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Not so magic

Mallory’s class read most of the Magic Tree House series this year, so when I found out that the series author, Mary Pope Osborne, was coming to the UNC Planetarium for a special event and book signing, I asked Mallory if she’d like to go. “Mary Pope Osborne! Yay!” Mallory said, and, so impressed was I that my 6-year-old recognized and responded to the name of an author, I said I’d take her. (Then I found out that tickets were $20 a piece. Ouch. I went ahead and bought the tickets, and informed Chris that he and Phoebe couldn’t come.)

The big day was Saturday. Mallory woke up in a foul mood. She asked for doughnuts for breakfast. I said no. She threw a big fit. I said that, apart from the fact that you just can’t have doughnuts every single time you want a doughnut, which for Mallory would be every seven seconds, we didn’t have time to go get doughnuts before we had to leave for the Magic Tree House show anyway. She said I was mean and that she wouldn’t go to the show unless I bought her doughnuts. I said no. Another big fit ensued and she declared, loudly and with great passion, that she was absolutely not going to the show, she didn’t want to go anywhere with me ever, she wanted to stay home and play with her friends, I should go away and never speak to her ever again.

Well. At this point, frankly, I didn’t much want to go anywhere with her either, but I’d paid $40 for these tickets. It did cross my mind that I was out $40 either way, but staying home would save maybe $20 of gas, so maybe we should just not go. But then I figured that was the wrong stance to take. I told Mallory that she would enjoy the show once we got there. I told her that the tickets had been expensive and it would be a waste of money not to go. I told her that several of her schoolmates would be there too. I told her that if she did stay home she would not be allowed to play with her friends anyway. Then Chris told her that if she didn’t go, she wouldn’t be able to watch TV for a week. That worked. We got in the car.

I’d like to say that things improved and that we ended up having a fabulous time, but that didn’t happen. Mallory did cheer up some, but an attitude of sulkiness prevailed. When we drove into Chapel Hill and I said, “Mallory, look, that’s the apartment your daddy and I lived in before you were born?”, she – who usually loves facts like these – said darkly, “So?” She complained about walking one whole block from the parking garage to the planetarium. She refused to be impressed by the giant sundial or the exhibits in the lobby. When I pointed out a few of her classmates in the auditorium, she said those kids were not her friends and she didn’t want to say hello. We had to get up halfway through the movie to go to the bathroom, even though we’d gone right before it started. (“No, I can’t wait! You’re mean to make me wait!”)

She did seem suitably impressed to be in the presence of Mary Pope Osborne. She had her book signed, and, upon seeing the cover of the newest Magic Tree House book, told MPO that, “Penguins are my mommy’s favorite animal!” (Although when I offered to buy her the book in the gift shop, she opted for a lollipop/fan combo piece of plastic garbage instead.) As we were leaving, I asked if it had been as awful as she had feared. “It was just kinda bad,” she said.

You ungrateful brat, I thought to myself. I wanted to lecture her on the importance of appreciating the opportunities she had. I wanted to remind her that she told me she wanted to come to this event. I wanted to tell her that I was disappointed that she had come close to wrecking what I had conceived of as a special day for just the two of us. And maybe I should’ve said all those things. Maybe she needed to hear it. But instead, I just took a deep breath, took her by the hand, and started the walk back to the car. She’s just six. She’ll learn.


Anonymous said…
It's disappointing when children don't appreciate what parents do to try to expose them to fun things. I'm thinking that this won't be the first time that this happens - the voice of experience!

aimee said…
I think when she remembers it, she will conveniently forget how she acted and remember the good stuff that happened.

Rhett loves The Magic Tree House series. He will be jealous of Mallory when he finds out she got to go. Tell her that. Maybe then she'll realize it was indeed special! :)

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