As we left his baby sitter's last night Graham begged to go and see his Oma on the way home.
I hesitated because he is recovering from a cold and she is ill.
But when he began to chant, "I want to see Oma! I want to see Oma!", I relented in the hopes that a quick visit from him would lift her spirits and break up the excruciating wait for further tests she is being forced to endure.
We only stayed for 15 minutes and Graham was a nightmare the entire time we were there.
He refused to give her a hug and then shouted and slapped at me when I tried to implore him to behave. When I decided to ignore him and just visit with her myself, Graham stomped on the floor and tried to pull me away.
When I scolded him and put him in a time out in another room, his chants of "NO!" were so loud that we could barely conduct a conversation. When, exasperated, I rose to scold him yet again, I saw he had tossed my boots, her bag and an area rug down the basement stairs.
"It's okay," my mother-in-law said. "He's tired."
And he was. But I was pissed. And irritated. Graham had begged me to come. She needed a lift. All he had to do was show up and act cute.
I put his coat on and brusquely shuttled him back out to the car.
"I'm very disappointed with the way you acted Graham," I admonished as I buckled him into his car seat. "You were not very nice to Oma."
"NO!" he shouted.
I sighed and slammed the car door harder than I should have.
The ride home was silent. I caught his eye once, deliberately, in the rear view mirror and frowned to convey my continuing anger and disappointment. Graham glared at me and defiantly looked away.
By the time we pulled into the driveway I didn't feel like fighting anymore: I just felt tired.
I unbuckled him solemnly.
"I'm sorry mommy." The words burst from him like water from a dam. "I'm sorry I wasn't very nice to Oma and I want a huggy."
And so I hugged him there in the car in the freezing dark evening.
And he clung to me so tightly and for so long that I finally just carried him into our house like that, with his damp face buried in my shoulder and his little arms wrapped around my neck like he never wanted to let go.