|Zoe has NEVER been one to mince words, yo!|
And Zoe was at that age where she'd just started to get really good at talking, so she was able to articulate her distaste at being told what to do, so she was Not Happy with me as we barreled down Rt. 49 in my red Grand Cherokee that day.
Truth be told, I was having second thoughts, third thoughts about venturing all the way to Corning Weg on my own with Zoe as I drove. I was used to venturing out only when I had someone with me, if Zoe was along, so one of us could keep the forward momentum going with the shopping cart, and one of us could see to Zoe's needs. But that day, I felt BRAVE!
Zoe was in a mood, though. She didn't want to be in the Jeep. She didn't want to be in her carseat. She didn't want to go to Wegmans. She kept wailing and kicking the back of my seat. She wasn't hurt. She just didn't want to be doing what we were doing.
I didn't want to listen to the cantankerous caterwauling from the back seat, and I really didn't cotton too well to having the back of my seat kick-kick-kicked like that, so as we got to the spaghetti of interchanges just outside of Painted Post, I told her that if she kicked the back of my seat one more time, I was going to pull over and give her a spankin'!
Quick side note: I never relied on A Spankin' to keep Zoe in check. I'd been one of those parents who said "never ever will I spank my child!" before she was born. Once she was a toddler, I learned a more nuanced approach to parenting than "all the spankings or none of the spankings."
Well, as we whooshed onto the Riverside strand of road-spaghetti, to hit Bridge Street from what becomes Dennison Parkway, Zoe gave the back of my seat a big, defiant "So There!" kick, and my hackles stood up. I pulled over onto the shoulder just before the Benjamin Patterson Bridge and started unbuckling my seatbelt. I was angry, but I don't think I really planned to drag my surly nineteen-month-old from the Jeep to spank her butt alongside the road like that.
However, I heard from the backseat in a little helium-balloon voice:
"Uh-Oh... Shit just got REAL!"
Well, I had to hurry out of the Jeep right then, because my chest had lurched with one of those peals of laughter that wakes up a person's long-dead ancestors, didn't it? It had been such a tense drive to that point so far, and I was stressed, and anything would have tripped my laughter trigger at that point. But also, it was forbidden laughter, because I didn't want to encourage Zoe in such a precocious use of Anglo-Saxon language derivatives, BUT- it sounded so hilarious coming from her little cookie-voice, and she had the words and music down pat far more deftly than I've heard from some adults.
I knew Zoe was watching me with rapt attention from through the dark-tinted back windows of the Jeep, so I had to make it look like I was being shaken with shudders of anger, instead of trying to snarfle down laughter as I tried to compose myself.
When I finally did, I opened her car door and saw her big brown eyes were huge in her head.
"Mommy, I'm sorry! Please don't spank me! PLEASE!" she begged.
I put a stern look on my face.
"Do you know what you did that made me so mad?" I asked her.
"Yes, I do," she said, nodding solemnly. "I kicked the back of your seat after you told me not to kick the back of your seat!"
"You gonna do it again?" I asked.
"No, Mommy!" she said, shaking her head no for emphasis.
"Okay. Are we going to have a nice shopping trip at Wegmans today?"
"Yes!" she said.
So I leaned in and kissed her cheek and we got on our way. True to our words, we had a nice shopping trip at Wegmans. If I remember right, she got a little something from the overpriced trinket aisle.
I know there have been myriad other times since that day when Zoe has recognized that "Uh-oh- shit just got real!" She's a smart kid. In addition to having a solid command of the Dark Language Arts, she also displays great wisdom in when not to demonstrate it. And in that respect, the Apprentice has surpassed the Master.