at other customers. He’s really delighted with himself. I am embarrassed.
I pick up the toys while apologising to the ‘victims’ of cardboard boxes being thrown. I can hear the tuts and feel the judgemental eyes burrowing into my face. I am very very red now. I don’t look at any of them.
I slowly go towards my son, who is now shouting and roaring at me to go away. “Away you, no not you” , he attempts to kick me. He misses. I have 12 years experience, I know all his moves. I smile at him. Edging closer while he throws teddy after teddy at me.( I am thankful we are not in the cars section) I smile, while beads of sweat run down my neck and I’m sure my face too.
“It’s ok buddy. It’s ok”, I try to sooth him. The audience are still there,watching the so called mother deal with her brat.
“Ethan want this one?”, I grab the nearest teddy to me, praying it’s not crazy expensive. His eyebrows narrow ” Ohhh, this one?” I repeat, making the teddy do a dance. He smiles. I feel my blood pressure go back down. “Come on”, I hand him the teddy and offer my hand.
Thankfully he takes both.
We walk quickly to the checkout. The cashier tilts her head, winks and sells us the goddamn teddy as quickly as is humanly possible. I am so grateful, I smile, I can feel my bottom lip wobble as I say “Sorry for..” She interrupts me, ” Go on dear.”
We leave the shop. We walk for a moment.
”Only one” Ethan roars out as I cross the road to the car. ” Yes baby, only one” I sigh, as we leave the car park, which I have no intention of returning to any time soon.