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Friday after work Mike and I picked the boys up from daycare and decided to run a few errands. Truman is always starving right after we pick him up. Every day he gets buckled in to his seat and says, “Gunrey!” (Which is his adorable way of saying hungry.) Since there is a considerable amount of time between picking him up and when we get dinner on the table, I try to keep some kind of snack available to tide him over. On Friday I had peanut butter crackers on hand. I gave him two, buckled him in and we headed off. Mike and I chatted on the way to our bank, Truman happily eating his crackers and Grant sleeping sweetly. After about five minutes, Truman loudly declared he was done.

“MOOORRRRE! Stratchers!”

“Ok, Truman. I’ll get you more crackers when we stop.” I answered back. Another five or ten minutes later, Mike turned into the Bank of America drive through and we waited for the person in front of us at the ATM. Just as Mike pulled forward and began entering his PIN, a blood curdling scream erupted from the backseat. Truman started wailing and screaming incoherently. I know his cries. This one was pure pain. How in the world could he have hurt himself strapped into a car seat?

“Truman! What happened? Are you okay?” I unbuckled my seatbelt, but couldn’t get out of the van in the middle of the bank drive through with cars behind us. The way the car seats are set up, I couldn’t get around Grant’s seat to get to Truman who is in the far back. “Truman! What’s wrong Honey? Are you okay? What happened Baby?” He wasn’t answering, just screaming and screaming. I had no choice but to wait until we could pull into a parking spot so I would be able to get out of the van and climb back in the back. Mike was trying to hurry up and finish with the ATM, both of us were trying to find out what was going on back in the third row.

“BLAHhahahaaaaaaaaaa! Mamamama (incoherent screaming) WHAAAAAAAA!!!!!”
“Hold on Babe, I’m coming!”
Ear splitting, horrid, send chills down your spine screams kept coming.
“Truman! Are you ok?” Mike sounded worried now.

Mike finished up and shot forward. “Oh my God, pull up hurry, hurry, hurry.” The van barely came to a stop in the parking space and I jumped out. I ripped open the door and climbed into the back seat to see Truman, tears pouring down his face, snot rolling, head thrown back in a wail. I started checking him all over looking for blood, bruises, some kind of stinging insect, a missing limb… there was nothing. “Truman what hurts? Show me. Can you show me what hurts?”

“shmanagegklenvjkf… WHAAAAAA…” Sobbing.
“Are your straps too tight?” I starting feeling all around, the straps were fine, the buckle wasn’t digging in anywhere. Nothing was pinched in a clip.
“Nooooo! Stanvnrjnfdf…” More sobbing.
“Honey, I can’t understand you. You have to calm down!” As I completely started to panic, Mike suddenly popped up in the middle seat behind Truman, leaning over head doing the same thing that I was: touching and feeling for something…what? No clue.
“St…stra…stra…” The screams had now turned to deep, heaving sobs, partial words came out in great hiccupping gasps. The tears were just pouring from my baby’s big tortured eyes. I felt myself getting shaky, and I started unbuckling everything. I just had to get him in to my arms. Was he sick? Did he swallow something sharp and dangerous?
“Honey, I can’t help you if I don’t know what is wrong! Please, tell me what happened!” I was getting shrill, and I was ready to cry. I almost had him out, my hands fumbling over the last buckle, when he gathered his strength and yelled…

“STRATCHERS!”

Everything froze around me. Mike looked at me. I looked at him. We both looked at Truman. He was no longer screaming. Time stopped.

I looked Truman in the eye and used every bit of restraint in my body to ask him, my voice barely above a whisper, “Is this about crackers?”

He nodded. Big crocodile tears dripping off his chubby little cheeks, a stuttering little sigh escaped and he calmly repeated, “Stratchers?”

“This is about crackers?!?!?”

Mike started laughing, so what could I do? Shaking my head still stunned, I buckled him back up.

“Yes, Truman. You can have more crackers. Next time, can you just ask nicely? You scared me! I though you were hurt…” Further explanation was futile. He’s two. He doesn’t care if I almost peed my pants and had a heart attack. He doesn’t care that I was ready to jump out of a moving vehicle into traffic (ok, a barely moving vehicle into bank drive through traffic, but what ever) to save him. He just wanted stratchers. He wanted them a whole lot apparently, and maybe thought asking wouldn’t work. Who knows what goes on in his head! I gave him two crackers and told him that that was it until dinner. He happily ate them and chattered about buses and cars the whole way home. It took until we pulled in the driveway for my heart beat to regulate.

Mother Lovin’ Stratchers.

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