the Eldest is going complex on me, and fast. We've got some tricks of the trade set up to help him explain the inner crannies of his skull to me, and thank heavens: turns out, the kid's not so much lacking in crannies. His favorite happens to be something I came up with in desperation one night, when I was holding a bottle of Amicar* and he was furious and miserable at the idea of one more dose of the stuff.
As was right and proper - it tastes like old feet.
The kid wailed, and I talked, then hugged, then gave up. Okay, I said, if you are the bottle, and this (balancing it on my hand) is you when you are fine, and this (the bottle lying flat on my palm) is you now, how did you get here? The kid blinked, and the image stuck.
In the car today, the Eldest muttered something furious about being hungry, and my general cruelty about feeding him. I offered the usual snack bag, and he continued muttering. Finally, he looked me in the eye, and said, you probably want to ask me about my bottle status. Well, I should've.
Five minutes later, we were standing in front of rows of baskets: Cortlands, Red Delicious, Granny Smiths, Macouns, apples bonanza, with the odd Anjou pear. The Eldest chose a basket, then reached for another. I suggested that one big bag of apples was enough.
Kid lost it, right then and there.
You never give me anything I want! You just want to keep it all for yourself! If you gave me 20% then you are keeping the other 80% for yourself and just being selfish!
(I blinked at the math, but the Eldest was in a groove and kept roaring)
You don't care about what I want! I want to kill you! You have to do this or I will kill you and leave you in pieces!
I stopped blinking, and looked the kid in the eye. Okay, we're not getting two baskets of apples, but we could trade one in for a different kind. The kid whacked me in the arm, albeit half-heartedly. His roar, however, was still full force.
You don't get to choose that! I'm going to do this! I am going to stand here and say that I want to hurt you until we can get the green apples!
Thinking it over, the Toddles told his brother that yes! I want that too! But that was little comfort. You stay out of it, snarled the Eldest. You are not part of the conversation.
Around us, people were very carefully trying not to meet my eyes.
Sheesh, I thought. But at least the kid's freaking over apples, right? Right. I got down to the Eldest's eye level, and explained. We can work on a compromise, if you'd like. He hissed. Okay, then, let's take a break and go to another aisle. We'll come back to the apples in a few minutes. He roared. Right. I bit the word off. If we can't have a compromise, and we can't take a break, then this isn't working. Time to go.
Furious, the Eldest grabbed the shopping cart and started pushing it down the aisle. Stuck in the cart, a horrified Toddles wailed. I want my mummy! cried the Toddles. Don't take me away from my mummy! The Eldest looked up, startled, and tried to soothe him. Wrapped in his anger? frustration? tiredness? the Eldest had forgotten that the Toddles was even there.
I slapped my hand onto the cart, and only then got a good view of the Eldest's face. Though his voice was caring and gentle, his face was distorted, wavering on tears. With one hand on the cart (and the Toddles), I hoisted my bum onto a clear bit of countertop, and pulled the child into my arms. I do love you, I told him. I love you, I love you, I love you. And he dissolved.
My bottle is all the way down, he wept. And with the Toddles holding one hand, and the Eldest wrapped around my lap, we sat there for a while. You are one of the precious things in my world, I told him, and I said it again and again as he cried himself out. I love you, I love you, I love you. He breathed into my shoulder for a moment, and wailed again. It's because I'm so hungry - and oh, my head still hurts. Damned head's been headachy for two days now - his and mine. Bloody pollen or something. (not a head bleed not a head bleed not a head bleed not a head bleed)
We stayed there until he was done, dosed, and both boys were fed an emergency pair of fruit leathers. A rather pleasant while later, we went home with a full cart of yumminess, said he, and two cheerful boys. And a couple of little bags of chips, because it seems that metaphorical Amicar bottles require the occasional caloric oomph.
Oddly enough, so did mine.
*Amicar, or aminocaproic acid, is a secondary medication that we use. It helps adjust the acidity of the mouth and other mucous membranes, so that clots don't break down too quickly.