3 S.R. Johannes: Donut Days from Hell

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Donut Days from Hell

Saturday was not a good mommy moment for me. Another #mommyfail to add to my long lists of #mommyfails.

So this past Saturday after my husband leaves for work (yes on a Saturday! But we wont get into that in this post) I decide to take kids for a donut run.

Donuts + kids = happy times. Right? WRONG! Donut + kids = Disaster waiting to happen.

Let me set it up for you

(main character tip: you must get the reader to sympathize with your Main Character so they care about the story and stick with them even when they do things the reader may not like)

(Backstory tip - don't do it unless it is critical to the story - This is so it's appropriate)

Here's mine - My kids have been out of camp for a couple weeks. After an exhausting week at LA, my dad having major spinal surgery, and my daughter being out of camp the same week. We spent the week at the hospital and American Girl getting her ready for school. Then when she went back last week, my son was out ALLLLLLL last week. Meanwhile, I am fighting a nasty cold and my hubby had visiting clients, therefore was forced to work long hours. All of this = NO REPRIEVE.

Needless to say, after the intellectual drain of LA SCBWI, the emotional drain of watching my dad, the financial strain of American Girl store, I was weak. Tired. Tapped. And over the week, I started to feel like my kids were slowing chipping away at my mommy armor, complaint by complaint, need by need, want by want. My invisible force field was weakening.

Mommy Offense #1 - Lacking in necessary equipment
(creating conflict tip - its important to provide the conflict up front so the reader is pulled into caring how the conflict is resolved. )

For the record, I do not have the latest model in the huge line of Mommy Force Fields. I have a very (VERY) old model that has been banged on, torn at, and picked at for about 6 years. So there are hairline cracks, fractures, holes and yes! it is totally MY fault that I have not upgraded to the newest and latest model. (or is it my husband's for not buying it for Mothers Day instead of seeds for the garden. Again, a whole other post.)

I have seen some woman who have been blessed with the upgraded model. I envy the capabilities: The always look cute and pulled together button, The everyday shower lever, the 24/7 smile-no-matter-what- feature, The nothing-cracks-me bonus addition, the one that comes with "100% patience guarantee" and the "lifetime guarantee". The one that promises to lasts for over 5,000 meltdowns while doing a million chores or you get your money back (and probably even a makeover!)

Of what model do I speak of? The MFF 5000 (Mommy ForceField 5000)

Unfortunately, I was suckered into leasing the one that was on clearance a few years ago b/c I could not afford an upgraded one. I got the used model. With previous owners. The one with no frills. No special tricks. The mainframe of Force Fields.

The FF100. (in case you don't know the 100 is the number of meltdowns covered. The number I go through in - oh lets say - a month?)

You see where I am going. (Are you sympathizing with me - The MC - yet?)

Offense #2 - Giving 6 and 3 year old Choices they are clearly not equipped to handle

Yes, for some reason, I have it in my head that kids deserve to make their own choices (damn you Dr Sears!) I made the critical mistake of asking 2 innocent children the age old question that still causes controversy in some adults:

Donuts or Krispy Kreme?

character arc tip - It is important to show some kind of emotional growth in your character over the course of your book. They must have learned something from the conflict.

My lesson? I've realized that I give my kids waaaaaaaay to many choices in life. My 6 year old and 3 year old have somehow gotten it in their mind that since I let them choose which plate they wanted or which Dora episode to watch, that they now are in charge of telling me how to drive, suggesting (demanding) ways for me to spend my money, and implementing new rules in the house around bath/bed time without parental consent.

Scene of the Crime
rising action tip - It is the events leading up to the Climax. Confused - Just read on and you'll get a good example.


Setting: In the car, songs playing, all of us singing along with Elmo
setting tip - its important to set the stage so your reader feels as if they are there. As if they are experiencing everything the MC is - the car, the kids, the donuts.

Me (hereby known as Defendant): "Ok Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme?"

Daughter, Age 6 (hereby known as Perpetrator #1) - "Dunkin Donuts"

Son, Age 3 (hereby known as Perpetrator #2) yells "Kwispe Kweme"

: "Well, do you want little round donuts or big ones."

1: "Big"

2: "Little"

Setting: Mom drives to Dunkin Donuts. Reasoning: b/c its closer, has small AND large donuts as well as big coffees. Family pulls into DD.

dialogue tip - it is important that you create real characters and dialogue that the reader feels is real including the appropriate dialect and word choice.

Perp2: "I don't want dis pwace (he's 3). I want da pwace where donuts go like dis" as he mimicks the big donut machine with his hands. (I know cute right? Lets see how CUTE he is later)

-" This is our only option . Other place is closed." (misdemeanor: lying in hopes of avoiding meltdown from perp2)

1 cheers with hands in the air - "Yay Dunkin Donuts!" (Again, don't her deceive you either.)

Setting: Inside at counter with poor lady serving donuts to loud family before 7 am.

Defendant: "A dozen donuts please. (proceeds to call out the 12 donuts. Lady fills in 5 of them .Defendant turns to Perp #1). What donut do you want sweetie?"

#1:" I dont want a big donut now. I want a small donut."

: "You said you wanted a big donut. Are you sure you want small ones now? B/c once I get them, you can't change your mind."

#1: "yes."

gets big donut.

#2: "no, I want a big donut."

(starts sweating) -"Wait, I thought you wanted SMALL donuts. (turns to lady frowning at counter). "OK so instead of 12 donuts, knock me down to 6 and add 25 munkins."

#2: (says "I want big donut" over and over and over and over and over again in my ear.)

pats his little head: "shhhh, I heard you. I got you a big donut."

#1 - "How many little donuts do i get to eat?"

- "I don't know, probably about 5?"

#1 raises voice: "5! that's it?Well then I want a big donut instead."

#2 yells at sister - "No! you get small donuts. Me get big donuts!"

grits teeth as lady hands over 6 donuts and munchkins. Defendant grabs bags and whispers to Perps with "THE LOOK" on her face. "Both of you stop it now or you will get NO donuts." Defendant turns to frowning donut lady. "Can I also get a iced hazelnut coffee?"

#2 - "No, I want an iced coffee."

- "You cant have coffee."

#2 - "I never get anyfing."

#1 teases Perp #2. "Yes you do. You got apple juice this morning."

#1 hits Perp #2. kids proceed to argue....LOUDLY.

speaks through gritted teeth. "Both of you better stop it and get in the car. NOW!" Defendant smiles at frowning lady and the long, long line of frowning people that have gathered impatiently waiting for donuts. "Sorry."

Both Perps continue to argue all the way to the car.

Setting: Inside car, which is a SUV but now suddenly feels like a really, really smallish compact car - with no air or room to breathe.

does deep breaths and blasts high air conditioner to cool off from sweating. Uses happy voice. "Does anyone want a small donut for the ride home?"

#2 starts to cry. "But I wanted a BIG donut"

breathes again.: "You'll get a big one when you get home. But do you want a small one now?"

#2 "No! Only big one!" This dialogue exchange repeats a few times.

Finally, after almost hitting a car and running over a woman, frazzled Defendant ignores Perp #2 and speaks to Perp #1 "What about you honey, do you want one of your small donuts?"

Perp #1 "Is it 1 of my 5?"

Defendant: "Yes."

#1 "Never mind, I want a big donut."

Defendant: "I told you if you chose small donuts, you'd have to live with your decision. I did not get you a big one."

Perp#1: Can I have your big donut and 2 small ones?"

Defendant starts to lose grip on reality. "No!"

#2: Still crying. Only its getting louder.

#1: starts crying too.

Pause for commentary.

OK so this all was much, much worse than this reenactment suggests but my fingers are getting tired of doing dialogue and my heart is starting to pump as I relive the trauma of that morning.

Anyway, you get the point.

So after days of exhaustion, sickness, hospital visits, no husband back up, and being beaten down by my little devils...I mean kids....I lose it in the car. Yelling at them. At. The. Top. Of. My. Lungs. (Now, I admit I do bark/yelp occasionally. But ever since Dr Phil said "Raising your kids does not mean raising your voice." I try hard not to yell....too much.)

Now, I know you all are saying "Thats OK. Every mom loses it sometimes."

But I'm here to tell you that, I REALLY LOST IT. I went from 0 - 100 in less than 5 seconds. To be honest, I don't even know where it came from. My kids are usually pretty good kids and Ive had days where they've done worse than this before I've simply hollered calmly or yelped loudly. But for some reason, this was the day, my FF100 decided to breakdown and meltdown with no battery backup. My FF100 shortcircuited for about 30 seconds. But enough time to do some damage.

Not only was my throat sore the rest of the day, casing me to be slightly hoarse (AKA a battle scar) I think I might have even spit on the windshield. I yelled at my kids sharing some of the following points of brilliance you can only get from a mom:

"do you know how many kids in Africa want donuts?"
"how can you be fighting over donut size? A donut is a donut."
There were also some mumbles about "how I do everything for them" and "how come they cant appreciate it when they get something" and "why cant we just get along".

Then I turned up the radio loud - so loud - loud enough to drown out the crying. I think I even blew out a speaker and I'm pretty sure Ill never want to hear California girls again. (I know bad right? I'm not proud of it I just couldn't take it anymore.)

As soon we get home, i practically fall out of the car, drop my coffee, and watch MY donut roll down the hill. Now I can't even be an Emotional Eater!? I stomp into the house with crying kids behind me (feeling like a complete failure and total loser, hungry with no caffeine in sight) and sentence my criminals for their offenses.

Good times....

Sentence: No donuts for 24 hrs, Solitary room confinement of 1 hour, total silence required until otherwise notified.

Both Perps are paddywagoned into their rooms. Doors slam. Crying conmenses. I go to my office and you got it - start crying. I call my husband who after listening patiently to my rant about ungrateful and spoiled kids calmly says "Honey, I don't blame you. I think you should talk to them but don't let them see you crack or they'll miss the whole point." Then I call my mom crying and tell her I'm sorry for all the times i complained about donuts (b/c I think I remember some. Or was it about cheese???). I try to call my best friend and my brother. But they are wise in not picking up. After I cool down (and sneak a few small donuts!), I go into each room with my strong, prepared "noncracking" speech.

"I am very dissappointed in how you two acted at the donut place and I'm also dissappointed in myself for yelling. I'm sorry for yelling. (Defendant starts to tear up and voice starts to shake.) Having a choice is a priviledge that you 2 no longer have that right today. You will listen to everything I say without a peep. If you argue, additional jail time will be required. If you groan, manual labor will be in order. And if you balk, lives may be lost. For now, you may come out of solitary confinement and play in your jails together until I am ready. If you are good and don't argue with each other, I will let you out on parole for "good behavior" and LET you accompany me to the bookstore. Where we will buy nothing - no toys, no food, no books. Today, you may do nothing but eat and breathe. Please nod if you understand the terms of which you are being granted."

2 slow nods and many apologies and hugs/kisses.

The rest of the day, they were angels.

When my husband gets home, he asks the kids. "I heard mommy got mad this morning."
Daughter: "Mommy lost it b/c we were fighting over donuts."
Me: "On a scale of 1-10 - how bad did I lose it?"
Daughter: "100"

Conclusion: I have already contributed 150$ to each of their therapy punch cards so that someday they can afford to discuss THE DONUT EPISODE with a licensed professional.

Oh yeah, and next time i get donuts, I go in alone.


Robin Mellom said...

Oh my god I just got HIVES reading this.

Hahaha! Thanks for sharing--we've all been there. But I have learned from you dear master... I will now use the phrase "you may do nothing but eat and breathe" as often as needed. Maybe more.



Jemi Fraser said...

Been there, done that!

It will be funny eventually ... but just not yet :)

We all have those bad days, but it's the build up of good karma on all the other days that count!!

Huntress said...

**wiping tears from eyes, trying to laugh quietly while husband asleep on couch**

Oh Lordy, I am so glad my little poptart is all grown up.

Um...well, sometimes...

Kelly Bryson said...

Oooh, I don't want to admit to understanding exactly how one could lose one's cool so quickly, so I'd better not say anything more;) Hope tomorrow is better!

VS Grenier said...

I'm still laughing. I know bad. You were stressed out and feel bad about it. I've been there myself. I would love to say it gets easier as they get older, but that would be a lie. I have a 14 year old, 5 year old, and 6 month old. They all fight and drive me nuts. I have the same model you do . . . MMF100, however, I think I got mine at a garage sale after it had been owned by two previous owners. We all lose it and sometimes we lose it bad. The last time I lost it was after our 6 month old was born. I still remember my hubby calling me from work and asking if the kids were still alive. Man, did I feel awful after that comment.

Just know your kids will be fine and will look back on this memory as a learning experience as kids and when they are parents. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but the funny thing is . . . no matter what our kids tend to think we are. At least sometimes. :)

Veronica Roth said...

Don't feel too bad! You do the best you can. And your kids know that-- even if they don't KNOW they know it yet.

Also, I don't mean to laugh at your troubles, but this is hilarious. Thanks for setting the scene. :-)

DL Hammons said...

I.....can't.....breath!!!! Laughing.......too......hard!!!!! O...M...G!!!!! Picturing.....a.....donut....rolling.....down......the ....driveway!!!!

*breathing easier now*

Okay, I'm better now. What you did was actually a good thing! The kids need to see "THE BEAST" every now and again to be reminded of how far consequences actually might go.

*snickering* MAAHAAWAHHAA!!!!!!!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I can't stop laughing. Sorry! You have an hilarious way of recounting kid troubles. And, for the record, any mother who never lost it must be a robot.

Gail said...

I know this wasn't funny at the time it occurred, BUT we have all been sitting at out computers laughing WITH now.

Of course, the laughter came AFTER my hyperventilating, biting my nails, and tearing our my hair! Now that I've finished empathizing, I soooo need a donut, or 3 and I have no way to go get any!!!!

Big hugs to you...you're a wonderful mommy.

Kerri Cuev said...

It has got to be the week before school blues!!! I feel your pain and as I sit here typing this laughing at your story my 5 year old is screaming "don't take my dvd player mommy," long story lol. This is my attempt to de-stress.

The American Girl store, oh you are a brave, brave, BRAVE woman. Scary and leave your pockets empty store crawling with girls in pink clutching their dolls. AHHHHH! I started making my own doll outfits. Oh yeah!

Hang in there Shelli and if you really want to make yourself feel better watch Supernanny, works every time ;)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Your story is so vivid and I laughed until the part where you lost it. Don't feel bad. They were too. And we all do sometimes.

Little Ms J said...

I'm not a parent so I don't count, but I think every parent needs to scare the jelly filling out of their kid every now and then.

Corey Schwartz said...

I really don't get how there are people who have six kids! This SO sounds like it was about my children... even the Kwispy Kweme part :)

Kim said...


Absolutely hilarious. I mean I know it wasn't funny for you, but I read it out loud to my husband and he laughed so hard he cried.

But seriously I've been there. Well not quite there, but I have lost control before so I get it.

Someday you and your children will laugh about this.

Paula said...

Don't let those perfect ones fool you. They break down just as often.

Hang in. Sleep helps.

Jessie Oliveros said...

It sounds like you had A LOT on your plate (not just donuts). And kids always transform into little monsters under stress. When my husband left for ten days for back surgery my son was taken over by another creature I'm pretty sure-like invasion of the body snatchers. And I didn't handle it so awesome either. Stress. Mothering. Hmmm. No one really has the perfect model, at least not 24-7 and behind closed doors.

I loved the integration of how-to-write-a-novel with you real-life experience.

Lara Zielin said...

Omg, this was awesome. And super real. Shelli, would you believe this post popped up on my google alert for "Donut Days"? Too funny!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

That was stinking funny. I wish I could tell you that I can't relate, that I've had not one #FAIL mommy moment, but...that would be lying and mommy's can't do that right? Nope, we mislead in a donut store instead. Hah.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Hehehe, sorry about your day, but this recount of the story was brilliantly funny. We all lose it once in a while, don't worry. I thought it was nice that you apologized to your mom though, heehee!

Stasia said...

Oh, I feel your pain. So been there. Love your point about choice being ba.a.a.d. Trying to remember that fact before proposing plans (with options) to my little ones. Saving choices for my angsty, YA protagonists who may be frustrating but never embarass me in Dunkin' Donuts! Hang in there :)

M Pax said...

I feel your pain, but it made for a really great story. I enjoyed reading it. Takes me back ... glad the nest is empty and I can send the nieces & nephews home.

Sara B. Larson said...

I think all moms have days like this (at least I certainly hope so!) and I'm glad you were willing to share yours. I feel better about the days my armour totally malfunctions, too. It'll be funny someday, right?

Unknown said...

Okay, I know I should not be laughing at your pain, but good heavens, that's hilarious. I would have dumped said perps on hubbykins as soon as he got home and gone to get myself another doughnut.

Marissa Burt said...

Aw, Shelli, I feel for you. Couldn't help but laugh, of course, but totally know that feeling - especially the overheated, out-of-patience return to the car. Here's hoping you at least got some donuts in the end - big or small - and glad the day ended well.

Jenna Wallace said...

I've been thinking about this post for a whole week! It definitely smacks of penance to me (am I right? Did you think "I'll punish myself by writing about it and showing 1000+ readers what a terrible mom I am?")

I have so been there. Amazing how quickly we can morph from a normal mother into that roaring creature we don't recognize.

This is not a case of mommyfail. This is a case of mommy. Everyone has moments like this and the fact that you feel bad about it shows what a great mother you are. Chin up! (And yes, no more choices.)

Anonymous said...

Ah, you crack me up, Shelli! Great story.

Riv Re said...

*pats on the back* there there. s'okay. maybe you should take a break, head to a spa or something. Put money into a manicure instead of a book, and get it from the library. You'll feel better. Spas help with all the FF models.