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The Hell That Is Holiday Parking With a Toddler

Photograph by Twenty20

I’ve resorted to bribery by promising him a Starbucks. No, I'm not buying my 3-year-old a Frappuccino—he’s already had his morning coffee. I’m just trying to give us something to look forward to. Him, a cookie. Me, a parking spot.

Holiday parking is difficult enough, but add a toddler to the mix and that pressure could explode the typical human brain. All the sing-alongs, books and stickers can’t keep him occupied when the mall is in sight. My son is watching me, so I’m trying to set a good example by keeping my cool and using proper language. But that's becoming nearly impossible, because there is no holiday spirit in this holiday parking lot.

11:02 a.m.

“Mom, let’s go!”

“We have to find a parking spot first.”

“Mom! I’m hungry!” he says shoving a handful of book pages in his mouth.

11:08 a.m.

I’m not sure what rift in space and time parking lots are built upon, but in this backwards world of SUVs parked in compact car spaces, I see holiday grins morph into menacing grimaces. Each car has been taken over by a Grinch stealing not only my last can of Who-hash but my last parking space. When will it end?

11:12 a.m.

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

Apparently, it’s never-ending. Now this query is being repeatedly screamed from the backseat. I’m doing my best to find my happy place, imagining Tom Hiddleston sitting next to me, singing Christmas carols. However, my daydream morphs into me asking Tom, “Are we there yet ?” which makes Mr. H turn into an angry Loki. I NEED a parking spot.

11:17 a.m.

It’s raining stickers in the backseat. Note to self: Buy putty knife at mall to remove stickers from window and kid’s hair.

I realize my teachable moment: I can either drive over this nice grandpa and park, or let him pass and give up the space.

11:26 a.m.

“Mom, what does ‘fudge’ mean?”

Just like Ralphie, I didn’t say “fudge.” A car materialized out of nowhere and stole my spot, causing me to propel profanities from my mouth. Not the best vocabulary role model.

“It’s an adult word we say when we’re frustrated. I’d rather you not use it, OK?”

“OK.”

That was easy. Maybe that wasn’t so bad?

11:37 a.m.

“I have to poop.”

11:38 a.m.

I'm not the only one who has spotted the final bag going in the trunk of the car ahead. Now’s my chance! This is also when my kid starts wailing because his morning caffeine has worn off.

Just then, an elderly man laden with gifts, likely for all the sick children in every hospital, crosses slowly in front of me. My son’s frustrated sobs are momentarily silenced by the stack of toys passing in front of us. I realize my teachable moment: I can either drive over this nice grandpa and park, or let him pass and give up the space.

So, I do what any good mother wanting to teach her son valuable life lessons would do: gun the engine, flatten the old man and grab the space! Just kidding, that was the person who stole the space. I humanely wait for the old man, letting comfort and joy prevail.

12:30 p.m.

The parking lot won. My son is now learning the benefits of the Keurig Holiday Blend ... at home. Life is full of teachable moments and I’m trying to set good examples as I go. Hopefully, these life lessons will help him as he grows. Like now, for example: I’m teaching him about the wonder and magic of shopping on QVC with his father’s credit card.

“Mom, more hot chocolate?”

“No, sweetie.”

“Fudge.”

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