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Battle of Wills

Trying to keep the peace with a gremlin that loves disturbing it.

By J. L. GreenPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 5 min read
Battle of Wills
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Pulling into the driveway, I know that I only have so much time to establish and maintain control or I lose it completely.

The baby hasn't made a peep for the last five minutes so there's a good chance he's asleep with an even better chance that Big Brother is going to wake him up within two seconds of stepping into the house. If not sooner.

Plus, I have to pee.

I turn off the car and jump out, rushing to unbuckle the gremlin and free him from the confines of his big boy seat. He's an independant gremlin and 'can get down himself'; he wastes no time climbing down and racing up the drive.

The slam of the car door behind me makes me flinch as I cross around to the baby's side. Here's to hoping...he's lying still and reclined...feet haven't twitched...haha! Success! He is still asleep.

I pull his carseat out as gently as possible, but every minor shake rocks him like he's in hurricane winds. Now the hardest part; waddling to the door while holding my little princely gremlin still so he can keep napping.

"Mom!" My eldest calls loudly with that cute little toddler lispy-accent as I approach. To my relief, he heeds my shushing and goes statue still, spotting his sleeping brother. (His baby.) His voice is softer, a mock-whisper that makes me grin. "Mom, can I have a pouch?"

"In a minute," I say before the question actually processes. I set the carseat down with the tender care of a soldier diffusing a bomb, and correct myself as I wriggle the key into the lock. "No, you had one for breakfast."

He whines and I hush him softly. The door is finally open (stupid stubborn lock) and he's inside before I can blink.

His sadness is gone and he fires back a quick, "Can I go outhside?"

The back door is still locked from the day and he isn't able to work the deadbolt...yet. That day is coming though.

"In a minute."

If I can get the baby into his room I'll let him finish his nap in the carseat. Is it ideal? No. But he's been teething lately and it's been difficult to keep him asleep once I pull him free, so I relent. He's almost a year old and has great neck control so I don't worry about him getting any torts or other issues.

"Mom, can I waths a show?"

I hold back a frustrated groan. He is my shadow, my eldest gremlin. I wave him back down the hallway as I set the carrier down in the nursery.

"Not right now," I whisper. The baby is still asleep, but Heaven only knows how long that peace will last.

My eldest disappears for all of three seconds as I shut the baby's door behind us.

"Mom I want to go outhside."

I still have to pee. I should have peed before I left work but I didn't think I had to go that bad. (Never trust the bladder; it lies. It says, 'don't worry, you don't have to go that bad. You have time.' You do have to go that bad, and you do not have time.)

"I know, Bug, just a minute."

He follows, but I am faster. I shut the door to the tiny toilet room, feel it shudder under his hands as he smacks it, hear a small whine, and almost laugh when I see his fingers digging under the door. I can already picture him bent double with one cheek to the floor, trying to see into the bathroom.

"Can we play foot game?" he asks. He likes when I slowly peek my toes out from under the door so he can 'catch them'.

Normally I humor him, because deescalating a meltdown is much harder than just letting him tickle my toes while he cackles in glee, but I don't have time. I can hear the baby making noises through the monitor; small grunts of anger that are often followed by shrill screams and crying.

I want to put the rest of the groceries away.

(In a tactical move, I grocery shop in the morning before work. It's a tight run between getting everyone ready for the day, but if I plan it right, it's nice to go shopping when the store isn't so crowded. When I have enough time leftover, I come home and put the cold stuff away.)

As it stands, my kitchen counter is a mess of groceries that were neglected in this mornings rush.

"Mom, can we play foot game?" My eldest asks again after not getting an answer for ten seconds.

"Not right now, mommy has to put the groceries away."

I flush the toilet to drown out the sound of his whining.

It doesn't work. I can still hear the shrill, "I want to play foot game!"

"In a minute, Bug," I say, annoyance seeping into my tone while I step out to wash my hands. He is at my leg, sobbing into it with crocodile tears.

"Not fair, I never get to do noffing!"

I have no idea where he picked that line up from, but it's been his favorite lately; it is both hilarious and button-pushing. Right now it's just annoying.

The baby is crying softly. The toddler is crying dramatically. Hell, I almost want to cry from the frustration. Why can't coming home with the boys be easy?

"I want a pouch!" he yells.

That snaps what little thread of self-control I still had and I'm shouting, "In a minute!"


His little teary eyes go wide then narrow as his eyebrows dip. It's an ugly looking glare he inherited from me and it simmers my anger down, reattaching my little threads.

"I'm leaving!" he shouts, whipping around to march off to a different part of the house.

I roll my eyes and grab his hand gently. "Bug, I'm sorry I yelled." He stops and turns with that same hateful look. "I just need a minute to get settled, then I will open the door and get you a snack, okay?"

His lips are pulled into a pout but he takes a deep breath, the way a good dinosaur does when they're trying to calm down.


"Okay." I release him and give him a hug. He is smiling when I look at him again. Ah, a child's emotions. They burn hotter than a flame, but are as fleeting as one too. I ask, "Can you apologize for being ugly to mom?"

"I'm sorry to apologize," he says. He'll get it right someday. But for today, he has calmed and goes to sit on the couch quietly.

Then the silence hits me. The baby isn't crying anymore.

I check on him through the monitor and find him back fast asleep in his carseat. Finally, there is peaceful quiet. I pull my phone out of my pocket and it lights up happily at the sight of my face. A heavy sigh falls from my lips.

It has been a minute.

I just need one more minute.

Short Storyfamily

About the Creator

J. L. Green

I've been writing for fun since I was a preteen and haven’t stopped since. I tend to favor the darker/angsty/thriller type of themes. Here’s to hoping readers enjoy my work, and those that don't find something they do.

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