Sunday, March 19, 2006

Will power

Two years, two months and nine days.

That’s how long I was able to hold off introducing Ittybit to the inherent evils of fast food.

Friday morning, as we dashed through a breakfast of pancakes she didn’t want, cereal she only nibbled, and fruit she just wanted to hold, I asked her what she really wanted to eat.

“NO REALLY!” I said, implying with as urgent a tone as I could muster that I was serious and there would be no more of this dilly-dallying about.
“Shawsheege,” she said happily.

Oh, of course, sausage – the only bit of fatty, artery clogging animal flesh our house was lacking that day.

“We don’t have any sausage, honey,” I said with the sweet dulcet tone ebbing back into my voice, “how about some of this yummy soy bacon?”

“Nooooooooooooooooo,” she moans.

And here’s where things go horribly wrong. (I know you’re all thinking … no, the SOY bacon was where things went awry.)

“Perhaps we can stop at the store … later,” I mumble.

Here’s a tip for any one who has ever made or even implied making a promise to a child hoping they would forget about it the minute they were strapped into a car seat and the neighborhood dogs — out with their owners for their morning constitutionals — go whizzing by the car: Don’t do it.

This is not your husband or wife. … This is a person, albeit a small one, who generally gets all the sleep they need and whose desire for things is not clouded by the hoops one must hop to acquire them. And you might as well know that there are no children on Earth gullible enough to be duped by a crazy woman in the driver’s seat pointing out the window and yelling, “Oh, honey, look at that cute puppy.”

Two seconds later. ...

“Shawsheege, Mama. Shawsheege, PEAASSSE!!!”

As we pass the grocery store I try to reason with her. “Honey we can’t go there now. We have to go to the bank and then to the babysitter. We’ll get some later.”
“No now. In there. Shawsheege in there, mommy.”

Just then, her sweet toddler voice is replaced by a loud, piercing cry, and foreign-sounding words begin to tumble out with sobs and “shawsheege.”

It’s no use. I check my pockets for change and, finding some, pull my car into line at the McDonald’s drive-thru. As I wait my turn I contemplate how much longer my commute to work will be now that I’ll be choosing a route that doesn’t include any glimpses of the golden arches.

Before I can chart the course, it’s my turn and I inch the car forward. I ask the box if I can just get a side-order of sausage, and the nicest, static-filtered voice I ever heard replied, “Oh, you sure can. Drive on up to the second window.”

The cashier laughs a little as I hand over a mountain of small coins and gives me a small bag in exchange. She waves at the toddler sitting in the backseat, who is wide-eyed as the pungent aroma of sausage fills the car.

“Oh, shawsheege,” she squeals in utter delight when she opens her package and finds a perfectly round patty steaming up at her.

“Shank you, mommy. Oh shank you,” she says, petting the folded box as if it were a kitten.

Before I pull away from the widow and drive into the rest of my day I ask her if she’s going to eat some.

“No. Save it fo’ later.”

I guess she just has more will power than I do.

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