Friday, September 17, 2010

White Trash Irritable

In my book is a chapter that addresses the White Trash phenomenon plaguing almost every mom of young children.

This phenomenon is what causes even the most sane of us to bring our barefoot children into a grocery store not because we don't make our kids wear shoes, but because the only pair of shoes we grabbed on the way out of the house looked very similar in the dim garage, but were in fact slightly different colored crocs, both for the left foot.  It makes us scurry into WalMart without wearing a bra because we are completely OUT of diapers and our infant had a blowout on the way to the preschool carpool lane and this is an absolute diaper emergency.

Or directs us to bring our children into a gas station conveinece store, one of them missing her pants, so we can purchase a six pack of beer.  Like I did the other day.

When I left the house that afternoon, I did not intend to engage in any White Trash activity. It was 3:30, neither of my kids was submitting to any semblance of naptime, but were instead pinching, pushing and screaming at each other, and it was taking every ounce of power in every nook and cranny of my being not to tie them to their respective beds and go for a twenty-mile bike ride.

Instead, I managed to convince my children that taking a trip to our closest Starbucks was the absolute greatest thing we could be doing in the entire galaxy, and they needed to get their overtired little butts in the car pronto or I'd enjoy a lowfat mocha frappacino with light whip without them.

(Side Note: Rollie has gotten wise to my threats to leave the house without him.  About a month ago, after exhausted every effort to get him out of the house with bribery, I finally told him I was leaving without him.

"Are you going far, far away?" he asked.
"Well, not really.  I'm going to the grocery store."
"...Will you be gone a long, long time?"
"I don't know, Rollie.  Maybe like, an hour."
"Like as long as a Little Bear show?"
"As long as two Little Bear shows."
"Will you bring me home a special treat?"
"Um, noooo.  You need to come with me right now."
"But you can leave without me if you'll be right back."
"Don't tempt me like that, kid."

So yes, there is a definite shelf-life to this threat. Once your kid is around 3-ish, it can seriously backfire. Unless you fully intend to leave without him. Which I can completely understand. Oftentimes I am very tempted to buy an automatic cat feeder, fill it with Kix, and go to my nearest Barnes and Noble for some peace and quiet.)

Anyway, I had no intention of making it to Starbucks with my darling children.  I was convinced that before we were even halfway there, their drool would already be crustifying on their unconscious, cherubic faces.  So sure was I of this, that I didn't bother putting any pants on Elsa (although she was sporting a pair of Big Girl Undies since Jeff and I are still living under the delusion that she will be potty-trained before college). I myself was clad in ratty short-shorts and a tank top, since I wasn't going to be exiting my car under any circumstances. I'm pretty sure Rollie was fully dressed, although it was likely in something he'd selected himself, like a too-small t-shirt and a pair of sweat shorts that make him run "super fast."

We made it all the way to Starbucks, me checking in the review mirror every two seconds to see if they were about to drift off. But they were, in fact, dancing in their seats to the radio, excited at the prospect of getting a Starbucks Milk. (Yes, my children are spoiled. Yes, they get over-priced boxes of glorified vanilla ice cream whenever I go to Starbucks, which is why I try to avoid going unless it's a Code Red Desperate Attempt To Get Them To Nap.  Which, I realize after typing this out, makes my children seem so f-ing obnoxious.  Sorry.)

So now I had two kids who weren't sleeping but instead happily slurping on milk, I was not thrilled at the prospect of going back home and hearing them bitch at each other again, but I was really at a loss for something else to do with them short of the whole tying them to their beds idea. And then I received a text from my sister that she wanted me to send out a copy of my book to a friend. Yay! A chore! A task I could complete with the kids in tow! Horray for life's little distractions!

And so it came to pass that I pulled into my neighborhood BP gas station to patronize the tiny post office branch that also sells lotto tickets and nudie mags.  I freed Elsa and Rollie, shoved their grubby feet into their grubby crocs, and escorted them into the convenience store, actutely aware that to a passerby, I looked very much like a frazzled mom making a beer run so she could make it through the rest of the day with her two unruly brats. Okay, so I guess that passerby would be pretty much correct.

As my children systematically destroyed the fake crocodile head display by the Slurpie machine, I packaged my book and dropped it on the counter, then whipped out my debit card to pay.  The man behind the counter shook his head and pointed at the printed sign taped to the wall.  Minimum Credit Card Purchase $10.00.

"All right," I sighed.  "Let me go find seven dollars worth of stuff. Be right back."

I summoned the children.  "Come on, you monkeys," I said. "Let's pick out some candy."

My suddenly compliant children marched up and down the aisles with me, fingering cellephane bags of gummy vermin, candy corn, red hots and sweet tarts.  I attempted to steer them toward maybe something less vile, like Combos, but then Elsa began grabbing rolls of Mentos off the shelf and shoving them into her mouth, while Rollie became obsessed with finding his elusive Gummy Whale (see Just Call Me Captain Ahab). And suddenly I saw this situation getting out of hand.

"Forget it," I snatched a soggy roll of Spree from Elsa, stuffed a wrinkled bag of M&M's back in its display box and dragged my now whining children over to the beer cooler.  The six-pack of Bud Light beckoned, its bottles clinking delightfully as I pulled it from the shelf and brought it up to the front, along with Elsa's slobbery Mentos and Rollie's pack of gummy sharks.

"Here," I said, swiping my card.  My total was $10.93.

"Would you like a bag?" the man asked.

"Um...sure." I suppose I could at least pretend I hadn't just bought beer and sugar at a gas station with my pantless, rowdy children.  A six-pack shaped plastic bag was the perfect disguise.

"Pee-pee, Momma!" Elsa screeched, tugging at my frayed jean-shorts.

"Okay, just a second," I grabbed my wallet and bag, and hustled the children into the gas station bathroom before Elsa peed all over the gritty floor.  And with that, I crossed over onto a higher plane of White Trash. A plane I have never entered before.  A plane I was pretty sure was only theoretical until now.

I burst into the bathroom, barking at my children to not touch, look at or breath on anything within a ten-foot radius. I parked my bag of beer on the floor beside the less disgusting of the two stalls and yanked off Elsa's undies. As I held her, limp and heavy as a garbage bag full of diapers, and dangled her over the toilet.  Behind me I heard Rollie turning the faucet on and off and giggling.

"Rollie, I told you not to touch anything."

"I need to wash my hands."

"I'm sure you do, but wait until I can help you."

He didn't respond, but a few seconds later, the room went completely dark.

"ROLLIE!" I gripped Elsa, who had peed maybe two milliliters and was now starting to squirm. "Turn. The. Light. Back. On. RIGHT. NOW."

"...I can't find it."

"Oh for the love...." I held Elsa to me and shuffled over to the wall, praying I wouldn't drop her or run into the wall or, God forbid, kick over my beer and shatter the bottles all over the place.

I ran my hand across the slimy tiles until I found the switch. I looked around the bathroom, at my son, whose shirt was soaked through, at my six pack with Elsa's undies and my wallet balanced precariously on top, and finally in the mirror, where I saw Elsa's dimply bottom resting on my arm, her hair hanging in her eyes as she laughed and pointed at our reflection. Yes, it was indeed a funny picture. Classic. And I'm sure anyone who barged into the bathroom and discovered us like this would instantly think, White Trash convention in Stall Two.

Hey, he wears jean shorts, too!
Which is why I try not to be too judgmental when I encounter a situation like this at my local convenience store, WalMart lot or McDonald's drive thru.  I understand that under extreme duress, we can sometimes transform into less polished, more frazzled versions of ourselves.  Like Gregor Samsa in Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Or Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, only with smaller boobs.

So that is my White Trash Phenomenon theory.  I'm gonna go drink my ten-dollar-and-ninety-three-cent beer now.


  1. Oh my gosh!!! I've had so many 'comedy of errors' days like that when the children were small - what memories, what memories! When you're holding Elsa just after the lights come on, your description IS truly classic. Thanks for the laugh!!! Been there, needed the reminder!!!

  2. Too funny that you posted this because I was having similar thoughts the other day. Before kids, I used to judge people and wonder what they were thinking. Now that I have two, I'm sure I've been judged as white trash several times.

    By the way, I've done the Starbucks thing too, hoping they would crash. I've told my kids they are going on a ride to get some fresh air or see the pretty sun (they would live outside if I would let them). When I get to Starbucks I use the drive thru and I've taught my kids it is a mommy place, there is nothing for them there (I know, a bit mean, but oh well). Usually they are crashed out by then though and it doesn't matter.

  3. Funny you should mention the Hulk... do you think he gives a rat's patootie what anyone thinks of him? (Psst! The answer is NO!) Sure, he's the Hulk. You think he'll beat you into a fine mist of blood if you make fun of him, but Captain America and Spiderman tease him all the time, and they're still alive. Hulk knows that other people's opinions of him don't matter... at least as long as he's not destroying any major cities.

    The point is, you can see yourself as being as powerful as you want to be. If you're going to label yourself, label yourself Wonder Woman or Robin Williams or Eric Estrada or Lee Remick. Label yourself as classy, smart, funny, or a bold trend-setter. The only way anyone else can make you feel bad is if you let them, so don't let them.

    (And by the same token, in the last 24 hours someone pretty smart told me that the only way you can't get published nowadays is if you don't have the guts to do it. There's a metaphor in there somewhere; you find it.)

  4. Wow, you've just raised the bar to an entirely new WT level Perfect 10!!!!

  5. Reminds me of the time I stopped for gas at a gas station/party store out of desperation on the way to go Xmas shopping and my three yo son got away from me for a second and broke a bottle of liquor on the floor. And his expensive leather orthopedic shoes. And his clothes. And me. No shopping - let's go home now. With the windows all rolled down. In November. Try explaining *that* odor to your husband. "Honey, why does Matt smell like Jack Daniels?" "Ummm...."