An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Mom said, "No."

Back near Christmas, we had a mom and her three kids come in one night to look for books. The kids were all within a year or so of each other, probably ranging from age 5 - 8, brother, sister, brother.

"Can I have a candy cane?" the little girl, said, pointing up at the five candy-canes that were hooked over the back of our Bookpage display.

"I don't see why not," I said. "As long as it's okay with your mom."

Girl and youngest brother dashed into the children's room to negotiate with their mom for a candy cane. Mom came and looked at the canes and seemed to think about it for a few seconds before saying, "No. You all had candy earlier."

I expected all three children to burst into pleading screams, but the girl heard, accepted it, and moved on with her life.  The older brother seemed indifferent about it. This left youngest brother, who wasn't willing to give up just yet. He instantly turned on the tears--not at full open spigot, but just enough to wet his eyes--then went into whine mode with the standard, "But moooOOOOOooommmmmm! I waaannnt ooonnnnnnNNNNnnnee!"

I knew--or at least, I thought I knew--how this little scenario was going to play out: Kid would whine for several minutes and would possibly enlist the aid of his siblings in a triple-ply begging session that mom would be hard-pressed to resist. It would go on so long that mom would finally relent on the grounds that it's easier to give in to their demands than have to listen to the crying. Either that or kid would be smacked down. Neither scenario was to occur, though.

The whining session from little brother did last for quite some time. He continued saying, "But I wannnnnnnt ooooooooonnnnnnneeee," repeatedly throughout the checkout process. Mom, to her infinite credit, stood fast in her resolve that the kids would have no candy. She had given them her edict and was not going to change it just because little brother wanted to whine. She backed this up with the phrase, "Mom said `No.'"

Little brother didn't want to hear this, though. He continued to whine and even poured on more tears, all to no effect. This crying fit lasted all the way to the car and, I suspect, most of the way home. No candy was had, though.

I so respected that mom. I've been witness to many a parental cave-in, but she was just so cool about it. Granted, they were in public and maybe that scene would have played much more vocally had they been at home. But she handled it so well that I had to chalk her up as a good mom teaching her kids good lessons whether they liked it or not.

That was several weeks ago.

This past Sunday, they returned. This time they turned in a bunch of their non-fiction bug videos, plus a few books, then they all went upstairs to look for more books. Evidently, Little Brother wanted another video too and had raised enough of a stink about it that Mom had once again said, "No." I know this because he came stomping down the stairs, 20 minutes later, crying, "Myyyyyy videoooooooooooo!"

Once again, Mom was having none of it. I think she'd given her part of the argument upstairs and was no longer in a mood to tell the kid "No" anymore. Just let him scream himself hoarse, seemed to be her attitude. Again, though, kid wasn't learning anything from history. He continued to wail "Myyyy videeeoooooooo! Myyyyyyyy videEEEEoooooooo!" while I checked out mom's books to her. His siblings watched with some amusement as their brother then collapsed onto the floor in an obvious display of painful video deprevation and continued to holler.

As the checkout process was nearing its end, little brother realized he had a very limited window in which to make and win his case and he really began pouring on the tears. Now he was lying on the floor, on his face, screaming directly into our runner carpet, "MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY VIDEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Mom gathered up her books, directed her non-screaming kids toward the door and started moving.

"MYYYY VIDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOO!" kid squalled in a last ditch effort to get his way. It was ignored.

I watched them make their way to their car where the two good children obediently climbed into the back seat on their own while mom picked up the screamer around his waist and carried him around to the passenger side. She opened the door, inserted him into the car, glanced around--perhaps to make sure no one was actively calling child-services on her--then closed the door and departed. Only then did the wailing become inaudible.

I related that story to my dad yesterday and apologized for the many times when, as a child, I was that kid.

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