Errands with Batman, or Why I Can Never Again Visit the Caldwell Post Office

I must begin with an apology……this is not the blog that some people have been waiting for.  I have been working diligently on a long narrative about the awesome family vacation that the Desperate Family recently shared with my in-laws and Desperate Hubby’s extended family.  I am about halfway through that blog, which is full of pictures and observations and a lasting historical perspective on what was one of our most fun family vacations to date.

It is my personal policy to try to blog subjects in more or less chronological order, and to always finish one piece before beginning the next.

Sometimes, though, a day happens upon one that must immediately be recorded, both to insure that the events are remembered always, to hopefully be laughed about later, and to try to purge the mind of said events before waking up the next morning to face another day.

I’ll begin with saying that we have had a busy and enjoyable past several days.  The kids and I visited our local fair, the Canyon County Something To Crow About Extravaganza, three out of the four days it ran, petting countless goats and sheep, watching kamikaze 4-Hers on half-broke horses race around the arena chasing horned cattle, and riding the roller coaster (which was the biggest draw in the tiny rattletrap carnival) approximately forty-seven times.

We’ve enjoyed two sleep-overs with friends in the last three days, an event that is as exciting as it can be exhausting, and tends to whip the kids, Batman in particular, into a frenzy of barely controlled excitement and an unconquerable stream of silly, nonsensical and loud verbal diatribes.

On top of that, I am preparing myself, my horse and my household for upcoming back-to-back three-day weekends of horse shows, which is fun and exhilarating but also a little stressful.  This weekend will also be the first time we’ve taken Batman along on a horse show trip, so that adds a whole new element of planning to the party.

Today I took Batman and Annabelle with me when I went to the trainer’s to ride. I had planned to drop him off at a pre-school play date for a couple of hours, but he was wound up from a fun sleepover with friends last night and begged to be allowed to come along with us.  It was with some misgiving that I concurred.

We took Annabelle’s horse Grumpy along, and Batman was left to his own devices, which mainly entailed swinging his newly acquired plastic flashing Ninja sword around the faces of the tethered two-year old colts being saddled, whining loudly nonstop that he was hot and thirsty, then sitting outside the arena playing in the dust and asking every 3.2 seconds when we were going to leave.

After I finally finished riding, I had a few errands to run.  I normally try to avoid running errands with Batman since he is often impatient with the pace mandated by public carryings-on, but today I had no choice.  After dropping Grumpy and the horse trailer off at home, I stopped by McDonald’s and got the kids Happy Meals, which featured a ‘Minion’ toy that makes a charming little whistling sound when blown on.

From McDonald’s, I drove to the local Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed in the truck.  In the Jiffy Lube there were two rows of three seats, each row occupied by a lone woman.  I squeezed the kids and I into two seats (feeling pretty glad that I had only gotten a diet coke at MacDonald’s) and proceeded to try to keep the children occupied for the next half hour.

Batman was pretty good for about ten minutes.  Then he proceeded to blow maniacally on his little Minion toy, getting glares from both the woman seated next to us in our seat row and the Jiffy Lube man trying to sell me a new air filter (I felt so guilty that I went ahead and bought the filter even though I was pretty sure we didn’t need it).

Annabelle perused the small window sill of cardboard display pamphlets, finally selecting one and using the pen politely requested from me to fill in the order blank and circle interesting looking pictures on the glossy facade.  Batman took the same pamphlet, spread it out to it’s fullest map-like size on the floor and proceeded to lay spread-eagled on the filthy linoleum to read it, blocking all the available walking space in the little waiting area.

I pulled him to his feet with a hiss that would have frightened the family cats, and he then moved his attention to a “Ducks Unlimited” periodical he selected from the magazine rack, leaving the huge unfolded pamphlet exactly where he had left it.  Sensing my impending unhappiness, Annabelle quickly picked up and re-folded the pamphlet, leaving her brother to sit down at his leisure to read the magazine in the newly vacated chair next to us.

Unfortunately, the poor Jiffy Lube man chose that moment to come and tell us our truck was finished.  Batman immediately began squalling that he wasn’t done with his article, and he wanted to stay until he finished the duck story (he doesn’t yet know how to read.)

I finally got him away by promising him I’d buy a duck magazine the next time we went to the store, and we moved along to our next destination:  the local post office.  I really had misgivings about this stop.  I needed to certify the mailing of our quarterly employment taxes, but in general (and for no particular reason) I just have a squeamish feeling about taking my kids to the post office.  Since the taxes technically didn’t have to be mailed until tomorrow, I nearly weakened.  Then I thought, “This is ridiculous!  It is a ten minute stop, max.  How bad can it be?”

I got a good parking spot in front of the building.  The kids and I walked spryly in the front doors, and I noted with relief that there was only one person in line for the single clerk, a long-time employee  who seems to always be working when I go to the post office and who reminds me a lot of the television (commercial) star, Mr. Clean.

I quickly filled out the green and white forms for my certified envelopes while gently reminding my children that the brightly colored mailing packages were not placed in the rack behind us for them to pop the bubbles in the padded plastic façade.

Our turn behind the counter came up relatively quickly, and I herded the children up to Mr. Clean’s window.  Annabelle began playing with the curly wire attaching the non-functioning pen to the counter top, while Batman was drawn to a small display of packing tape which was just to the right of Mr. C’s window opening.  My boy immediately picked up a roll of the tape and began examining it carefully, eyeing me all the while.  Knowing my son’s predilection for taping objects together, I knew this wasn’t a safe or desirable distraction for him.

I asked Batman in a neutral voice to please put the tape back where he got it.  He backed slowly away from me like you would when you passed a noticeably crazy person on the street, turning the tape over and over in his hands.  I spoke slightly louder, noting as I glanced in my son’s direction that a line was beginning to build in the small room.  About four or five good citizens had joined us to witness our mailing endeavors.

Batman continued to toy with the roll of tape.  I reached over calmly and grabbed the only part of him I could easily reach, which was an upper arm.  I squeezed just hard enough for him to know I meant business, saying “I asked you to put that tape back!” in a quiet but (I hoped) threatening voice.

At that point Batman screamed as though he had touched a hot stove.  “OOOWWWWWW!  OWWWWWW!  Mom you’re hurting me. YOU HURT ME!!”

I won’t lie to you.  I really did want to hurt him at that point.

But what I did was calmly drop his arm and look back at Mr. Clean with what I hoped was a conciliatory gaze.  Mr. Clean surprisingly and summarily threw my half-processed letters on the scale, walked around the divider between his station and the empty one next to him, reached over the counter with an ape-like arm and grabbed the tape out of a very surprised Batman’s hand.  He very distinctly placed the tape on the tippy top of the little display, seemingly out of Batman’s reach.

Unfortunately, there were still three rolls of packing adhesive on the very bottom of the display, and as soon as Mr. Clean was on the other side of the counter again my little progeny looked me full in the face and reached up and ran his fingers lightly over all three of the rolls still within his reach.

I was mortified, more humiliated by Mr. Clean’s reaction than by my son’s actual behavior (which although annoying was really not that big of a deal).  I leaned toward my son and said something like “You stop it right now!”.  He continued to smirk at me, and while he didn’t actually take another roll of tape down off the display, he continued to graze them back and forth with his hand just to let me know he could if he wanted to.

Mr. Clean finished up my transaction in record time with nary a word spoken to me, not a thank you or even his usual “Need stamps today?” question, which was almost as humiliating as watching him jerk the tape out of my mischievous son’s hand.

I grabbed my receipt, and, pointedly keeping my eyes on the glass doors that meant freedom, grabbed Annabelle’s hand and walked toward the lobby. Batman came along at his own pace, as usual, lagging several steps behind us.  I passed through the propped-open right hand double-door, and didn’t turn around until I heard a distinct “clonk” of a head hitting glass.  I looked over my left shoulder.  Batman had purposely walked into the closed left half of the door, bouncing off dramatically as though he were a bird hitting a window.  I was halfway across the lobby, steps from the outside staircase that would lead to our truck and away from humiliation.  “Zach, come on!” I hissed to him.

My sweet little boy backed up a step, then walked into the door again.  Harder.  The people in line were all staring.  “ZACHARY – please…..”  I begged him.  Clonk.   Back two steps.  Clonk.  He had a huge smile on his face; I knew he was doing it on purpose, but I’m not sure if the other people in the post office did.  I implored him with my eyes.  He began making a mewling sound.  “Mom, I’m stuck!  I’m stuck!  I can’t get out!!”

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.  The absurdity of the situation won out though, and I couldn’t help but let out a choked giggle as I walked the three steps back to where he stood captive.  “OK, buddy, I admit that is kind of funny, but we’re leaving now.”  I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him through the door.  Two of the women who were waiting in line were laughing out loud by now, and that made me feel a little better.

Once we got to the car, though, the embarrassment took over once again.  “You are in so much trouble Zachary Morgan!  SO MUCH TROUBLE!!  When we get home you are getting a spanking.  A REAL spanking!!”  I meant it too.

Batman is the kind of kid that rarely gets in trouble.  He is a funny, extremely bright little boy, and admittedly his charm and poetic timing tend to keep him from a lot of disciplinary actions that a less-suave kid might encounter in life.  He has never had a real spanking in his days – maybe a swat or two now and then, but never anything that remotely qualifies as a spanking.  This time though I was mad.  Really mad. I was going to make an impression on him. Literally.

On the way home Annabelle kept apologizing for playing with the curly wired pen.  She said “I’m so sorry mama.  I’m so sorry mama.”  She knew trouble was brewing.  Not Batman though.  “How hard are you gonna spank me, huh?” he asked several times during the ten minute drive, blowing on the flames of my dwindling anger just enough to keep them alive.

I pulled up in front of our house and hit the garage door opener.  “Out of the car right now you two!” I said.  Batman looked at me.  “Are you REALLY going to spank me mom?”  “YES, I am really going to spank you.  In the house right now!”

Batman jumped out of the truck and followed me in the garage, even a little more fleet of foot than usual.  “Mom?”  he yelled as I slammed through the screen door into the kitchen.  “WHAT?!” I snarled.

“If you really ARE gonna spank me, could you please wait until I take my tennis shoes off?  My feet are really hot!”

I tried not to laugh.  Batman was looking at me with a look really similar to the one below, though I’m not sure what he was doing at the particular point in time this photo actually was taken.


My heart wasn’t in it, but I did give Batman a couple of perfunctory swats.  They weren’t hard, and over the top of his long puffy gym shorts I’m sure he barely felt them.  He did cry though.  But only because I wouldn’t let him watch any TV for the rest of the afternoon.

A few minutes ago he came into the office where I sit typing this.  “Mom,” he said.  “I just wanted to tell you that if that was as hard of a spanking as you can give, you really aren’t a very good spanker.  It didn’t hurt at all.”

I gave him a kiss and sent him to bed.

After all, the Middleton post office is just a few minutes away anyhow.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures | Leave a comment

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