Friday, November 21, 2008

In Which A Well-Intentioned Grocery Clerk Becomes Chelsa's Mortal Enemy

I used to be very nervous taking both kids out by myself. When Maggie was first born, I would take another grown-up with me whenever possible, and the logistics of who sat where in the grocery cart, or what to do if someone had a big tantrum with the one having the tantrum without abandoning the one not having the tantrum, took me a while to master. And by a while, I mean 18 months and counting. (Hey! Maggie will be 18 months old tomorrow! I just realized! And now I'm sad. Let's move on.) While calling myself a master of the two-child shuffle might never be something I'm comfortable with, I have gotten past the debilitating terror, and I go somewhere with the kids, by myself, almost every day. The park, the grocery store, the doctor's office -- we see the world, people. And while there is the occasional meltdown, public barfing, or smoothie spill, mostly we have pleasant jaunts with no loss of life or limb.
But not today.
At the grocery store we usually frequent, there is a young teenage checker who really likes Maggie. She is very nice and very pleasant and I don't blame her for liking Maggie. I have had small amounts of discomfort around the fact that she generally makes a very big deal about how cute Maggie is, while Max tries to get equal attention in a number of ways, which leaves me feeling sorry for him, which leads me to exclaim over Max a great deal while the teenage checker is conversing with us, which leads me to feel like one of those overly enthusiastic women who chirp instead of speaking and end every sentence with a sugary exclamation point. ("Max, how old are you? That's right, you're three!! What a smartie!!" and etc.)But I forgive the checker for all of this -- she is a young girl, and she likes babies, and she is maybe not quite mature enough to be sensitive to Max, but he is tough and well-loved from a number of other quarters, so whatever.
What I cannot forgive the checker for is the fact that she gave both children balloons today while we shopped. Don't get me wrong -- they were both delighted and they spent the rest of the shopping trip bonking themselves and each other and me with the balloons while crowing with glee, and we got a lot of amused looks and our cart was one big rocking party. But when we left the store, things got complicated.
Let me be clear -- things are not uncomplicated even at the best of times. Whichever kid I put in the car first, the other one gets up to grocery-cart escaping hi jinks. With the added element of two balloons, however, it was a comedy of fricking errors. I put Max in first, which took about a million years because he wanted to hold his balloon while being buckled in and it kept getting tangled up and finally I tied it to the arm of the seat so it wouldn't float into my field of vision while I was driving and kill us all and he didn't like the way I tied it and then he "tied' it himself and then I had to secretly secure it without spurning his independence and etc. I put the groceries in the car, and then I got Maggie. She wept bitterly the entire time I was putting her in her car seat, because her balloon was still tied to the cart and she thought we were leaving it behind. (I'm not going to lie -- I absolutely considered leaving it behind, and I would have done so if Maggie was even slightly less on the ball.) I retrieved the balloon, but was slightly at a loss, because I didn't want Maggie to yell the whole ride home because she yells really loudly, but balloons are a choking hazard and I didn't want to leave her in the rear-facing car seat with a balloon because I'd be turning around to make sure she wasn't eating it the whole way home and I'd probably drive into a tree and finish off whichever of us hadn't already perished in balloon-related atrocities. I attempted a compromise -- tying it to the seat in front of her, where she could see it but couldn't reach it. Like most compromises, this failed to please anyone. Maggie did, indeed, yell the entire way home. "Ba -oon! Where are you? Ba-oon! No no no nononononononononono! Where are you? Ba-oon! Maaamaaa! Where are you?" and etc. (Have I mentioned that Maggie speaks in grammatically correct complete sentences now? She does. It's freaky. It looks like some kind of voice-throwing trick.)And I had put the balloon close enough to her that I was worried she would somehow get ahold of it, so I kept turning around to check anyway. Our drive home, normally a ten minute breeze, today took twenty years.
And, of course, when we got home, in the flurry of getting everyone and all the groceries out of the car, guess what happened? Come on, if you were writing this story, what is the only possible way it could end?
That's right. One of the balloons escaped and sailed off into the heavens. Maggie threw herself to the pavement in bereaved betrayal. And I accidentally taught the kids a new swear word.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dear Weirdo Neighbor Whose Aquaintance I Have For Some Reason Not Yet Made,

I don't really have an issue with you walking your dog right outside my window. I would personally cut other people's patios a wider berth, but you are on public property, and maybe your dog really likes that bush right by our house, so, fine. I am, I must admit, puzzled by the fact that you seem to have named your dog, "Hi", but people's processes for naming their beloved wards are unique and personal and I would never question your right to own a dog named Hi if that's your thing. Get a matching one and name it "Bye", and I will still back you up, Buddy. I am loyal like that. To random strangers who live in my apartment complex.
If you are going to have a dog named Hi, and if you and Hi have some sort of attraction to the bush right outside my patio door, and if Hi is the kind of dog who requires constant and extremely loud repetition of his name, you really should not be surprised if, upon occasion, the young children living in the house behind your treasured bush think that you are yelling "Hi! Hi! Hi!" in order to greet them, and respond accordingly. Nor should you give a dirty look to the aforementioned young children, even if one of them is not wearing pants when he hails you.
A friendly piece of advice from me to you. Say hi to Hi for me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Am Just So Confused

Max to Mama, post jog: I was crying while you were gone, Mama.

Mama: Yeah, Dad told me. Why were you crying?

Max: Because I just didn't want you to go jog, actually.

Mama: Well, I'm sorry you were sad, Buddy. But I was only gone a short while, right?

Max: No. Also I died.

Mama: What?

Max: I died, you know. Years ago. I was resting and I was crying, and that means I died.


Max: It's something that happened.

Mama: I just really think your dad would have mentioned it to me if you had died.

Max: No. He wouldn't. Dad ... my dad said no, he wasn't going to tell you.

Mama: So you died, but now you're alive again?

Max: No, Mama. Hey! My next grandfather has a space ship, you know? He does. Thatwise Joey and I are going to ride in it last morning.

Mama: ???

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Crazy, Thanks For Asking. And How Are You?

The offspring have a bad case of the Possessed by the Devils today. Maggie was up until 11:14 last night, and sadly, last night was not the first night she has decided to stay up late. Today, as I predicted to her at 11:12, she is cranky. She keeps trying to nap, and then Max, who went to bed early and willingly last night but today seems to have drunk from the well of Hyper Insanity, keeps waking her up because he wants to play with her. I have repeatedly requested a leave of absence from momhood today, and I have been repeatedly reminded that no replacement is available on such short notice, and I will therefore have to stay. Stupid non-union job.
(By the way, the picture is irrelevant to the tale of woe, except that it features both children napping together back when both children napped together, and it reminds me of happier and more rested times. It also probably sabotages my sympathy votes, as all and sundry will look at the picture, soak in its adorableness, and immediately take the children's side of this and every argument. Here's something I have learned the hard way, though, people: children can definitely be both adorable and capable of great wickedness.)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bask In The Irony

This is the book that Maggie just took off the shelf and chucked at my head. Then she laughed.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Because The Dictionary Is For The Unimaginative

Max often talks like a three-year old little old man. He mutters to himself when he is irritated, he says, "actually", and "years ago" and "when I was a boy" in everyday casual conversation, and he is one short step from giving lectures that begin "back in my day" and end with "you pesky kids get off my lawn!" It amuses me greatly, and then my amusement often irritates him, inspiring another round of scholarly lectures and crabby muttering, which then amuses me further, and around we go. Because he is three, though, and not eighty five, his ability to pontificate like an Oxford Professor is hampered by some profound gaps in his verbosity. Undaunted, Max fills these gaps in with what can only be described as utter nonsense. "This is a deem dong bon" he will announce authoritatively, holding up a drawing or a lego construction. "I was building it years ago, when I was a boy." He slays me.
His latest piece of non-language is a word he invented himself, and which he uses constantly. The word is 'thatwise', and it seems to stand in, meaning-wise, for some combination of 'therefore', 'otherwise', 'ergo', and 'except for'. "Mama!" he bellowed at me this morning, in response to an innocent query about his need to pee status, "I already went to the potty years ago! I don't want to go pee. Thatwise I am going to be mad!" And then, five minutes later, he peed on the floor.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Halloween That Was Awesome In Spite Of Itself

Truthfully, I am a bit of a Halloween Scrooge. I like it in theory -- candy is tasty, pumpkins are carvable and also orange (my favorite color), and who doesn't like dressing up? (Max, as it turns out, but that part comes later in the story.) The thing is, having been a gestational diabetic one and a half times, and having been told in no uncertain terms by several doctors that sugar is not my friend and never will be, the candy has lost a certain amount of appeal. Plus, it turns out that Maggie really, really, really, really likes chocolate, and that she really, really, really, really really, really, really, REALLY gets hyper when she so much as licks a rudimentary crust of a single m&m. AND, no one likes carving the pumpkins except me, and I feel sort of like a tragic figure sitting by myself caressing pumpkin innards while Ian and the kids play elsewhere. AND, most importantly, costumes for kids are either expensive (if you buy them) or time-consuming (if you make them), and the weather in California is such that no matter what you do, you are gambling. (I dressed Max in a fur wolf suit for his first Halloween. It was 87 degrees. I still feel guilty.)
Max went through several costume ideas -- Wall-E, Buzz Lightyear, Green Lantern, a Crisnol (no, he doesn't mean crysTal, but beyond that, I have no idea what a crisnol is or what it looks like, so I was relieved when that costume idea was abandoned) -- and finally settled on Batman. My parents found a Batman costume in a thrift store, Max pronounced himself pleased, and we all felt the warm glow of an issue resolved. I was going to put a monster face on the hood of one of Maggie's sweatshirts, but then I didn't, and at the last second I found a little butterfly suit on sale, and while it is not the most practical purchase ever (I think she's already outgrown it, and it is a hand-wash only item, which, please), she was a delight to behold in it and so I felt good about that, too. Our plan was to swing through the downtown Halloween party circuit, eat a prudent but decadent amount of sugar, and then maybe watch a spooky episode of Word World with Ian when he got home.
However, like the saying goes, the best laid plans of bats and butterflies so often go awry. Max liked his costume, but it offended him in some way, too. He said that it was itchy, but I don't really think that was the problem. I think that it just freaked him out somehow to have his identity messed with. When he was called Batman, he firmly disagreed, reminding all and sundry that he was "just a Max". He reluctantly kept his costume on long enough for me to take some not-very-good pictures (see my last post), and then shed it in favor of a Halloween-themed tee and some spooky orange crocs. Then, with the fact that Max had no costume and was not in favor of costumes in general, the fact that it was raining, and the fact that by the time we got all of the costume-no-costume hullabaloo squared away it was 4 pm, we decided to skip the downtown thing. I was feeling badly -- Max and Maggie are still little enough not to care too much, but still -- and so I proposed a walk to the park in between rain bouts.
The park -- and this is the point of my freakishly long and rambling tale -- was AWESOME. The rain and the Halloween combined to make it more or less deserted, the light was that weird late-afternoon raincloud light, and we had a delightful romp. And, while we romped, I took a bunch of pictures (and I do mean A BUNCH, so I hope you are sitting in a comfy chair if you are planning on scrolling through all of them), and they all turned out a million times better than my sad attempts at posed pictures at home. I am not sure what the moral of this story is, other than that I need to blog more often so that I don't get all pent up and then write an epic novel like this has turned out to be, but we had fun in unexpected ways, and now, thanks to Daylight Saving Time ending (curse you, Daylight Saving Time, and may a thousand potato bugs crawl over your lonely grave!), both children are asleep in bed at the unheard of hour of 7:52. Good Times.