Monday, June 20, 2011

It's just a milkshake

The scene is only twelve seconds long but it has gotten under my skin to the point where I'm quoting it to the children.

It's just a milkshake.

I said it last night at dinner when Stella spilled ketchup all over her skirt and the carpeted floor. She cried and said, "It's not a milkshake, Mommy!" but she knew what I meant. I'd explained it the day before when her cup of root beer got knocked over at my niece's graduation party.

"It's just a milkshake."

"No Mommy! It's root beer!"

I've said it to Hamish too.

The scene is here, two minutes, eighteen seconds in. You have to wait for the thirteen-second Breaking Bad trailer to end but now I've watched it enough that I'm intrigued to watch that show too. Maybe I'll add it to my queue.

It takes us a while to catch up on quality TV since we don't have cable, and yes I am shamelessly proud of that fact. It keeps me and the kids out of a whole lot of trouble. But we have Netflix, and that's how we manage to not live completely under a rock.

I told the kids about the origins of my new milkshake line—

"Daddy and I were watching TV and there was this scene. A dad and his kids were at a diner, and they were with the dad's girlfriend. The kids, a boy and a girl, started fighting and there were these two gigantic strawberry milkshakes on the table. One of the milkshakes got knocked over and the dad got really angry, shot up from the table in a huff, but the girlfriend, she was so calm, grabbed some napkins and said, "Don't be upset. It's just a milkshake," and the dad was so surprised at her response, he looked at her like she was from a different planet. It was like he was thinking, really? I don't need to lose my temper? And he sat back down and no one yelled and no one got upset and they just cleaned it up and the dad sat there, stunned by this whole new universe that opened up before him."

They understood. Well, Hamish got it right away, I could tell by the look in his eye. Stella still cried when she dumped ketchup all over herself.

She cried, I think, because I've mostly responded by losing it when things spill. I've tried not to, but after a long week, a long day, after everyone's finally seated and finally ready to begin eating dinner the ketchup spills, well, Dammit! Now look what you've done! It's a knee-jerk reaction.

It might not have become my default response if I hadn't grown up with a parent who lost his cool when drinks spilled, or when I drew a few faint lines of pencil on his bedroom wall, or made a tidy mountain of Love's Baby Soft bath powder on my plastic vanity top, or failed to finish my hamburger at dinner. My life was a series of blistering God Dammits! And subsequent running from the belt.

But that's the way it went and then I became a mom, the kind who swore she'd do it differently and then failed. Okay I don't chase my kids with a belt. But I do lose it. And I apologize. Because I know better. The kids are just being kids, acting age-appropriately and so forth, and I know how they feel because I was once in their shoes.

So this scene with Megan and Don, it hit me hard, and since then, I've adopted Megan's cucumber attitude in times of spillage, and Reader, I tell you, it worked. My first response to that ketchup? I saw red. But then I went into Megan mode and the anger flowed like so much pureed tomato.

That Megan, she's a keeper.

And she speaks French too.

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