The Yellow M&M
It began when the fast food restaurant gave her 19-month-old son a fun-size bag of M&Ms instead of a toy.
Oh sweet! She thought. Candy for me!
They went out to the playground, but it was too cold and drizzly to really enjoy, so she plucked the boy off the dirty ladder and carried him to her car. She put him down so she could open to car door, but he screamed and lay flat on the pavement—a picture of a tortured childhood.
Exasperated, she buckled him in, and then went to the driver's seat. "Two miles home… I really don't want to drive through the drizzle and the screaming." The small packet of M&Ms came to mind. She doesn't usually give her child food in the car. She really wants to avoid the fate of having french fries ground into the carpet and a constant sour-milk smell. But she has no choice—she can't hand him M&Ms while she's driving.
She took a breath… and, tortured, ripped a hole in the bag. "Here you go, sweetheart! It's OK... Look, Mommy's giving you candies!" She didn't know what would happen. She didn't know. She suspected, but she couldn't know.
The first clue was that he spilled the bag between his legs. "Uh-oooh," she heard from the back seat.
"Oh, that's OK," she cooed. "Mommy will get them for you at the next stoplight!"
And at the next light, she was true to her word. She dug four small candy-coated chocolates from under the toddler's legs. He continued to eat, grinning at her in the rear-view mirror.
When they arrived home, she pulled him out the car and looked at the damage. "Oh, look!" She said to her son, as she chuckled nervously to herself, "You missed a blue one!"
"Blue?" He asked, looking up at his mother.
"Yup, right here!" She said, as she snagged wayward blue M&M from the carseat and handed it to him. He munched it as they walked to the house.
The mother was relieved. It could have been much worse. She imagined melted candy coating smeared all over the upholstery, and bits of M&M scattered in crevasses that would never see a vacuum. It could have been much worse.
Three days later, it was.
Three days later, she had forgotten all about her M&M-based fears. Three days later, she was pulling her son out of his carseat at the end of a long day at work, and she saw…
The yellow M&M.