Monday, March 26, 2012

Life Lessons: The Playground Edition, Part Deux

Yeah I just referenced a semi-crap Charlie Sheen movie with my title...what of it?

Okay, so it has been really beautiful outside in Mid-Mo so we've been spending quite a bit of time at the playground, prompting my second edition.  Here we go:

1.  While smoking may make you look/feel cool at a bar or french cafe, it is inappropriate for a playground.  Seriously?  Do I have to point this out?  Okay, so let me start by saying at one point in my more foolish life, I smoked.  I know, I know, it's bad for you.  That's why I don't do it anymore.  That, and I cannot stand listening to my sister bitch at me for even one more second in this lifetime.  Love you sis.  Anyway, there was a woman sitting in the playground area smoking a cigarette that was wafting very rudely right over where my precious, pink-lunged baby was playing on the slide.  Smoking is a choice that you are more than welcome to make on your own time, but don't do it around my kid, please.  Also, don't bury your cigarette butt in the playground mulch, for the love of God. 

2.  The sandbox is for playing, not bragging.  While Claire was very timidly trying to join in with some other children to "build a road," I had the pleasure of listening to two sets of parents brag back and forth about where they had gotten their child accepted for the coming term.  I also learned that Vietnam is lovely this time of year as they were also bragging about their most recent vacation.  Tickets to Vietnam are apparently $2,000 a piece.  Wow, I'm so glad you're sharing this information while your child runs mine over with his dump truck.  I also learned the pros and cons of using a Kindle as your travel guide and that iPads are far superior for this task.  Thank God I had on my sunglasses so they couldn't see me roll my eyes.

3.  When enjoying a cookie on the swings, it is not necessary to leave part of it behind for the next swinger.  There is nothing I like more than finding soggy cookie stuck to my child's butt.  It is even more delightful when said cookie was made soggy by someone elses' mouth.  Ew.  Wipe out the swings, please?  I'll try to keep my kid's honey wheat pretzel rod off the playground equipment if you keep the animal cookies off the swings.

4.  Pick up your trash.  Okay, this applies to more than just the playground.  I am always appalled by the amount of trash at the park.  There are trash cans and recycling bins every few feet.  Just pick one.  Please, choose appropriately though.  I noticed yesterday that the trashcan was filled to the brim with plastic bottles and soda cans while the recycle bin sat nearly empty.  It's like people are trying to not care.  Jerks.

5.  Judge as you would be judged...or something like that.  This one is a bit more complicated.  I saw Green Glass Dad at the park today.  He had Green Glass Mom with him, this time.  I'd never seen her before, but she looked just as I had imagined in my mind:  sort of hipster-esque with a side of hippy and probably in the single digits for body fat percentage.  For whatever reason this guy had always rubbed me the wrong way.  I don't know why.  He's never been anything but pleasant to me at the park and at the library.  I told myself while I was swinging the girls that it was because he has a judgey air about him.  Yeah, that's it.  He's all judgey and I don't like it.  Look at him there with his reusable bag picnic.  Yeah, I've got my plastic bag, what of it?  Looking all smug with his metal water bottle and [probably] vegan lunch.  Yeck.  Then, it hit me:  I'm the judgey one.  Shit.  I was standing there concerning myself with what this guy and his wife and child were doing and not soaking in every glorious moment of a perfectly sunny, breezy day at a park with two of my favorite people.  I'm the asshole.  I hate these moments.  So I stopped myself in my own tracks and did an about-face, literally.  I positioned myself on the other side of the swings so that I was facing the two most beautiful faces on earth with my back to the Green Glasses. 

Who knew the park could reveal so much to me in such simple contexts?  Not me.

On another note, we are moving at the end of the week, so each time I visit somewhere in Columbia, I contemplate whether it will be my last time there.  I can't lie, I've teared up quite a few times.  I'll miss this little town in the middle of Missouri, in the middle of the country.  It's been my home for 8 years.  I met my husband here, had my babies, and met some of the nicest, best people on the planet.  So, I guess I should say thanks.  Thanks, Columbia.  You've sucked at times (eh-hem, 24 inches of snow?), but you've been a really nice place to live.  As for the people, they know they're awesome and they know who they are. 

Hey, so you know how to get your kid to stop watching TV?  Turn on something they don't like.  This works with husbands, too.  It turns out Claire is not interested, even a bit, in HGTV.  I see many House Hunters marathons in my future.     

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Life Lessons, Playground Edition

It was a lovely week here in Mid-Mo and we took full advantage of it.  We hit the park several times and had very much fun and even learned a few life lessons.

I will share them with you now, because I know you are on the edge of your seat.

1.  Children have no awareness, or desire to become aware, of the line.  I like to call it the "queue" because it feels very European.  The kids at the park on Saturday not only cut in line, they literally(like actually, not literally like the teens say) pushed others out of the way.  Which brings me to my second life lesson...

2.  Children who push other children out of the way to use the slide do not have parents anywhere nearby.  These apparent park-orphans run a-muck with no regard for rules and order.  They will knock your child down  You will want to knock them out, I mean down, to give them a taste of their own medicine.  See next life lesson.

3.  Knocking another child down, even if they have knocked your child down, is improper and will likely cause the previously orphaned child's parents to come flying onto the scene.  Now, I didn't discover this first-hand.  I just observed. 

4.  Little boys like to kiss little girls on the playground.  This one was a shocker.  Claire was dismounting the slide when a little boy who was likely at least three times her age, planted a kiss right on her cheek.  If you are saying, "awwwww,"  don't.  I didn't like this one bit.  I try my hardest to keep Claire from touching other kids.  Keeping one's hands to one's self is an equally important life lesson.  Of course, my library mom friends get a good laugh when I yell, "don't touch that child, Claire."  She's like a bull in a china shop.  Anyway, back to the drive-by kissing.  First, this kid had so much snot on his face...I can't even think of an analogy for this one.  Second, where are your parents?  Third, just ew, and at least buy her a juice box.  Keep your germs and your lips to yourself.  Claire just looked stunned. 

5.  If you are looking to steal a child (which I am not advocating) the park is the place to do it.  There were so many nomadic children moving from structure to structure with no parent in sight, it was amazing.  I tried counting the parents sitting on benches and allocate at least a handful of kids to those adults but by my calculation every adult there must have been a Duggar because they all had at least 20 kids. 

6.  When you steal this child at the park, don't worry about the kid screaming and blowing your cover.  When we left the park Claire lost her mind.  She was tired, she was hungry, and she wanted to stay at the park and at least be tired, hungry, and sliding.  She screamed like a banshee.  She sounded like the peacock impression my sister does(if you've never had the pleasure, you're in for a real treat) but without the break.  It was amazing.  I thought for sure we'd draw at least a glare or two.  Not a single soul looked our way.  You might be asking yourself why this is a problem.  Well, if my child is screaming, I want at least one person to look me up and down and remember what I'm wearing, what my child is wearing, and what car I'm getting into.  Why?  Because if my child is being abducted, I want someone to notice.  Look, it might sound all worst-case-scenario, but I don't care.  I'd much rather someone annoy me a little by giving me a judgey look than no one notice the time that it's not me taking my kid from the park.  See, this is where park moms become quite handy.  They're always up in your business.  I think I just had one of those Oprah "Ah-ha" moments.

7.  If you are waiting your turn for the baby swings, don't just stand there and stare awkwardly until someone gets uncomfortable and leaves.  Seriously, this happened.  An addendum to this would be don't stand and stare and say to your toddler, "sorry, honey, we just have to wait until someone gets done."  That someone won't be me.  I waited 30 minutes for one of those swings to free up and now Zora is delighting herself by practicing running in mid-air.  So, lay off, lady.  No wonder these kids can't wait their turn.  Their parents, while they may not push you out of the way, will try to guilt-trip you out of the way.  Well, I've got news for them, my mother is a prize-winning guilt-tripper who was taught by the queen guilt-tripper, my granny.  Your comments have no effect on me.  Joke's on you.

8.  Don't play catch with a football in the middle of the play structure.  Especially if you suck at the catch part.  I think I was nearly taken out at least twice by these two little boys tossing around a full-sized football in the midst of the chaos.  Again, where are your parents?  I would never let Claire and Zora do something like that(especially since right now Claire and Zora playing catch would mostly be Zora getting hit in the face).  I'm pretty sure it's against playground rules, anyway.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a habitual (heavy on the bitch) rule follower.  It pains me to see others breaking such simple rules. 

All joking aside, what is wrong with people who take their kids to the park and then set them loose?  I'm not saying you have to chase after them, but shouldn't you at least keep an eye on them?  This isn't even appropriate at a dog park with four-legged children.  Why would it be appropriate with the two-legged ones?  Please, keep tabs on your kids.  I don't want them to push my kid down, but I really don't want them to be snatched.    

Even though going to park can be trying and tiring, it is a great distraction from the Great Distractor, TV(similar to the Great Oz, but with more people working things behind the curtain).  We hardly watched any TV this week because we had so many other things to do.  Yay!  I'll beat you, yet, TV.    

Monday, March 5, 2012

Vomit? No, no, that's not a good blog title

What does one write about when they've had a pretty boring week?  Vomit.

It's gross, it smells, it comes out of children at warp speed.

I know I mentioned last week that Claire was sick.  That doesn't really come close to describing what went on in this house for 24 hours.  There was puke, there was crying, there was dry-heaving. 

I must say that this is the first round of pukes we have had.  Claire has been pretty healthy for her first 2 years and aside from a few runny noses and a total of 3 fevers, this kid is the picture of health.  So you can imagine how blindsided I was by the remake of the Exorcist that was going on in my living room, bedroom, and bathroom. 

After six baths to wash bodies and hair, I was ready to throw in the towel.  Thank goodness she was feeling well enough to not heave all over the house on her birthday.  Although the illness wasn't done with her yet.  She spent most of her first full day as a 2 year old filling her diaper.  She was a Bear Care that day, though, so darn...I missed it.

Yeah, it's gross.  I'm grossed out just writing this.  Thankfully, last week I got to spend a much-needed evening out with some fellow mommies swilling wine and complaining about husbands, etc. 

What I discovered over the course of 4 hours and a shocking 2 glasses of wine (I usually only have 1) was that I am not the only crazy person.  In fact, other mothers are presently being driven crazy by their children.  I was surprised.  Why, you ask?  Because I always feel like I'm the only person who is learning this stuff as I go.  Other moms seem to be so put together.  I mean some of them even wear make-up and real pants out of the house (as opposed to yoga pants or pajama pants...don't worry, I'm not leaving the house pantsless).

Whilst swilling aforementioned wine, one mom made a great point that had never really occurred to me in all of my infinite 2 years of child-rearing wisdom.  She said that as adults, sometimes we have a bad day at work, etc, and we come home and complain to our spouse, friend, family member, whomever.  Our kids have bad days, too.  They have days when they're tired, feeling icky, feeling sad, or just feeling frustrated.  Our kids, unlike us, cannot vent to their chosen soundboard.  I don't know about you, but my toddler has never said, "Hey Mom, can you draw me a bubble bath and get me a nice ice-cold chocolate milk?  I had a rough day at school." 

If she did say that, I'd surely accommodate her because I would know what she was feeling.  Instead, I get ear-piercing screams, body-flinging fits, and big, real tears.  What do I do?  I get upset with her for having a meltdown and sometimes she even gets time out. 

Since we started using time out I have tried to not punish emotions because I want her to feel free to express any and all emotions so that we might work through them when she gets older.  Right now we're still working on things like keeping her fingers out of her nose.  Despite my best efforts, I know I have punished for emotions.

So, I have decided to institute a practice that my sister and her husband use.  They have a "crying chair."  Whenever their daughter is having a meltdown, she goes and sits in the crying chair until she is done crying and ready to talk about whatever made her melt.  She's 5, so self-reflection, while still a new concept, is not impossible.  It seems to work and at least they feel like they are doing something for her.

For the past week when Claire starts to do that scream/yodel/whale call thing that she does I ask her if she needs a minute to herself.  A few times she proceeded to melt in spite of my question.  But, a few times she went in her room and sat in the time out spot.  I didn't tell her to go, I didn't even mention time out.  A few minutes later, she emerged with a handful of books and a smile.

All of that being said, this isn't news to a lot of parents and I certainly don't think I've figured out some magic formula, or that my child is the picture of behavioral perfection.  I just wanted to share yet another week of my daily life.

Claire is now a famous Sprout TV Sproutlet...okay, maybe not...but her birthday card was shown on-air on her birthday and Kelly and Chica wished her a happy birthday.  She was thrilled.  There'll be no dealing with her now.  Oh well, I have to say that more exciting things happen everyday on Fireman Sam than have happened all season on The Walking Dead.  Sprout - 1, AMC - 0.