I loaded up the Jeep around eleven last night and at five-thirty this morning, the kids and I pulled out for Lakeside. When we arrived in town, we pulled into the parking lot of the Blue Plate restaurant, which is literally around the corner from our cottage. The second after we walked into the restaurant, Van vomited all over the floor. A waitress rushed over with a bucket and a mop and began cleaning the entryway. I wiped Van off and fed him breakfast. After that, he was fine. Riding in the backseat for an hour-and-a-half on an empty stomach apparently hadn’t set well with him.
I started unpacking when we got to the cottage and began figuring out where I was going to put everyone. Hope and her two boys were on their way up. They were staying for a few days. Charlie was coming up for the weekend, and my sister and her two boys were coming up after that. I was starting to stress.
Max had brought his BB gun and while I was unpacking and making shopping lists in my head, Max kept pestering me to let him shoot.
“No,” I told him repeatedly. “Please watch Van. Take him outside. Blow some bubbles, play ball, help me out, please.”
Max took Van outside and, moments later, was screaming at him for spilling all the bubble solution. He yanked the bubble paraphernalia away from Van and Van began screaming at Max and shoved him. Max screamed back at Van. Van snatched one of Max’s toy guns and whipped it on the ground smashing it. I hurried outside, packed the boys into the car, and headed for the grocery store.
We walked into the grocery store and I sat Van in the grocery cart seat. Max jumped on the back end of the cart and I began pushing it. Max yanked his body from side to side, making the cart sway with his body weight.
“Stop it,” I snapped. “Get off! You’re making it hard to push.”
Max jumped off. He jumped back on. He jumped off. He jumped back on.
“Knock it off,” I yelled. I began picking through a pile of cantaloupe. Max grabbed the shopping cart and ran down an aisle with it. Van began screaming and laughing. Max slalomed around the produce, cutting people off. He skidded to a stop and left Van and the cart in the middle of another aisle and ran over to a Twinkie display. I marched over to the cart with my cantaloupe and pushed it past glaring shoppers.
“Can we get these, can we get these?” Max asked running up to the cart with a box of Twinkies.
“No. Put them back.”
Max put the Twinkies back, ran to the cart, and trailed after me making siren sounds and flailing his arms. I seriously wanted to smack him. We checked out, hopped back into the car, and drove back to the cottage. Hope’s SUV was in the driveway and she and her boys, Sid and Robin, were unloading their stuff. Max jumped out of the Jeep as soon as I put it in park and hopped on his bike. He weaved his bike in and out of tight spots between the two vehicles and the cottage. He careened toward Van, skidded to a stop, and hopped off before hitting him. Max ran to the Jeep while I was unloading groceries and pulled his BB gun out of the back. He began waving it around and I snatched it from him and threw it back in the Jeep.
“That’s where it’s staying for a week!” I yelled. “You don’t touch that thing without permission. And waving it around little kids, are you nuts?!”
“Wow, he has a BB gun?” Hope said. “If you lived where I live you’d be ostracized.”
“That’s why I live with the gentiles,” I snapped.
Hope clucked her tongue and stared at me with her mouth hanging open. I knew I shouldn’t have snapped like that, but I was at my limit.
Hope and her boys put their stuff in the cottage and I put the groceries away. We headed down to the beach and Lake Michigan looked like the sea. Huge waves were crashing on the shore and I knew before putting my foot in that there was a strong undercurrent. Max jumped into the water and began swimming away from the shore. I screamed at him to swim back. He slowly turned and swam back. As he neared the shore, I felt like yanking him out by the hair. I was acutely aware that I’d been yelling at Max since Hope arrived, and I could feel her silent judgment. In a calm and measured voice, I told Max how dangerous the lake was and gave him parameters for where he could and could not swim. My friends never seem to yell at their kids. Their kids could be behaving hideously and they’d pull them aside and say, “Now Sweetie, you know you shouldn’t blah, blah, blah. Please don’t yuddah, yuddah, yuddah, okay Sweetie?” Maybe it’s a bullshit show they put on for non-family members, but I’d have to be on happy pills to act like that. God I want a drink!