Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shuffleboard Meets Hopscotch

If Happy Little Bluebirds Fly Beyond the Rainbow . . . .

"Why oh why can't I?"

We've been running like crazy, but now that my syllabi are made, and I'm nearly done with the research for a presentation in a couple of weeks, you'll see a flurry of posts attempting to summarize the last couple months of summer vacation.

It's funny though, even as I write that time line--the last two months--and blame my lack of posting on work, because Big has ramped up his two-year-old-ness in a major way. And that has definitely contributed to the lessening of my degrees of freedom.

Between him and Eight, I am reminded of that Office Depot back-to-school commercial where the kids are moping around the store and the mom is skipping about grabbing school supplies.

Ahhhhh back to school.

Big has taken a reverse in his ability-to-exist-independently, not because he has no interest in being without me, and not because he is physically unable, but because he is so incredibly destructive. Destructive to stuff, himself and other people. My ears are now keenly perked toward any quiet in the house, and my eyes to any little gleam in his own eyes announcing some diabolical idea to throw, hit, climb, jump off of, open, close, swing from, pour out of, rip, or tear.

I never understood before (or cared really) about the degree to which each alcoholic drink lessens one's reaction time. But now I need to be at the top of my game just to keep up with him. If he's tired or hungry, that just compounds the issue.

So I guess that is why the following two incidents, which occurred at an upstate Minnesota Resort that we attended with the Family-of-Six recently, incidents that were really OUR own fault, not the growing and over-tired Big, and his increasing interest in speed, aggression and all-round adventure.

On one lovely evening, while the adults gathered in our semi-circle of chairs overlooking the lake for the requisite evening cocktail, the kids were running around, letting off steam, and getting ready for dinner themselves.

We had brought Big's Skuut, which goes everywhere with us now. It feels, to me, like a necessary appendage to an already overburdened Sherpa. But it makes him happy once we're where we need to go, and, as is always on our checklist of goals for any given day, it works to wear him out.

He's gotten better about being aware of the ends of sidewalks, driveways, and roads, etc., but often forgets to protect his main mode of breaking (his feet) with shoes.

Often he'll hop on, already gathering speed before I realize that he won't be able to stop himself without bloodying his toes, and head off after him, Crocs in hand.

On this particular occasion, I was pre-drink, but overestimated Big's ability to negotiate the terrain. He had headed off, and reached the top of a little downhill when he turned to see me coming, Crocs in hand.

With a shit-eating grin on his little face (and I know this is an over-used term, but it just fits his naughty, nothing-but-potential-grin so well), he turned away, toward the lake with ever more resolve.

I expected him to reach the sidewalk and the flowerbed below, and to hear screams from the stubbed toe he'd get from stopping himself.

Instead, I caught up with him in time to watch his front wheel bump up and over the end of the flower bed and his body flip up over the four foot wall to the beach.

Luckily, he escaped with only a bump on his noggin.

This was nearly not the case for some unsuspecting swimmers after Big's next "incident".

It is entirely possible that the owners will uninvite us to the resort next year.

It was our last day and BioMom and I had been imbibing in a couple of last-minute vacation beers, on which I blame my slow reaction.

Big was beginning to wind up, not having had a nap, and probably feeling all of our sad, end-of-vacation energy.

He ran over to the shuffleboard game and stole one of those big, clay shuffleboard pucks.

Before I could stop him, he flung it over a deck rail toward the pool deck a floor below. All I could do is run to the edge and warn people below.

Fortunately no one was hurt, but that's the sort of thing that wakes you up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. Those what if's that you know would have sent your life splaying in a different dimension.

This is all to say that school starts for me next week. I'm back to my commute, but for only one semester. After two years of not commuting I'm of mixed minds on this. I'd rather not be away from home, but am looking forward to a night's break, listening to books on tape, and getting re-involved with a group to which I belong.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Copycat Grocery List: Check. Pint Sized Handcuffs: Check

So Lesbian Dad posted about an adventure-filled visit to the grocer the other day on her blog.

I piped in (a bit too soon, and certainly too insouciantly, as you'll see) about how it gets easier. Not so much that kids don't bolt when they're Eight, its just that you don't worry (care) about it as much. To reiterate my comment over there, you come to realize that there's a window that kidnappers don't want them (when they're not cute babies or cute teenagers I suppose) and they KNOW you have no ransom, so why suffer through the tantrums of a two-year-old or the whines of an eight for a few lousy bucks? With Eight who regularly pushes the limits with how far she'll fall behind on an outing, I suspect to exercise a bit of freedom and personal choice, I usually resort to the "natural consequence" discipline and perk my ears for the potential comment on the loudspeaker blaring my name and my lost child's waiting for me at checkout.

It's actually win-win when you think about it. . .

Anyway. The other night (while the three additional kids and two adults) were visiting we realized at quite a late hour that there was in fact going to be a National Night Out celebration on our block. Big had not napped and was quickly loosing gas, yet I needed to go to the grocery store. I didn't dare leave the one kid nearly voted off the island over the past few days to even my worst enemy and BioMom was not yet home from gathering the bacon.

So off we headed.

The whole way there I attempted to tee up a "quick shop" with him in the big grocery cart, and how we'd go fast like the wind.

When we got there, however, he immediately saw one unused kiddie cart with his name all over it and promptly demanded that he push that instead.

Lesbian Dad's commitment to not use her size/power/strength over the little ones is always in the form of a little devil or angel over my shoulder in such situations, giving advice where needed. Here, I had the time, and possibly the energy to let him push his own cart but, in retrospect, I clearly didn't have the judgment to direct his attention elsewhere and quickly grab him up and into the big cart's kidseat.

Oh, Retrospect, what a frustrating beauty are you?

It all started out okay. He was only distracted for a few minutes with the corner of breakable kid's toys early on in the store, before the veggies and fruit, and I faced an army of friendly shoppers admiring my patience and willingness to shop at a child's pace, and his tedious but determined attempts to move the cart from point A to point B without running over tender Achilles' heels.

He picked out one of those huge bins of organic strawberries on sale now, some onions and asparagus, a lemon and some apples to replenish the refrigerator.

All was going well.

We ran into a parent at Eight's school whom I haven't seen this summer and we got to chatting a bit about the Star Wars Exhibit going on at the Science Museum and Big headed toward the Jelly Belly display, bringing back various options for my review to take home "for the other kids"!

How generous was he to bring a FIVE POUND bag!

I quickly switched it out for a small bag and that marked the beginning of our descent to hell.

He doubled over and screamed that piercing scream that makes you wish you had needles to poke into your eyes and ears to make the pain go away, or at least to inflict more pain in order to make that sound seem relatively less onerous. A veritable symphony in comparison.

The mustard isle distracted him, but now he was on to the Indian pre-made dried meals and got stuck on where to return the box that I refused to purchase.

He gets a little O.C.D.

Two isles later I realized that I had forgotten the pickles. Eff it. There's no going backward now!

We're picking up speed now and I'm leaning down and guiding his little stroller while pulling mine behind me with my less-coordinated lefty, so that it won't hit innocent heels, or dump shelves of canned goods, all to his increasingly loud insistence that HE DO IT!!! Combined with him pulling his little cart away and attempting to fly in the opposite direction: FAST!!! FAST!!! He says.

At this point, the clientèle's are not as impressed and isles frantically clear as we turn corners into them.

I find myself allowing Hershey's strawberry flavor into his cart, something I've never noticed before, let alone purchased, in an attempt to appease his energy and try to tell myself that it is really a feminist purchase as it is pink and I am expanding his options of gender expression through his drink choices.

The syrup bottle had not landed in the basket when Big took the ginormous bin of strawberries and in slow motion, turned it over spilling the entire contents. I felt like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible dropping to within one inch of the floor with my entire body spanning open and reaching for loose strawberries as they rolled aimlessly.

One woman gave me a sympathetic look and I thought: THIS is my life???

By this time, with my attentions occupied, Big was entirely revved up and began, literally, running up and down the isles giggling and screaming with delight. I would see him at one endcap, grabbing product willy-nilly only to immediately toss aside, head that way, and by the time I got there, he'd be at the opposite one.

His glee growing with geometric proportions to my frustration.

At that point One and Two-Of-Four showed up as though planted there in front of me by GOD himself, a chorus of angels and a beam of light shining down on them.

I'll buy you each anything in the store if you help me now!

For a bottle of liquid yogurt and a box of Mike and Ike's I got my pickles and Big through the checkout and into the carseat.


Nearly priceless.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

At the Local Kiddie Zoo

Today with Cousin and Neighbor-Friend-From-Graduate school, five (count 'em, FIVE) kids in tow, ranging from 8 months to 8 years. The whole time I'm thinking to myself: Holy Shit! Some women have this number and this age-range of kids and. . . They're THEIRS!!!

This is Friend's first visit as a parent, and being all relatively neophytes about the whole thing, much parenting discussion ensues over bottles of wine, such as: when you have more than one kid, who gets screwed most? The first or the ones that follow? Or what's up with all those parents sending their kids to genius schools at age five and thinking they're prodigies? You know. Conversations like that.

Or often it is comparing our (little) experience as parents to those of our parents or doing some sort of parent-anthropomorphism where we are suddenly late-sixties, early seventies parents smoking and drinking and talking and spending very little time monitoring our young children.

Friend has a story in which her four year old brother and three year old sister were allowed the freedom of the cul-de-sac to go over to the neighbor's to play. He was subsequently hit by a car and suffered a broken arm.

No wonder we over-parent. . .

Anyway. At the zoo, at one point we were walking over some monkey exhibit (I don't know all monkey species) but it was one of those two-storied, outdoor-indoor exhibits. We were at the upper-outdoor part wandering toward the exit when Big said he wanted to go "in there". I said that sure, I'd throw you in! Then he said: Then I'd be a gorilla and you'd say 'look at that big gorilla'!