I’ve learned that brothers manipulate each other like salesmen. If one of them wants something, all they have to do is feign not being interested in it and the other one will back off. This rule holds true unless it’s something that has an attraction so undeniably strong that neither one can fake it.
Enter the doughnuts.
Our grocery shopping trips always starts in the far right of the local Publix supermarket. That way we can pop by the bakery and get a free cookie. Free cookies, especially when the kids need a snack or you’ll be in the store for a long time, help keep daddy sane … keep daddy sane … keep daddy sane.
On this day, the kids were OK. They weren’t the angels they portray themselves to be on our annual Christmas card, but they were behaving in an acceptably manic way. This is a moving and gray behavioral target for a 3- and 5-year-old. It can go from normal to delirium in the matter of one shopping aisle. That is why we navigate Publix like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Edible Treats.
Some treats offer acceptable levels of enthusiastic outbreaks while others released the kraken of childhood crazy. That is why we skipped the frozen foods section: it contains ice cream and offers a direct view to the doughnuts.
The doughnuts. Oh, the doughnuts. See, sometimes I let the kids get a bag of powdered doughnuts as a treat. Not in the plan today, though.
So, we went straight to the fruit to get some bananas. That’s when our youngest wanted to get out and do something. “Do something” is his Jedi mind trick. He placated me into thinking that he was sleepy, well-mannered or calm and not the 3-year-old doughnut-loving fiend he is at heart.
Once freed from the racing cart buggy, he went straight for the doughnuts. On the way he yelled in the same frequency dog trainers use to get their student’s attention. He also laughed in that childlike yet maniacal way that makes me thankful that they’re on our side. Sort of.
His older brother was apparently in on the ruse, too, because he was cheering him on yelling “Go, go, go!” Once at the doughnuts he grabbed a bag, yelled with glee and tried to hide on the other side of the packages.
“I can see you, come here please,” I said. At the same time an older couple rolled up in their scooters.
“Excuse me, can I talk with you,” the older gentleman said. “Never forget this. Never forget this time. By the time you blink, they’ll be older and you’ll be putting them in college. They’re running around the store now, acting like children, but this is the only time that they’ll do this. Enjoy it.”
“Never forget this” — that was this older man’s Jedi mind trick on me.
I hadn’t intended to purchase doughnuts that day, but I did. I also gave them each one in the car, even though it was close to dinner time.
A version of this first appeared on Daddy Mojo.