Counting the Grapes

I was counting grapes out of habit the other day as I was packing the child’s lunch. I guess I’ve done it for so many years that I continue to do it now even though I don’t need to. As I was inwardly laughing at myself my mind flashed to a day several years ago when one of my best mom friends was chuckling about it, too.

This was pre-twins. I can’t quite recall how old the child was, but I think she was not quite three yet. So that would be after I knew something was amiss but before anyone else really thought much about it. No language delay diagnosis though she could only say three hundred words [that I had painstakingly taught her without having much of an idea of what I was doing.] We took a fun overnight trip down the coast to a well known aquarium with some friends. At the time they had two girls both older than my daughter. We were enjoying lunch together on the second day of this jaunt. Lunch was late, service was slow, and I was doing everything in my power to fend off a pint-sized meltdown. We had ordered a fruit plate for my daughter since she will almost always eat fruit. There was a small dish of grapes in the mix, and one of the other girls asked if she could have some. I had already counted and there was the perfect number of grapes to keep the child happy. I was very selfish. I told the other little girl she could have some after the child ate what she wanted, because I knew that it was just the right amount for her, and if she didn’t get all of her grapes she might get upset. The other mom laughed, “You know how many grapes is just the right amount for her? That’s the difference between you and me…I just give the kid some grapes and that’s it…you count them??”

Well, when you’re child pulls your hair, kicks, screams, and starts throwing things because things aren’t just the way they want them; when you have no idea what’s going on with your child and they don’t have the words to tell you; when you generally feel out of control and have learned a few things that seem to help a little here and there…you do strange things like count the grapes. I think I offered the girl some of the other fruit.

I do not remember if the child ate all of her grapes or not. What I do recall is that in spite of all of my efforts to ward off a fit of rage, it happened anyway. The child looked out the window and saw someone pushing a stroller that looked just like hers. I could see the wheels spinning in her head. She thought they had taken HER stroller. No way she was going to stand for that. I had to take her (kicking and screaming) out to where we had been required to leave her stroller and show her that it was still safe.

It is so odd to remember these events now, even as I keep counting the grapes…I don’t have to do this anymore, even if I understand more now about why I did then. I wonder what habits I am forming now that from the future will seem strange…

…even if I’m still doing them out of habit.

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