Thursday, October 23, 2014

Terror in the Aisles

Thanks to Becky's teaching years, we have easily hundreds of kids books hanging around our home. Even if we had a much larger house, I am not certain that we'd be able to find a place for them on shelves or in rooms. These are good problems to find yourself in. So, we cycle in and out of books as the months tick by, often resulting in a new story coming our way. Such is this case with Sendak's Outside Over There.

Henry responded well to Where The Wild Things Are, so I quickly reached for another title from the same author. The fantastical storyline, which centers on a child's abduction by 2 goblins that is eventually resolved safely, is profoundly creepy for an adult. I had no true idea how Henry digested it, though he asked to reread it a few times. Perhaps his perception is just different enough to make the images and storyline below a concern only for moms and dads.

NPR seems to think so.

Friday found us meeting up for a Halloween event at Henry's preschool such that we had 2 cars, resulting in Henry and I being tasked with heading to Safeway to pick up Chinese food. After unsuccessfully searching for caramels in the store, we paid for our food and started heading towards the doors. I made a quick detour after remembering that Alaskan beer was currently on sale, and that the seasonal Pumpkin Porter was only going to be available for a short time. I had never tasted it, so I decided to seize the opportunity and grab a case.

In Alaska the liquor department has to be its own section with its own doorway, even though it's part of the grocery store. In Chicago they drag a big accordion metal fence across the beer when it's Sunday morning, while up here they just shut the door to that little room. So we walked through the bakery, past the tables where folks read the paper while lounging, and right into a crowded beer store.

There were about 6 folks in line and I didn't want the Chinese food to get cold, so I walked with a bit of purpose towards the stacks of Alaskan beer. As we reached the middle of the room, just past the check out line, Henry tugged hard away from me. I grabbed his hand firmly in direct fear that I was about to hear a pyramid of wine come crashing down all over my credit card.

No luck, as he tugged away again. "We just need to get Daddy's beer and we'll go home."

"We need to go home now," he said clear as a bell. No mumbling, all intention.

I sighed and rolled my eyes quickly. "OK. Let's go." I began walking him towards the external door, away from the bakery (2 entrances at the beer store). He yelped and flopped right onto the floor. His face was then buried into his hands.

I have never before seen this degree of terror, so I just went into rapid response mode. I grasped the back of his jacket, picked him up like a piece of luggage, and then headed back to the bakery. He was soon walking and tugging rapidly towards the main section of the store -- anything to get away from the beer department.

I steered us into the section of tables and was then able to talk calmly with him. After a few questions and sniffled words the answer was clear. "Goblins, Daddy."

I spun around and saw the 4 foot witch standing guard at the entrance to the liquor department. It all became clear.

As I calmed him down with a french fry and had a better chance to scan the goblin lair, I saw that another witch stood at the external door as well. Henry did not realize we were under goblin attack until he was in the center of the room, at which point the only solution was to burrow into the faux wood floor and hope it all passed.

Those witches could not have looked any closer to the Sendak's goblins. Truly a perfect storm of trouble for Henry.

I imagine people in the store assumed I beat my kid and that he was merely prematurely reacting to Dad's looming, weekend bender.

I'm pretty sure this is a story/scar that will be sticking in our family's history. We have not read that book since, but Mom and Dad are laughing at the story and Henry's even smirking about the goblins at Safeway.

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