One day when The Fiend was somewhere between four and five we were grocery shopping. It was the early evening and the store was packed with folks on their way home after a long hard day. Children of fourish years have a propensity for curiosity that, in the grocery store, can often led to messy results if a parent is not diligent. I was not feeling particularly diligent that night and after snapping at her several times to not juggle mayonnaise jars or bowl with salad dressing and canned tuna I came to the decision that the best course of action was containment.
So into the child seat on the cart The Fiend went. First of all it is important to understand that my daughter is an Amazon. She has always been a full head taller than all the kids in her preschool class, even when she was the youngest. The child seat on a grocery cart had become difficult for her at two and an exercise in flexibility at three. Putting her into the seat at four and a half was probably a minor miracle.
More importantly she was not pleased about being imprisoned. The horrible injustice of the situation was causing her to vibrate with righteous rage. She shook her tiny fist in fury and started to sputter. When she collected herself this is what she said, “You are denying me my right to move about freely. You can’t do that!”
You can imagine my surprise at her response. If I was more collected at the time I might have come up with a clever response like “You seem to be under the misimpression that you live in a democratic state” or “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” or “Yes I can because you are small and I’m still stronger than you.” But I was not so I stood there with my mouth hanging open.
The Fiend kept repeating this statement like a mantra and the people sharing the aisle with us began to snicker. I continued to stand there completely unable to summon a suitable response. A kindly older gentleman gripped my arm as he passed and said, “You are so screwed when she’s thirteen.”
“When she’s thirteen?” was my reply. This broke any restraint that the folks around me had been exercising. They were laughing unapologetically. And I realized I couldn’t blame them. Here was this monstrously tall preschooler, her feet practically brushing the ground, crammed into the child seat, red in the face, shaking her fists and decrying this unforgivable violation of her rights. And then there was me, standing there like the village idiot.
I succumbed to the absurdity of the situation and began to laugh. The Fiend tried valiantly to maintain her ire, but her overactive sense of justice was overridden by her love of entertaining. Once the crowd started laughing, she wanted to keep them laughing. So she started making jokes that four year olds make which are only funny because of the absolute conviction of the teller that they are. Eventually her floor show gave way to the bustle of people pulling together dinner.
We were able to finish our shopping trip with no additional incidents. The Fiend wasn’t angry anymore, I didn’t feel so stressed out and we had groceries. Life was good and my blatant disregard for The Fiend’s unalienable rights was forgotten.