I wish I had a video tape of this.
Middle Kid was two. I had to do some Christmas shopping and was at a gift shop in Sierra Madre, California. Sierra Madre is quaint and as out-of-the way as a town can get in the San Gabriel Valley, meaning it doesn't have a freeway, Route 66, Foothill Avenue, Huntington Drive, or Mission Boulevard running through it. It's packed right up against the foothills and is famous for its quaintness, its community-built Rose Parade entry, its search and rescue team, and its volunteer fire department. Firemen get the call in Sierra Madre via a horn that is the loudest quacker you ever heard in your life.
So. MK and I left the little gift shop. I had bought a lot of stuff, much of it breakable, and when we left my arms were so stacked with packages that I was having trouble just keeping it all balanced. Of course I didn't have a hand free to hold onto MK, but the car was only about a block away so I didn't anticipate a problem.
Mistake. Sensing his advantage, MK began walking down the sidewalk in the opposite direction from the car.
I called him. He ignored me. I called him again. He half-glanced at me over his shoulder and continued on his way. I yelled at him. He kept going. I started following him down the sidewalk, cajoling (okay, in a not-very-friendly voice), urging, pleading, threatening. Now and then he'd stop and look at me, but he would not come. I turned around and marched towards the car. He kept going in the wrong direction. I stopped and stared after him. I was tired. The packages were heavy. I needed divine intervention.
And I got it. The fire horn, which was situated on top of a poll right smack between us, started blasting out that horrible quacking sound, BRAAAAAGHHHHH BRAAAAAGHHHHH BRAAAAGHHHHH, so loud it was like an explosion inside our heads. MK stiffened, his mouth formed a perfect O, his arms flew out, and he danced around like he was being electrocuted. As soon as the noise stopped he ran to me and flung his arms and legs around my shin.
A delicious calm descended over me. My son was quaking against me, but did I show him pity? I did not. I said, "That's what you get." And then I limped to the car with my arms still full of packages and MK stuck on my leg like a monkey.
I don't think this experience scarred him. I know it did me a world of good. For that one moment, I believed utterly that all was right with the universe, and isn't that what Christmas is about? So, Merry Christmas. Yo.