1. Travel back in time to the moment just before the mother is leaving the house to go to the supermarket. “Don’t forget to take Hunkerdoodle,” tell her, referring to the purple and green musical stuffed toy which usually puts Jonas into an agreeable trance. When she looks up from the floor where she’s kneeling down to put socks on Jonas and says, “‘How did you get in here? What the fuck are you doing in my house?” say, “You’re welcome.”2. Travel back in time to 1930, when Michael Cullen opened the first King Kullen store, the grandfather of retail supermarkets. Point out to Mr. Cullen that every single element of the modern supermarket – the fluorescent lighting, the chromatic packaging, the character product tie-ins and the unrelenting candy – seems designed to drive most small children insane, and that when combined together they will inexorably lead to the worst moment of any SAHM’s day. Plant some alternative ideas in his head. “How about a soft-lit sensory room with fish projections gently swimming across the isles?” you might suggest. “Or a cozy tent?” When Cullen replies, “Why are you carrying a ladies’ bag?” just say, “Everything is about to get really bad. And then it will get worse. Also, the Wizard is just some guy behind a curtain.”
3. Travel back in time 10,000 years to New Guinea, where homo sapiens first domesticated sugarcane at the end of the last Ice Age. Tell them how ‘White Gold’ is destined to become the world’s most evil food, driving the transatlantic slave trade and leading to unprecedented, colossal human suffering. Tell them about the modern epidemic of obesity which is at least partially due to the fact that our Digital Age brains are exactly like theirs, and we’re still programmed to eat whatever we see in front of just us as hunter-gatherers did. Finally, tell them about Jonas’ tantrum which was triggered when his mother refused to place a box of multi-colored breakfast cereal, whose toucan spokes-character was making direct eye contact with Jonas, in the shopping cart. “Just leave it alone,” tell the Micronesian ancestors. If that doesn’t work say, “Look over there. Some taro!”
4. Re-trace your steps back to the moment when the mother is about to leave the house for the supermarket. “You should have put the $2300 you spent travelling to Costa Rica after college in a low-risk investment,” tell her. “Then you’d have money for a babysitter. And you still haven’t found Hunkerdoodle! It’s like you want this to be a crap day.” If that doesn’t work, go to the supermarket ahead of her and tase the other shoppers with a sonic gun. Then at least no one will judge the mother when Jonas goes bananas.
5. Travel back in time to 2007, when the mother finally agrees to go out with the shy mid-level manager who has admired her from afar for many years. Steal her away from him and marry her. Together, you will create a different child, one whose meltdown trigger is being denied iPad time rather than sugary junk. Now, before the time-space continuum has a chance to calibrate, travel back to the supermarket where Jonas is flipping his lid. Walk right up to the mother, who is starting to become transparent because of the rip you created in the Fourth Dimension, and say, “Don’t worry. You and I are going to have such great sex together.” When she looks as if she’s trying to decide whether to cry or knee you in the groin, explain how none of this matters because in just a few minutes everything she knows as reality will cease to exist. Then say, “Sorry you’re having a hard time with your kid. It happens to everyone.”