Today’s prompt was: “Begins with ‘M’”
Linking up with Amanda at Habit of Being – November prompt-a-day
When I was little, probably 4 or 5 years old, my mother bought me a bag of M&Ms. It was an impulse buy from the candy shelf near the check-out at our local supermarket. I picked M&Ms because you could really make them last: one by one you select a little piece, so pleasing in their not-round-not-flat shape, predictably comforting in their uniformity. Colours mattered: greens were the best, browns not so good so to be eaten quickly. There were no blues because according to childhood lore they ‘caused cancer.’ The other colours were all equal. Some had intact Ms imprinted in white on the side, others had partial Ms; still others had little chips out of the side. I wouldn’t gobble them up. No, I would savour each one.
My mom bought me that coveted parcel of goodies, a little brown bag with plain white (now retro) writing and put it on the conveyor belt at the checkout. I remember standing and watching it go toward the clerk… being run through the cash register… then being put on the other side whether my mother could stow it in our shopping bags along with the rest of our groceries.
I wanted them there and then. I wanted to eat them right away. After all, they were mine! I was the younger sibling so I had a mine-complex, and this was a treat that I would definitely not be sharing with my older brother (was he even there? I can’t even remember. Sorry, bro.).
“Don’t open them right now or you might spill them,” my mother warned. And like the unexpected detonation of a bomb, suddenly, horrifically, there were M&Ms everywhere. I’d tried to open the bag with my small fumbling fingers. I couldn’t quite get it open myself. I resorted to tugging them open but, oh no! I ripped the bag and the M&Ms burst out, all over the floor. Little tap tap tapping sounds as they spread in every direction. My M&Ms were gone.
I can recall the feelings of utter disappointment and devastation. It was heart-break of the 4 year old variety.
What did my mother do? The memory is hazy. Did she say, “That’s what happens when you don’t listen”? Did she give me a hug and buy another pack? Maybe the friendly check-out lady said, “Oh don’t worry, honey, here’s another.” From the moment those M&Ms unleashed themselves from the packet my memories turn shadowy.
When I recall this scene I’m reminded of my own children. They do these sorts of things all the time. My four year old’s fine motor skills are just developing, so when he paints his nails it looks more like he’s dipped the end of each digit into the bottle; when he paints a picture the paint goes across the table too; when he gets a bowl full of little goodies to eat he spills a third, eats a third and brushes the rest down his clothes. My M&M memory helps me to ask, “What’s the point of being impatient about something that doesn’t really matter? Why get upset at him for acting like a kid?”
Children are sometimes so wrapped up in their world, in their authentic emotional responses to life, they quite often don’t hear what an adult might be saying. I remind myself of this when I’m asking my children to put their shoes on… for the third time. Young children immerse themselves; they don’t seem to multi-task. They’re doing what they’re doing. I couldn’t listen to my mother warning me about spilling my candy because I was too busy being at one with the candy.
So today, I remind myself that children are small. They are learning. They deserve my respect and understanding. Because you know what? It’s no fun spilling your M&Ms everywhere.
What begins with ‘M’? M&Ms do. So do memories and mothers. And eMpathy.
©Lisa Hassan Scott 2013.
Many thanks to Amanda for providing short daily prompts for writing and sharing them on Twitter with #writealm and on her WriteAlm Facebook page.