Monday, May 2, 2016

Know Your Audience

I’d finally had enough.
This is my circus. This is my monkey.

Either blood was going to be spilled, or I was going to go insane.

I knew which direction I was leaning.

I took my two oldest boys—Porter and Tristan—with me on a trip to Home Depot.  I generally love it because, unless you’re in the light fixture aisle, there’s not too much they can break.  Plenty of stuff to damage them, but that just toughens them up, right?  We were checking out from the plant and garden area, and the man in front of us was struggling to figure out the swipe machine.  Did he have chip in his card?  Did he know the PIN?  Would he be able to find his way out of a wet paper sack with directions and a map?

All questions that the checker, the customer and I didn’t have answers to.

Meanwhile, my boys dashed madly about, picking up candy bars, drinks, random tools and asking if we could buy them. 

“Please, please please?” they chorused.

“No,” I replied.  Which they heard as, “Ask again, and whine more.”

The gods of parenting demanded action or a sacrifice.

“Tristan,” I said, and pointed down the long aisle with bags of soil, decorative rocks and fertilizer.  “Run down there and find the bags of brown bark.  Come back and tell me how much it is.”

Tristan took off at a wild pace, heedless of the “Caution: Slippery!” signs and hard, sharp edges all around him.

“Porter,” I said, pointing in the opposite direction.  “Go find out the price of those half-barrels.”

Porter, sensing this might be a competition, ran with a gangly, loping trot.

I sighed relief.  I only had mild interest in what the prices were.  I wasn’t going to buy either item.  The man in front of me had given up on the new-fangled technology and resorted to paying in cash.  The checker gave me an apologetic smile and shrugged.  I pushed my cart forward and we got down to the business of checking out.

As I finished paying, I called out to Porter and Tristan tom come back.  They ran toward me with the same enthusiasm as Mongol warriors closing in on a small village.

“What did you find?” I asked.

“I can’t find the price,” Porter replied.

“I can’t read,” Tristan informed me.

Fair enough.