Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
One brisk morning, my son and I walked hand-in-hand to a bookstore. He had a play date with two other children, and I guess I had a play date with their mother.
We arrived smiling, and as my son joined his friends, I took a seat next to mine. We all happily chatted and played, and a few minutes later, a store employee beckoned the kids over for story time. But as she opened the book and began to read, my son stood up abruptly and made a quick return to one of the play areas.
“Come back over buddy,” I whispered with a smile.
Then … something went wrong.
And that's when all my suspicions about what would happen if someone yelled in a quiet bookstore were confirmed.
Twenty heads all turned and looked at my son. And then they looked at me. I was humiliated.
I made my way over to my son, guided him behind a bookshelf where we would have less of an audience, and attempted to calm him down.
“Please go back, sit with the other children and listen to the story,” I whispered firmly.
“No! This is stupid! Those kids are stupid! That lady reading the book is stupid! Take me home!”
And then he walked back over to a corner where everyone had him in full view again, lifted his shirt over his head – and waited.
I glanced at my friend, who looked back at me piteously. Too embarrassed to think of a better solution, I obliged my son by gathering our belongings and making a quick exit from the scene. An hour later, he was down for a much-needed nap, and I collapsed in a chair and relived the incident, shaking my head. What had gone wrong?
Before I could decipher the answer, the phone rang.
“Are you OK?” my friend asked when I picked up.
“Just embarrassed,” I said with a sigh. “I can't imagine what everyone was thinking.”
“They were thinking ‘It happens to the best of us,'” she said matter-of-factly. “And it really does. Don't worry about it at all.”
“I'm just not sure what happened!” I said with exasperation. “Everything was fine, and then bam! It all went wrong.”
“Who knows?” my friend said. “They're kids. It happens sometimes. You can't always figure it out.”
For me, this was a difficult concept. As a self-professed control freak, not being able to manage a situation was incomprehensible. But I promised my friend I would try to let the debacle go.
We hung up, and I went upstairs to check on my sleeping son.
I peeked in his room and smiled as I saw that he was peacefully snoring away. Then my smile turned into a chuckle as I considered that it was this little cherub who had thrown such an intense tantrum. Parenthood, I decided, was certainly a lot of moving targets. And it looked as if I would have to learn to roll with them – for my own sake, as well as everyone else's.
But just to be on the safe side, I decided to avoid quiet bookstores on play dates.