Thursday, April 17, 2014

And now, swearing

The baby monitor crackled and hissed to my right. Near my feet, Strawberry sang a senseless song while dancing Big Bird and a cow around a big yellow chicken. I sat back in my computer chair, sighing.  Puppy was finally asleep and I could actually get some work done. Sipping a soda, I opened Microsoft Word, then immediately clicked over to facebook "just for a minute while the document loads..."

"Eh. Eh. Eh."

I glared at the baby monitor.


Strawberry dropped her toys on the floor and rolled her eyes. "Aw, shit, really Puppy?"

I choked on my soda and blurted, "Strawberry!" before mentally acknowledging this was all my fault. Well, my husband's a little, too. But the kids spend most of their day with me, so mostly mine.

Lesson learned: the kids are ALWAYS listening. ALWAYS.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

And now, (a lack of) social interaction

I'm so bad at social interaction.

I would say, "You have no idea," but I'm about to tell you how bad I am so you'll know in a moment. I've never been particularly extroverted, but it's been worse the last few years. I blame it on being chronically sleep deprived. THAT should be in the parenting books. "After Giving Birth, Chapter 8: You Will Never Have a Fully Coherent Conversation Again. For the Rest Of Your Life. Ever."

Anyway. It was one of those days where the kids desperately needed to get out of the apartment (is there ever a day when this isn't the case?) so we went to a children's museum, located inside a mall. It's a great place, geared mainly towards the 5 and under crowd, with a huge water play section, books, giant Lite-Brite, fish tanks, even a semi truck cab open for kids to play in.

Strawberry enjoyed this for approximately two minutes. Then she wanted to go back out into the mall. You see, one wall of the museum is nothing but windows, and those windows look out onto the part of the mall that every parent hates. The mall rides. For just four quarters, your child can sit in a completely unsanitized, 80s era vague-animal-that-might-be-a-dog,-possibly-a-bear and listen to generic mechanical squawks that kind of resemble music, while the dog-maybe-bear either flies around so violently your kid gets whiplash, or barely jiggles from side to side--which one you get is a surprise! But the parents take one look and say "Yeah, NO I'm not spending quarters on that," which immediately and forever impresses among children that these must be The Most Sacred, Amazing, Incredibly Life-Altering Dog-Maybe-Bears ever, because Mom and Dad said "No." And so they are always flooded with young children climbing all over the stationary rides while parents stand around, warily glancing at all the other parents, ready to stab the first person who decides to pop in a few quarters and thus show all the kids that they will actually move around if money is spent. Because if there's one thing kids are experts at, it's making you spend money on random crap for them.

I dragged Strawberry away from the window. Puppy was asleep in his baby carrier and I wanted him to take at least a half hour nap. I tried to entice her away from the window, throwing plastic balls into a mock river. She took the bait.

Annoyingly, other kids were starting to drag their parents out to the rides. Strawberry, who is only two but still notices things like Other Kids Are Going Where I Want To Go But Mommy Said No, Now It's Time To Whine, started heading towards the door again. We were really at the mall to get her new shoes and as she tugged at my leg I decided that shoe shopping while Puppy was still asleep was not a bad idea, so we headed out. Strawberry ran straight to a dilapidated ride that resembled an ice cream truck in a horror movie and climbed in. I checked the time on my phone and decided I'd give her five minutes, max, before we headed to a store.

There was another mother there, also watching her kid climb all over the rides while never actually saying the forbidden words, "Do you want me to put in a quarter and make it go?" Puppy was stirring in the baby carrier and I absently played with his foot while keeping one eye on Strawberry and trying to remember which shoe store was closer.

I had just decided that I might as well hike across the mall to the store I figured we'd have the most luck at when the other mom to my right said something, and I panicked when I realized she had directed her comment at me.

"WHAT?" I started, in a voice loud enough to probably scare off most people.  I silently cursed my unintentional abrasiveness. The brave mother calmly plunged on.

"I said, these are great sippy cups, aren't they?" She held up her kid's sippy cup, which was the same as ours.

"Oh, yes. The sippy cup. They're great," I floundered.

"We went through so many before we found these. They're the only ones that truly don't leak!"

"Yeah. No leaks. I mean, we had a lot of cups before, too. That leaked. These don't leak. They're great."

The mother's smile slowly froze on her face. I tried to smile back to show her that, see, I am a normal person, just a little tired from dragging two young kids around the mall before noon. It must have been a mortally offensive expression I gave her because she turned around and moved closer to her child.

I gritted my teeth. Really, I just wanted to grab my kid and run away but then I figured someone would call 911 to report what looked like a kidnapping, so I moved towards Strawberry. "One more minute, then we will go look for new shoes."

"One minute new shoes," she agreed as she continued pushing random buttons. I zoned out, wondering if I should stop to get ice cream on the way to the shoe store. I noticed the woman from before grab her child's hand, causing him to protest, then start hauling him away. She shot a look in my direction. That's when I realized that what I called "zoning out" looked very much like I had been giving her child a murderous glare.

I am so very bad a social interactions.

Friday, April 4, 2014

And Now, Elephant

Strawberry loves elephants. I can't blame her, elephants are cool. No one messes with elephants unless they're supremely dumb or have a death wish, elephants are super intelligent, sometimes bury their dead, all sorts of cool things. Like in a parallel universe I'd love to get a degree in something sciencey (you see how well I have thought this out) and then travel to Africa and study elephants, where all the animals would love me and never try to kill me. Strawberry has inherited my admiration of elephants and owns elephant figurines, elephant Duplos, etc. She loves them.

The other day I felt obliged to pack up the kids and go somewhere. The sun was kind of out and we needed a change of scenery. I dragged everyone down to the parking garage, loaded up the carseats, and then tapped the steering will contemplatively with my finger as I waited for the garage door to open. I didn't really want to hit up the mall again, and it seemed dumb to drive to one of the nearby parks. Then I remembered that earlier, Strawberry had been singing a farm song I now automatically tuned out because of how often I heard it.

"Strawberry, today we are going to a farm!" I declared as I turned onto the road and Strawberry chirped, "Oh yeah, a farm!"

"On the farm we can see sheep, and goats, and cows and chickens," I continued, trying to be a Good Mom by getting her hyped up.

"Seep an goat an cow!" she repeated. "And a ticken! MMM!"

So maybe there was a tiny hole in my plan, but never mind. We're lucky enough to live about twenty minutes away from a farm that's part of a city's park. It used to be a real, working farm, but instead of bulldozing over it as the city expanded they incorporated it into their park system and keep a fair amount of animals and pastures open to the public. Parents are there with their toddlers all the time, for obvious reasons.

We pulled into the parking lot. Puppy was calm and looked around with interest, rather than scorn, as I loaded him into our Ergo baby carrier. Strawberry looked up and noticed a hawk chilling on the streetlight next to our car. This was A Good Plan, I thought to myself. We are out and the kids will have fun because this is one of those Important Enrichment Experiences all those child development books and websites talk about. My mood became even more optimistic when we entered the playground near the farm, I let Strawberry out of her stroller and she began happily running after ducks.

After a few minutes of causing ducks to retreat into a creek, I pointed Strawberry towards the farm buildings. She ran ahead of me as Puppy gnawed on the baby carrier straps. "Oh, iz a seep!" she exclaimed as three sheep munched on some grass near the edge of the fence. Two, clearly used to tiny primates screaming at them, kept on calmly eating. The third, a greyish fluffy fellow, looked wary and moved away as Strawberry jumped up and down yelling something nonsensical.

There were also rabbits, and rabbit butts. 

A rooster was crowing, and Strawberry ran towards the sound. We entered the chicken coop area and she danced around singing, "A ticken! A ticken! Coo doo doo doo!" Thankfully, she did not ask to eat them. After a few minutes she suddenly turned to me and said, "And now, elephant!"

I froze. "What? Elephant?"

"Yeah. Da elephant!"

"Oh...Strawberry...there are no elephants here. This is a farm."

Clearly, by the wide-eyed looked she gave me, she had no idea what I was talking about. I had brought her to a place with animals. Elephants were animals. Where were the elephants?! All those farm books and farm songs that never mentioned elephants meant nothing. Nothing.

I panicked and exclaimed, a bit too loudly going by the look another wandering mother gave me, "Let's see the COW now! A cow! See, cow!"

Strawberry ran to the fence and looked at the big brown cow in the pasture. My relief only lasted a second, as the next thing out of her mouth was, "Gentle pets da cow?"

"I'm sorry, Strawberry. We can't give the cow gentle pets. She is busy eating."

I got the same wide-eyed stare in return. "Gentle pets da cow?"

"...Let's go see the PIGS now! Pigs! Oink, oink, oink! Right?"

Parents of toddlers can never quite win.