Location: Union, NJ
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1:44PM on Jul 16
One Christmas, my brother and his family traveled from NY to FL to celebrate the holiday with family. One day during the visit my poor niece, "Punkin'," just turned three, was a bear, grumpy and out of sorts. Her mother, Kerri, and I decided to take her with us to a store, hoping that a change of environment would lighten her mood. Hindsight being 20/20: bad move.
As we entered the store, Punkin' was immediately greeted by the strategic placement of a display of children's books and wanted one. Kerri said that if she was good, we would get one for her as we left the store.
Well, my darling Punkin' was anything but good. Pulling items off the shelf, ramming her little kid's cart into people, and yelling throughout the store. Clearly, not a good day for this normally sweet child.
As we went to leave, Punkin' again saw the display and screamed for her book. To Kerri's credit, she said no, explaining that the behavior was not appropriate and could not be rewarded. I should mention here that my sister-in-law was a young mother, just 20 at this time and I was just 15. Well, Punkin' loses it and just breaks down.
She throws herself onto the floor, starts screaming for her book, and crying like a, well, like a baby. At this point, Kerri loses it slightly as well. Kerri takes the grocery cart and says she'll check out and I can take care of Punkin'. I would imagine I looked slightly like a gaping fish.
I attempted to persuade Punkin' to get up; I tried to bribe her with the offer to carry her; I took a firm tone and ordered her up. Nothing worked. Finally, I took her kid's cart to return it and that got her attention. She jumped up to demand her cart back. I lifted it high and she chased me as I returned the cart to its proper place. As I let it go, she took the opportunity to grab again for the cart. And I grabbed for her, carrying her under my arm rather like a football, and headed to checkout where her mother was. Punkin' cried the whole way over.
Frustrated, and young, I transferred Punkin' to her mother's arms as soon as we got to the checkout. No sooner did Kerri have her arms around Punkin' before Punkin' put all of her pre-school education to work for her. Punkin' "desperately" looked at the cashier and screamed, "Payer lady, payer lady, not my mommy. Stranger, stranger. Payer lady, payer lady, call 911. Not my mommy."
Oh, you can imagine the embarrassment for both Kerri and me. We were beside ourselves. Looking back, I can only be grateful that Punkin looks exactly like Kerri and that her bad behavior had drawn everyone's attention throughout the store experience so no one seemed surprised. The day would have only been completed by someone actually calling 911.
As we left the store, Punkin' calmed down again and in her sweetest, gentlest voice, said to Kerri, "We not tellin' daddy, mommy?" Oh, we told daddy and everyone else.
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