Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Great Marshmallow Caper

My little wheat tweaker is in heavy withdrawal. Imagine an adult trying to quit smoking - that's my six-year-old. Irritable. Thin-skinned. Crabby. I had to scrape him off the pavement to get him onto the bus this morning, and I'm told the school day didn't go much better.

I had been trying to think of a fun way to kill some time in the afternoon without angering the beast. The answer came to me while flipping through a parenting magazine in a waiting room this morning. I came across a suggestion for a fun little experiment you can do with your kids: put marshmallows in the microwave for 30 seconds and watch what happens. What could possibly go wrong?

When Ryan came home, I told him my plan: we would walk to the drug store, buy some marshmallows, and bring them home for our experiment. He seemed game for it.

We walked to the store without incident. The whole way, Ryan was telling me that we were going to the drug store and were going to get marshmallows. He was on task. All was going according to plan.

Then we walked into Duane Reade.

One step into the store he started crying, shrieking "They do NOT have any marshmallows!" I tried to calm him down. I explained that we hadn't even gotten to the part of the store where they keep the marshmallows.

"Aaagh! Where ARE the marshmallows?"

As calmly as I could, I told him we would look for them in the store, and if the store didn't have them, we would just go to another store. This was moderately acceptable to him.

The drug store did not, in fact, have any marshmallows. The manager said they only carry them in the summer. (We live in a city; I think the locals are far more likely to put marshmallows in their hot chocolate than to go build a freaking campfire on their fire escape. But what do I know?)

"That's ok," I tried to convince Ryan, "we'll walk to the second drug store." He just barely held himself together for the one-block walk to CVS.

But they didn't have marshmallows, either.

I dragged my crying, whining kid out of the store, calmly telling him if he doesn't shut the hell up we're not getting any damn marshmallows. We worked on some deep breathing exercises. I squeezed him as hard as I could. We took our time.

Giving up was not an option: Ryan would have spent the rest of the night fretting about how we hadn't completed what we had set out to do.

We took some more time before walking into a small market, which also did not have any marshmallows.

We chanted "we're calm, we're calm" all the way to the small grocery store down the street, which, as luck would have it, also did not have any marshmallows.

I told Ryan we had one more store to try, and if that bodega didn't have marshmallows, we would get our car and drive to the supermarket. At this point he was beyond frustrated, and a cold wind wasn't helping. I coached him to walk backwards into the wind. This was silly enough that it distracted him from his frustration. Then I instructed him to spin in circles while walking; he giggled and delighted in being dizzy.

We walked calmly, even happily, into the bodega. And on the top shelf in the aisle on the left, there were a dozen beautiful bags of big, fluffy marshmallows. I gratefully paid for them, and Ryan clutched the bag all the way home.

All is well with the world.

And I highly recommend putting a few marshmallows in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. For extra fun, draw some faces on them first with a marker.

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