Flying Child

SACRAMENTO, USA - SEPTEMBER 13: Walmart shopping cart on Septemb

I almost splattered my nephew’s head yesterday. If his head hadn’t splattered, he would have ended up with a broken bone at the very least. Before you fly to the phone and call DCF, allow me to explain.

The Other Mr. Harvey and I were making a Wal*Mart run with George. I was terrified. 

I love George but I am a people-pleaser. When a three-year-old throws a screaming tantrum (which is often), I want to make him happy again. This is not easy. George has delays, appears to be neurologically atypical, and is non-verbal. Did I also mention I am not a natural mother, father, or even babysitter? If you asked me to hold your child on the street due to an emergency, I would probably pass it off to someone else.

I was approaching the Wal*Mart jaunt (much like childcare) with trepidation. What if he throws a tantrum? What if he won’t stop crying? What if store security thinks I’ve beaten him? Will they call the cops? Do I bring a selection of toys he likes to distract him? What will I carry that in? Do I need some sort of bin? Oh, and what if he “has a caca” as we put it in The Village Harvey? I’m not going to lay him on those dirty pull-out wall gurneys you see in the restroom. Closeted dudes probably f**k on those. He will smell and people will think I’m a bad mother because I’m letting him sit in it. I guess I could always change him in the back of Ma’s borrowed SUV. Ugh, I don’t want to expose a pantsless child to the elements of a Wal*Mart parking lot. That lady is wearing a “Who Farted?’ t-shirt.

Despite the slightly calming presence of The Other Mr. Harvey, I was wracked as I wheeled George into the vastness of bargain shopping . We ended up getting two carriages. One for George to glide in, and one for the actual shopping. A three-man caravan, primed for getting everything on the list, and then getting the f**k out without anyone getting kidnapped or throttling a cashier.

Here’s the part where I hang my head in shame and wonder if whoever is supposed to monitor the security feed saw this mess.

No one told me that if kids are going to sit in the bottom of the carriage, they probably shouldn’t be standing. I’m not running playdates or teaching pregnancy yoga in my spare time. I don’t know these deets right off the bat. He was holding on to both sides, and I was moving pretty slowly. How was I supposed to know about inertia or whatever? Has a 40-year-old man ever sounded more like a teen mom straight off MTV?

We passed a row of toys, and he wanted them. He began a slight keen. This keen wasn’t as bad as it would get. It translated as “I want something, I can’t verbalize what I want, so I’m going to make this noise so you begin the attempt to figure it out.” He accompanied this by reaching out for the brightly colored Fisher-Price wares. This one was easy.

“Dude, you’ve got ALL the toys at home. Sorry.”

He did. George and his younger brother have ROOMS full of toys. Nevertheless, most of the time George plays with a black plastic spoon normally used to serve salad and a vacuum attachment.

(He does use his huge collection of toy cars on occasion to create massive smash-em-up derbys of utter destruction and then abruptly leave. Hey, hey you! Clean those up! Yeah, that never works.)

The low keen was about to erupt into a bellow, then a wail. It must be frustrating to not be able to verbalize your wants, needs, and desires. His 11-month-old brother speaks almost as many words as he does.

Oh, I know, I’ll just take him on a ride. He loves to go fast. He’ll forget about the toys and laugh his head off. The hubby was filling his own cart with supplies so I took off with the kid. Fast.

“Ok, hold on buddy!” I exclaimed.  WHEE! FUN UNCLE!

It was ok at first. “At first” being five seconds. Then I swerved to avoid a display of Bounty paper towels (wait, they have cleaner IN them now? Cancer.). The cart went the way I directed. George didn’t. He bodily FLIPPED over the side of the cart. Backwards.

Things didn’t become slow motion in the slightest. F**k the movies. They happened very, very fast. I don’t think I had ever been so scared in my life. I’ve had cancer, been gay prior to Modern Family airing, survived rolling two cars over, and married someone from Buffalo. I know fear. This was all the fear. My soul seized as my nephew silently flipped out of the shopping cart I had been pushing him in at dangerously high speeds. Backwards.

Wal*Mart’s floor was sort of shiny and suddenly looked very unwelcoming. And hard. It was going to be as hard as diamond for him when he hit.


I have ok reflexes. I am not an athlete in the slightest, but occasionally I can catch something suddenly tossed to me. That’s about it. There won’t ever be any wowing the public with my dexterity or prowess.

The universe did me a solid and equipped me with friggin’ ninja reflexes.

I caught him. Well, his t-shirt. I caught his t-shirt and LIFTED him up before his head smacked the floor. Jeez, the kid’s almost as heavy as his fat little brother (Henry is a large baby). He twisted in my grip, held aloft only by Yo Gabba Gabba-emblazoned cotton, size 4. He spun there, issuing a slight “ow” as I finally lowered him to the ground. Shaking, I looked around to see who was going to snatch him away from me for being such a f**king idiot. Guilt. Shame. Fear of arrest. The Other Mr. Harvey rolled up.

“Are you ok? Jesus.”

George said “ow” again in a tiny little voice, not quite sure what happened. Wanting to cry, I checked him over to see if he had any visible signs of injury.

“Ow?,” he asked.

He knows “ow”? I hugged him very tightly, whispering how sorry I was, asking a non-verbal child if he was ok, just clutching him. Perceived catching weight aside,I could feel how small he actually was, and how easily he could be hurt. And his uncle was setting him off like a Roman Candle through f**king Wal*Mart.

In pop culture, when a character suddenly vomits from a revelation or a situation, I normally scoff. Ugh, who does that, I think? Pussy. Well, for the first time, I almost did. The adrenaline and fear surge made me nauseous as hell. The situation could only get better if I began puking. The eyes of the world were already on me for propelling children!

“You ok? Sweetie, he’s fine. You caught him. Jesus, that was a catch,” my husband assured me.

I just knelt there clutching the kid and feeling light-headed. I suddenly hated kids. I shouldn’t be near kids. I forget things. I have problems with focus. I’m flighty and impulsive. I will flip a child out of a grocery cart. This isn’t going to work.  I don’t think first enough to look after a kid. Someone take this kid away. He’s really affecting my self-involvement and making me question myself. Stupid kid.

After a brief hug with the husband, I shakily placed George back in the cart (“You gotta sit down now, no more standing, bub.”), and we went about our business. No one stopped to yell at me. Security didn’t move to intercept. The Other Mr. Harvey wondered where to find apple juice. George seemed to have forgiven me. I guess kids are like that.

The only other drama that occurred was our foolishly giving the child chocolate to reward him for being such a good boy (he was, the best). He promptly smeared it all over his face, hands, hair, the cart, my hands, and I’m pretty sure the cashier.

Still shuddering when I think about it.


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