lunch time: le pep talk

so today it took a little longer than expected at the grocery store
(with both the boys)
(in the racecar shopping cart)
(i know, i thought it would be super fast, too)
(when it took
90 minutes
i was so surprised, too)

and instead of making it home in time to make vegetable soup
and grilled cheese sandwiches
and fresh-cut apple slices
i tossed a plastic box of deli-packed popcorn chicken in the cart
and then on the way home i drove thru starbucks
and bought a fruit and cheese box

our three-person shitstorm knocked the front door off its hinges
and the boys scampered
and floundered up the carpeted stairs
as i chanted
up
up
up
up
up
to the table
to the table
go to the table
table
table
table
NOT THE BATHROOM

they finally found the table
by way of the bathroom
because sometimes
you have to let them find their own way
and also i had to pee.

they sat before the feast
a smorgasbord of plastic boxes
cold popcorn chicken
wedges of cheese
apple slices
almonds and cranberries
(chew chew chew)
a single cellophane-wrapped packet
of thin, seeded crackers.

they ate
bopping and twitching,
chewing and munching,
doing full rotations in their chairs
flicking their feet under the table
unconsciously
like the coked-up do
or like children who have been served
popcorn chicken
on a monday.

i was
disappointed
in myself.

you are barely surviving
i said to myself
in the soft, sad voice
of the teacher who told me once
that i'd better marry well
you used to be a person
people thought of as a person.
not anymore.
now you are one flat tire away
from total defeat
look at you
drive thru lunch boxes
grocery store popcorn chicken
you oughta be ashamed of yourself.

i didn't disagree
because the forks were plastic
because a starbucks machine had sliced the cheese
and the apples
instead of mommy's loving
knife-wielding hand

because vegetables

because drive-thru.

but then
i did disagree.

c'est quoi ce bordel
i said to myself
in the french-accented, bullshitless voice
of the teacher who told me once
that i looked fucking weird
(because it was true
i did look fucking weird
and someone needed to say it)
get your head out of your ass.

mon dieu
you took two toddlers to the store
in the race car shopping cart
and you did not hobble the elderly
and you did not topple the wine
that alone
is a victory

even in the low-to-moderate state of alarm
that is
grocery shopping with two kids in the race car cart
you were aware of the time
and of your slowly-deflating children
and you thought
i need some chicken
and then
zut-alors
(which is french for
like
damn!)
you got the chicken.

(for people who have never operated in
said low-to-moderate state of alarm
it might not feel like an accomplishment
to realize that you need something
and then successfully locate
and purchase that something
but we know.
mais oui
we know.)

donc
you got your children back in the car
clipped
strapped
safe
though they try so hard not to be
and you got them upstairs
and you fed them.

sacre bleu
you get to feel exhausted
you get to feel punch-drunk
you get to feel a little nervous
about how shit is going to go down this afternoon

but disappointed
au contraire
mon petit fromage
you do not get to have the nerve
the fucking GALL
to feel disappointed in yourself
today.


it can be nice
to have lots of voices in your head
when one of them
is french
and takes no shit.

he wants to learn to cut his food himself
knife in one hand
fork in the other

that's not food
that's a chicken nugget

shut le fuck up
this is tres
tres
amazing

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