1. The Plague of Pestilence: 5:15pm
We have a book about passover. Martin loves it and has it memorized. Each year that we’ve been in Wooster, we’ve been fortunate to have been invited to participate in a semi-traditional Passover Seder. This year it was held at a local market that has a sort of community room.
As soon as we arrive, I start to worry. To get to the community room we have to pass through the showroom of the market, full of knick-knacks, breakables and (worst of all) things Martin could obsess over. Inside the community room the tables arranged in the room look like they seat about twenty or thirty people. That’s a lot of noise for Martin to manage and a lot of external expectations for me to manage. Only fifteen or so people had arrived and it was already kind of noisy and a bit disorganized. Also Martin is the only boy. Six or seven adorable and obedient little girls sit around a table coloring on a large pad.
Martin immediately runs up to one of the seder plates and picks up the maror . “This is the bitter herb. Where is the lamb bone?” He picksd up the lamb bone. “Here it is! Where is the egg?” He grabs it and shows it to his [unappreciative] audience. This is food we are going to be eating ritualistically. True, most of the people here know who Martin is and none of them lays a great amount of ritualistic significance on the occasion. However, no one really wants to eat food pawed over by a six year old. Who knows where his hands have been?
2. The Plague of Wild Beasts: 5:35pm
A classic parent move: I try to distract him. “Would you like to color on the pad with the girls?” They look unsure. It doesn’t matter, he heads back for the haroset. “Where is the haroset, Papa?” He points and a blob of what probably is the haroset. “Let’s get your President puzzle while we wait for dinner to start.” “It is not time for the President puzzle. I have to look at the Seder Plate.” I nudge him toward the door into the showroom. A display of soaps intrigues him and he starts to make the soaps dance. I nudge some more.
“Why do you want me to go get the puzzle?” He is starting to physically resist. “I just want you to have something fun to do. Lets go out to the car and get it.” I pick him up and carry him toward the door. It is locked. He’s squirming so I want to avoid carrying him through the crowd. I move to another door. Also locked. By now he is pushing at my face and clawing at my sweater. I put him down and he runs. I give chase and scoop him up, determined to get him out the door. I am sweating now and he has hit me in the face twice. He is yelling as we move through the crowd. Thirty polite people are moving out of our way and getting very quiet. I’d like to yell, “Nothing to see here, folks. Go back to your chit chat.” The room is facing us and silent. As the heavy door slams shut behind us Martin lands two solid smacks to my cheek, but I am thrilled. No one saw him hit me.
“Martin, we are going to have to go home now.” “WE DO NOT HAVE TO GO HOME.” “Well, unless you can calm down.” “I will not calm down!” I have his left thigh in the crook of my left arm. My left hand is holding his left arm to keep it from hitting me. My right arm pins his right arm to his torso. My right hand is watching for stray appendages. “PUT ME DOWN! I can walk.” “Will you walk to the car, Martin?” “NO, I will NOT!” There is no way I can take him back in there like this.
3. The Plague of Boils: 5:40pm
We get to the car. I tell him to get into the car. He refuses. I threaten a timeout at home. He momentarily demurs. I open the door. He struggles as I push him in. I close the door and get in the front. As I try to start the car he jumps out and runs toward the building. I chase him down. A grab him, he squirms and kicks. I push him in the car again very roughly. He is shouting. I shout. I get in the front. He opens the door. I get out. I close the door. I don’t care if he’s buckled in. I start the car, and tell him to buckle up. He ignores me and climbs into the front seat. I look over as we leave the parking lot. He is sobbing and tiny in the big front seat. He punches me in the face.