It was almost the perfect storm of sorts. And I blame myself. What was I thinking dragging my two year old to Walmart right before his nap? And I haven’t been feeling so great recently, so I made this outing tired and my guard was down. To top it off, my usual barter snacks and water cup weren’t packed. But I just needed a few things. I wouldn’t be long. A half hour. Tops.
Well. I don’t know what started it all. Something set him off. I think he wanted to go down one aisle when I had decided to go another way.
(Silly me – I still had it in my head that this would be a quick trip.)
So it was one of those moments. Do I cave? Do I do what he wants so he doesn’t spin out and explode into million pieces right here? Do I dig in and refuse to let him get his way?
Well, I let him have this one. I let him go down the aisle he wanted to. But it was too late. He was mad by then. And starting to stomp a bit. Not good. The downward spiral into tantrum hell had begun.
Let me stop for a minute here. It doesn’t matter what kind of song and dance I do sometimes. If my kid is going to go ape-shit, he’s going to go ape-shit. Its like stopping a full alert, gale force wind hurricane. You can’t convince it not to blow, no matter how hard you try.
And that’s about when the strawberry incident happened. HE wanted to put them in the cart. Ok. We can do that. Unfortunately, he picked the nastiest package of strawberries there. Usually I am sneaky and let him put them in and – if it is not a “choice” grocery pick – I switch them out when he’s not looking. But he decided to willfully toss the strawberries into the cart. And so, the plastic container popped open and strawberries rolled out all over the groceries.
You have got to be kidding me.
So, on the verge of losing my temper, I cleaned them up and swapped them out quickly and quietly. However. I was not undercover about any of it. Could you blame me? I just wanted this trip to the store over with already…
That’s when the storm hit and my two year old simply blew. Like his personal tip of the hat to the start of hurricane season, my son’s gusty breezes cranked into screaming gale force winds with booming thunder and crashing lightening – you know, its the kind of two year old weather that snaps tress and crushes small homes. It was on like Donkey Kong.
In a full red faced, squealing rage, he tossed strawberries and rattled the cart. He grabbed at our groceries and managed to whip a frozen pizza across the floor. That’s when he turned to the produce stands. While hefting a mango and winding it back with every intention of hurling it, I tackled him.
Kicking, screaming, thrashing and frothing at the mouth, I wrestled him into my arms and scrambled over to the closest corner I could find. It happened to be the frozen shrimp section next to the bakery. There was a corner there, and it was out of the way.
It was time to do what I was supposed to do in situations such as this one: we were going to have a time out.
So, channeling every bit of Jo Frost I could, I firmly declared he was going to stay in this corner for throwing things and losing his temper. We would stay there until he was calm and ready to apologize. My arms were crossed. It was my turn to dig in.
(Come on Jo, please be right about this, I am doing exactly what you would do on the show. I know this is the right thing to do. I know it is.)
He made a break for it. Madly flailing his arms and screaming towards the stand of freshly made cupcakes.
Aw hell no.
I raced after him and got him. I dragged him back to the shrimp section. I put him down firmly. And gently (well, I am pretty sure I was gentle about it…) pinned him there against the refrigerator. He would stay here with me until he was calm. While one leg gently pinned him into place, I stood up, turned my back to him and waited.
That’s when I looked around me. Mothers, Walmart staff, so many people were watching us. Blatantly. Just staring.
What? Was I doing something wrong?
He kept on screaming, he kept on thrashing.
My pinned leg was starting to loose its grip. Plus I didn’t want to stare back at these faces – watching, wondering and judging.
So I turned around, kneeled down and put both arms on the freezer, locking him into a little mommy jail. “Hon, if you calm down and say sorry for throwing, we can be all done. Do you want to help mommy find some yogurt?”
“Show me you can be a big boy and calm down. I need to you to say sorry for throwing. Then you can be my big helper. Show me a good job.”
“Excuse me miss?”
I turned around. An older lady was standing there. She had a bag of crackers opened in her cart and was munching away on them – like popcorn in a movie theater. Clearly, I was putting on a good show.
“I just want to say that you are a good mom. MOST MOMS would be really embarrassed to do a time out RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF WALMART. With EVERYONE watching. But I think its great you’re doing it. He has to learn. You’re doing a good job, mom. Really.”
By then she had wheeled away. By then I was ready to cry.
So I looked past my child (turned rabid, mad dog) and stared into the freezer behind him. Shrimp for $3.00? That seems too cheap. I wonder if its even real shrimp. But what would you make imitation shrimp out of? …Ew.
I turned. This time it was someone from the bakery.
“I just wanted to say that I really feel for you.” She turned to the rabid dog. ” Hi hon! Look what I have!”
She extended her plastic gloved hand. There was a small ring. You know, the kind that goes on top of cupcakes. It was a “Wonder Pets” ring.
He reeled and screamed with rage and lunged to hit it out of her hands. She jumped back a bit.
“Oh. Well. When he’s ready, maybe he’d like this…”
“Thanks.” I threw the ring into the cart. And turned back to my child. No. The storm was not abating. At all. He was maintaining a level of “100% bat-shit”. I glanced over to a woman getting some shrimp out of the case next to me. And there was no denying it. I saw zero sympathy in her eyes. I saw disgust.
(What? Because a two year old was having a tantrum? Because he had been thrashing about on the Walmart floor? I know thats gross but… does this woman even know what children are capable of??)
That’s it. I stood up. I grabbed his hand and my bag and stormed out. Nothing was getting accomplished in the shrimp freezer section. I marched outside and looked for a shady spot to sit. I found a curb around a tree to sit on. Right next to the Walmart staff smoking section. Beggars were hardly choosers in that moment.
So we sat. And he screamed. I considered bailing on the entire trip. But I really needed bread and yogurt and milk and it took enough energy to even get here in the first place. No. We weren’t leaving without what I came here for.
And then. I heard the crying slow. He was watching them push the carts into the store.
“Like a choo-choo train” I heard him hiccup through sobs. He slowed some more. He watched. Finally I turned to him.
“Baby. Come here.” He stood up and looked at me.
“Why are you in a time out?”
Shuddering sigh. “Thwowing.”
“Right for throwing groceries. What do you say to me?”
“Sowwee for thwowing gwoah-swees.”
And that was that. He wiped his eyes and started babbling at me about the shopping cart choo choo train. He gladly held my hand and walked back into Walmart with me. He sat in amongst the strawberries and frozen pizza and yogurt chatting about his “Wonder Pets” plastic ring. He was a dream the rest of the trip.
An hour and a half after we left our home, we were back. And I survived another trip to walmart with a two year old.
Because that’s all it is. Just another typical day. There are no awards for managing tantrums like those. This is nothing all that special. No one (except for everyone in Walmart) was even there to witness it. (Like a tree falling in the woods, if no one heard it, did it make any noise?) Hopefully some small part of that experience is retained in his mind. He did actually do what he needed to do. But other than managing his behavior, it doesn’t honestly mean that much.
This is what parenting is about. This stuff happens. And its really hard. But we deal, we move on and we wait for the next round. On and on it goes.
But maybe next time, I will make that “quick” trip to Walmart after naptime.
I suppose my friend and I should have known the beach was going to be crowded yesterday. Spring Break. In Florida. I mean, c’mon. A crowded beach is a given. We arrived with our kids – four of them – and pushed through the crowds with our chairs and bags and stuff that seemed not to be all that much back home. After corralling and coaxing kids to keep up, we finally found a spot and settled in. Wall to wall bodies or not, the beach is always a welcome day of activity for our kids.
So we set up our chairs, slathered SPF on our kids, nervously trained our eagle eyes on all four children and sat back, watching, biting into our homemade sandwiches. Ok. Ah. Spring break.
Would the couple RIGHT in front of me blocking one of my children please move, for crying out loud? Wow, its crowded. Well. Ok. I see him. Pass the cheetoes.
And it was about then when I heard that certain tone in a mother’s voice somewhere behind me. I know that sound: panic. I caught sight of a mom near us, wide-eyed, pacing in circles. And then she moved down to the water.
“Where is she?!?!? ELLLA!!!!! Where is SHE??? ELLLLLLAAAAA!!!! OH MY GOD WHAT IF SHES OUT THERE SOMEWHERE?!?!?!!!” And she pointed out to the water.
By this point other mothers, friends, people were surrounding her, touching her elbow, reaching out, eyes searching too, questioning, holding their breaths, just as panicked.
“What was she wearing?”
“How old is she?”
“What color hair?”
My friend and I leapt up. She called the boys in from the water and kept them at our seats. I started moving down the beach.
“A four year old girl is missing. Blond hair. Purple shorts. Floral top. Four year old girl. Blond hair. Purple shorts. Floral top. Four year old girl. Blond hair. Purple shorts. Floral top.”
More parents leapt up. More people yelling her description. Children were gathered close. All eyes were searching.
And Ella’s mother behind me. I could hear her panic. Her voice. She was screaming her name. My heart pulled tight.
“Four year old girl. Blond hair. Purple shorts. Floral top.”
Ella’s mom tore past me, she was crying now, searching searching searching down the beach.
“WHERE IS SHE?????? ELLLLLLAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!”
I couldn’t help but stop and turn around. I looked out into the water. Lots of people. Did I see blond hair, purple shorts and a floral top? What was that!?!? No. Birds.
I moved back to our spot on the beach. My friend and I looked at each other.
“So am I.”
The kids were confused.
“Why can’t we go swimming?”
“Stay RIGHT HERE.”
It could have been one of ours. Ella’s mother could have been either of us. Just like that. In one impossibly fast moment. A child could be gone.
So we stood there. We couldn’t SIT. A little girl was missing. I’m not sure how long we stood there. It reminded me of Zebras I used to watch in Africa. During danger, they gather their young and surround them, pointing their rumps to them, facing out, stopped, searching, ready for anything. And that’s what we did. She looked one way and I another, with all four children sitting at our ankles.
“…..they found her!”
Someone yelled in the distance that they found her.
“That’s what I heard. Someone just yelled it down the beach.”
“Did they find her?”
“That’s what I just heard.”
And then, in the distance, I saw Ella’s mother. In her arms, wrapped around her body, was a little girl with blond hair, purple shorts and a floral shirt. Ella’s face was buried in her mother’s neck. Her mother had her hand on the back of her little girl’s head – pressing Ella to her – and was walking slowly back down the beach. Sobbing. Smiling. Nodding to people she passed.
“Yes. I got her. Thank you. Yes, I am very relieved.” Shuddering, crying, laughing.
When she got to us, I fought back tears. Along with all the mothers around us, we stepped forward to reach out again.
“Ella, are you ok?”
She lifted her face from her mother’s neck, her big wet blue eyes stared back. She nodded. She held tightly on to her mother.
Oh thank God. She was ok. Oh thank God.
My friend and I started breathing again. We laughed nervously. Regrouped a bit. We herded the kids back down to the water, gave them back their shovels and sat gratefully back into our seats. Eyes locked on all four heads.
“So am I. Holy crap.”
“Where are those Cheetoes.”
Children go missing on beaches all the time. I am not sure what it was about this moment that struck a chord so deeply. Well, maybe I do. I couldn’t help but think of Maddie for some reason. Not another little girl. Gone. Just like that. I couldn’t help but put myself in that mother’s position, like I have with Heather. But like the events after Maddie’s passing, I was amazed to watch mothers in action. Those moms dropped everything to get the word out Ella was gone. They searched, they comforted, they worried. Yesterday and since Maddie has passed, my heart has been so touched to watch the incredible act of mothers taking care of other mothers. It is a powerful and stunning example of beauty, kindness, empathy and love.
So once again, I know to bring my boys closer and appreciate their craziness and all that comes with it. All is well in our life. We are fine. No zebra circling today. And since all is well with our lives, we can look out for and reach out to other mothers who need our support right now.
Heather Spohr’s family must raise $7,000 for her daughter Maddie’s funeral. Donations may be sent to a paypal account in her name at: firstname.lastname@example.org . Services will be held for Maddie on Tuesday, April 14th at 2:30pm at Old North Church, Forest Lawn, in Hollywood Hills. All are welcome to attend. Please wear purple in her honor. Also, a website with links and information about Maddie have been set up here.
Sometimes I start into my day only to realize the world is out to get me. Before the sun has even begun to peak through the trees beyond our back ponds, I have got it alllll figured out – the universe has my backside in its cross hairs.
Oh, you think I’m over reacting? I’m not. This is real. This is war and apparently I am decidedly the axis of evil. Stay on my side, ok? Don’t turn against me too. We need to round up our forces. Let me repeat myself. The world is out to get me. Help.
Here’s what happens. When I wake up on those mornings, right away I know. Something isn’t quite right. As soon as they run out to the living room, my pajama clad children have upped their whines to decibels which call dogs for miles. I know their shtick. They probably have it all planned (you know, who would nag me about what and for how long) way before I get them out of bed. Oh and one of my boys has coincidentally sprouted a cold- green boogers flowing forth, awaiting my tissue. What – did he spend the entire day before licking shopping cart handles in preparation?
And then I arrive in the kitchen and the dishes are certainly dirtier than they were when I went to bed. What? Was my husband up late night dirtying extra plates just for fun? And no PRE-RINSE!?!?!!!!! No pre-rinse??? So now its all crusted FOREVER!!!!!! I’m speechless.
And what was that? The garbage men have come and gone a full hour before they normally do? Oh, right. Bloody typical. And then, while I try and make a hasty one slipper on, one slipper off mad dash out to the corner with the trash anyway, the whole thing dumps over. Someone over filled it, someone broke its wheel, someone wants to make me miserable.
Don’t you SEE whats going on here?
I know then and there, while my children pretend not to scheme behind my back over their bowls of cereal, its time to get my game face on. Oh yeah. I wasn’t born yesterday. I know when someone has pasted a “drive me frickin’ nuts today” sign on my back. I can hear the snickering from my children, my husband, the trash men. I know their game.
And then my husband emerges and my anger turns inward. He hasn’t even made eye contact. He hasn’t even said good morning. He hardly knows I exist.
I look like shit, don’t I?
That’s right. My husband doesn’t even think his own wife is attractive. What should I expect. Not like I even have time to look nice EVER. Not like we ever GO on any DATES or anything so why should I bother, right? I’m going to be 36 this year. I am merely the dried up, raisin husk of the woman he married 9 years go.
“Good morning.” He says. Pffft. If you say so. Don’t toy with me. There will be no response back, thank you very much.
Shoes are lost. Uniform shirts aren’t clean. SOMEONE forgot to tell me the yogurt drinks for packed lunches are out (what am I, a mind reader). The cat is clawing the priceless Afghan carpet (that my father brought home from Kabul, hand woven by a woman with nothing and here my cat CLAWS at it?!?!). And I am pretty sure it’s going to be overcast and cool today. (Hello? It’s Florida!? We don’t DO imperfect weather.)
And my husband thinks I am unattractive. I don’t get on the Wii Fit enough. I keep eating those damn Hershey’s kisses. What is it with the chocolate lately? And I am quite sure it was planted in my house to make me fat anyway.
Fine so then my husband and son leave for the day. Fine. Just leave me here. Alone with my tantruming two year old where we will be stuck in “same shit, different groundhog day” hell. In 10 minutes I am going to get hassled for a snack and “not that one, not that one either, NOOOOO not THAT one NOOOOOO!!!!!” In an hour I am going to be picking up what didn’t get in a potty. Awesome. And in 5 hours and 23 minutes, I will spend 56 minutes battling said child, wooing him to nap while he refuses to and immediately loses his mind because in actuality he needs that frickin nap like I need my sanity. Like I need those bloody Hershey’s kisses. (Guess whats for lunch.) So good-bye husband. Dessert me again. Go enjoy adults and conversation and quiet trips to the bathroom BY YOURSELF.
Oh and I need to write. That’s right. I need to find inspiration and get about five posts written. Because I need to bust my ass for a job that pays me chump change on a GOOD day. Right. So lets figure out what I’m going to write. Ok. While I sit here alone on groundhog day and get repeatedly whacked by a light saber. Sure. There are so many interesting things to write about that inspire me daily. WHACK. Yes, so many new and fascinating things which happen in my very own house that I must write them ALL down. WHACK. I am simply brimming with inspiration. WHACK WHACK.
So finally, I give up. A shower is my only hope. A shower always helps. Assuming there is still hot water. Assuming the soap isn’t all out leaving me with an empty container in its place or my two year old doesn’t decide to pull the entire entertainment system down on top of himself right when I turn on the water because that could very well happen – he’s plotting it all right now I tell you, cackling evilly to himself.
So, however resigned, I wander into the bathroom. And there I see it. A blue plastic case, popped open and… empty but for the last week of placebo pills.
Do you know that feeling when you watch reality shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” and you see amazing things happen for people and you say out loud “that sort of stuff never happens to me”? Or how about the reality show ”What Not to Wear”. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wear really nice clothes instead of jelly smeared jeans? I know these sorts of shows well. I watch, I smile and I think “not in a million years”.
Well, during my time in NYC, I kind of had an “Extreme Home Makeover / What Not to wear” moment. A real one. I think it would have made a great reality show actually. And it all has to do with Vivienne Tam.
As you know by now, I spent 4 amazing days in New York City for fashion week thanks to the folks at Buzz Corps, HP and Vivienne Tam. The entire experience in itself was “reality show” worthy in that this sort of stuff *SO* does not happen to me. I spent every day thanking everyone around me. I thanked drivers (oh wait I hugged him too), door holders, hotel folks, waiters, even random people I passed on the streets for slightly stepping out of my way. I was so damn grateful to be there. Every crack and crevice I happened upon heard my gratitude, loud and clear.
But then something even more amazing happened to all the bloggers on this trip. “What? MORE?!” I hear you mumble. Yes, more. We were given a gift.
We started out mid morning in our shuttle not exactly knowing where we were headed. When we pulled up to Vivienne Tam’s boutique, it was familiar to us after having been there the night before for her show. So we stepped out of the bus and walked in, curious. The entire space had changed into a “store” with racks of her dresses lined up, mannequins dressed, shoes and bags on display. We all wandered around, happy to see the goods in daylight for better pictures and also excited to see more of her line. We snapped pics, picked out favorites, held them up to each other, laughed at the possibilities and moved along.
And then Alan Wang, the Vivienne Tam boutique manager and all around very nice man, got our attention. He stood at the front of the store and thanked us for being here this week. He told us how much Vivienne Tam truly appreciates our support and that she recognizes the important work we do. And as a symbol of her gratitude, she would like to give us a gift. Each of us were welcome to pick out one dress. To keep.
Blank stares. It dawns on us. Mouths drop. Rushed whispering. Quiet squeals. And then me, “Can I hug you right now?”
I am not sure what he said next (although I remember that he diplomatically ignored my invitation for a hug, smart man), but it had begun to sink in. Kind of. We could pick a dress in that room to take home. To wear. To have. To feel fabulous in.
And we were off. Some spending time carefully considering. Others leaping on the handbags and shoes (understandably). And then there was me who grabbed one dress and dashed for the dressing room. What if they changed their minds? Quick. Let me get this on and out the door before they decide this isn’t such a great idea.
I wound up with the second dress I tried on. I truly felt amazing in it. I ran around the store in it. I teared up. Three times. Shamelessly. My friend Moosh in Indy saw my Hanes her Way and that’s cool by me. This was serious business. I got an amazing dress. A Vivienne Tam dress. Glamorous pieces of clothing like this just don’t exist in my life. But now one does. (And it is laughing at everything else in my closet as I write this.)
So what happened next? Just wait. Yes, there’s more.
That night we were welcome to attend another event back at the Vivienne Tam boutique. This was the official launch of the Vivienne Tam Hp Mini. Another night on the town? What better excuse to don our fab dresses. And that we did.
I also brought my VT HP Mini with me. I just figured it would be good to have it since that evening was all about it.
And so what happens? Vivienne Tam arrives, speaks to her guests and then offers to sign anyone’s computers. So now, under my right hand in the bottom corner of my Mini, is Vivienne Tam’s signature. She signed it for me and you know what she said to me? She said I was so beautiful in her dress.
Wow. This mom with jelly smeared jeans and a leaking sippy cup in her purse could be beautiful.
It was a moment. To be sure.
And that’s what the dress and the computer have come to represent. Women running around managing the insanity of their lives, elbow deep in dirty boy socks and sticky pots of mac and cheese DO deserve nice things. A dress like this, a computer like this – well, they are simply special things. Little bits of fabulous that remind you that you are actually “worthy” – socks and mac n cheese aside.
So I had that “What not to Wear” moment. And staying true to the thanking theme of my week, I thanked Vivienne Tam that night. I thanked her for making me feel more beautiful and special than I had in years.
My gratitude is endless, my heart is full and my sense of beautiful is in check.
For that (just one more time) I say: Thank you.
For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.
This morning, my 5 year old came running in to tell me there were lots and lots and LOTS of birds in our backyard. “Uh huh, that’s nice dear.” “No, Mommy, LOTS. Come see.” And I did. And so did my husband with my 2 year old toddling behind us.
There were, in fact, many birds in our backyard. Hundreds potentially. A flock like I had never seen were swooping and swirling and flying just above our heads. And then landing in one bush, weighing it down. And then off they went again. It was close to magical.
I grabbed my video camera and threw this little montage of the scene together. It certainly doesn’t capture the feeling or size of this flock flying all about us. But blog-worthy still. My backyard strikes again.
By the way, I used my Muvee Reveal software for this. It took 5 minutes to put together. The software edits the footage to work right along with the song. Pretty cool, huh?
Last night curled under a blanket, my husband and I sat and watched the stunning footage of flight 1549 bob in the Hudson. While watching smiling passengers step off the ferries that rescued each and every one of them, my husband said something to me.
“Its a strange karma, symbolic thing, don’t you think?”
“How do you mean?”
“In Bush’s first year as President, we witnessed the worst plane catastrophe in history. And now… we are witnessing the most miraculous plane catastrophe in history, happening only hours before Bush says his final farewells to the public.”
I looked at him. “Wow. You’re right.” He absolutely had a point.
I don’t cry at the drop of a hat usually but everytime I see yesterday’s plane footage, I feel tears threaten. And I know that this entire country has been awed by this miracle, we are all equally emotional. But it seems to represent some level of hope for me also. It seems as if a message is being sent. It seems the impossible can happen. We can survive this mess.
And as for Bush’s farewell, seeing him go is simply anti-climactic. I thought I would cheer the day. I thought I would be over the moon. But I’m not. I am left puzzeled by his rationalizing, heroic “I made the tough choices, even if they weren’t the popular choices” sense of self. Honestly, he seems sadly delusional. If he really believes he did right by us, well, there is nothing left to say. Except, “Goodbye”.
Tuesday will represent the beginning of a new era for this country. But do I expect Obama to stand in front of the nation, tap his magic wand on day one and make everything all better? Hell no. I am worried for him. Really worried. And I am concerned about all the hope we have inside us. I know that he is an amazing leader, but this situation our country finds itself in could be an impossibility for any leader.
And yet, yesterday, everyone got out of that plane. Everyone, including one infant, is alive today. The impossible happened.
So this morning, I am taking a deep breath, I am watching out the window of my television as our nation dips and bobs over its troubles. I am holding my family close. And I will brace myself. But flight 1549 has inspired me. Just as our President elect has. It seems the impossible can happen and perhaps there will be a way out. So here I sit, clinging desperately onto a concept which has kept this country afloat before. That perplexing and amazing concept called: hope.
“Sit down in my thinking chair and think. Think. Thiiink.” – Blues Clues
Do you ever have one of those moments? Those moments that make you stop and think hard, and you keep thinking about that moment long long after it has past? I have had three of those moments this weekend. I thought I would share.
At Target, I ran into a couple moms I know. I know them through my children. We are not particularly close but it’s always good to see these moms, say hello, chat a bit. And so that’s what we were doing. We had not seen each other much over the summer, our kids were in school, starting playgroups, bladdy bladdy blah… there was lots to catch up on.
I am not sure what we were talking about but suddenly, one mother lowered her voice to a whisper and said something like “that’s what a black person would do.” Before I could even think at all, I said “Well, gotta get going, I’ll see you ladies later!” And turned and left. Just like that. It was a gut thing. I just reacted. I didn’t like what I heard, I was offended, and I bolted.
I will admit right here, that has not always been my reaction either. In the past, I have ignored statements like this but carried on the conversation like nothing happened. Or changed the subject. Or tried to find an out for my friend - surely they didn’t mean it the way it sounded - and have allowed them to use the famous disclaimer “not that I am racist or anything”. I have never been proud of myself in retrospect - where I try to smooth over and actually normalize the moment. I may as well have said it myself.
This time I couldn’t ignore it. But I didn’t say anything either. I didn’t say ” I found that remark offensive.” I just bolted. I guess the message may have come across that I didn’t like what she said. Or it could have come across that I just had to go. I dunno. I am not sure how I feel about my reaction and I can’t stop thinking back about it.
We went to Busch Gardens this weekend. We have “fun passes” and go fairly often. Theme parks are to Florida what the Smithsonian is to Washington D.C. We take for granted what people travel for miles with families to see and do.
Anyway, my 5 yo son T. and I were in line for the Flume. You know which ride this is - the log ride – with the big drop at the end where we get all wet. T. is dying to be old enough for roller coasters and this was his first time on a ride with a big drop. So we were really excited – giggling and chatting, we were all wound up about it.
As we were only a few people away from jumping onto our own log, I heard a violent thump from behind me. I turned and saw a woman, slumped back in her husbands arms, eyes rolled up in her head, and an enormous gash – maybe 6 inches across – on her forehead. She had fainted and hit her head on the stairs. Blood was everywhere. We yelled for help, the Busch Gardens attendants were unsure - radioing managers, grabbing paper towels, running, whispering, clueless. I saw the hands of the girl with the paper towels, she was shaking.
Since we were ahead of the woman who fainted, they ushered us onto the flume and off we went. My heart in my stomach: for T. who had never done this before and for this woman, and all the blood, and the moment she was in.
After an exhilarating splashdown, squeals of delight and “let’s do it agains” from T., we pulled back around to get off our ride. I then heard the announcement that the Flume would be closed due to “technical difficulties”. I stepped off and carefully helped T. off too.
And thats when I saw the two boys. They were maybe four and seven. They were huddled together on the stairs, quite a few feet away from the woman lying on the ground. Obviously, they were her sons. They were crying quietly, the older boy had his arms around the younger boy; now and then he would pat his cheek or rock him gently. Like Hansel and Gretel, holding onto to one another, in utter shock, their world had just turned upside down.
I looked to see who was helping them. No one. Their father was too consumed with helping his wife and talking to the paramedics arriving on the scene.
And we were being pushed along and asked to exit on the right.
But those boys. There was a large fence separating where T. and I were and those boys. If only I could have stopped and stayed with those boys. If only I could have offered them some comfort. They were alone, they were too young to know it was going to be ok, they were utterly distraught, they had seen their mommy fall, they saw so much blood. All I can think now is how they will remember that horrible moment for the rest of their lives. Their mother was fine, all would be well, children have seen worse, but my heart broke for those boys in that moment.
I was in Wal-Mart this morning. (OK, ok, I know. I hear your booing. I’ve already said my piece on that place before. With our meager, pathetic, shoe-string budget, it is what it is.) I can’t believe it’s September already, and naturally, my mind is starting to gear up for the holidays. So we were wandering the aisles in the toy section. C. was starting to feel impatient for lunch and I knew my time was running out.
Suddenly C. said “Oooooh, Mama. Baby. Toe TOOT!” (Translation: Oh, mommy, that baby is so cute!) He saw a doll haphazardly left behind on the wrong shelf. C. adores babies. He can hardly keep his hands off any of my friend’s babies. They light up his world, I mean it.
Well, a lightbulb went off in my head. How can it be this child does not have a doll when he loves babies this much?
So off I wheeled in search of a cheap, small baby doll for C. Where could they be?
Oh. Right. The “pink” section.
I have two boys. I don’t get to the pink section often. And I gather all dolls are in the pink section, the girl section. So, into the pink I wheeled. And bingo. There, between the hideous Hannah Montana dress up crap and the Bratz dolls (What the HELL are they about! Ah!), there was a small section of dolls. He played with a few. We picked one out. It has a little hat and a pacifier as accessories. And as excited as he was, he shocked me by being so gentle with that doll. Carefully cradling it, jibber jabbering little comments to the doll, giving it the pacifier, hugging it, patting its head. He played with it all the way to the register, had the doll sitting next to him in his car seat home, on the floor next to him during lunch and, currently, the doll is tucked in T.’s bed across the room from C. as he takes his nap.
So I am glad we found that doll. It’s perfect.
But I couldn’t help but mutter how crazy it is that the only dolls to be found were in the PINK section.
WHAT. BOYS can’t EVER have a doll?
WHAT. BOYS aren’t ever NURTURING?
WHAT shouldn’t I be encouraging my boy to nurture small babies, to be a good parent some day, for crying out loud!?
Cleary, dolls are for girls. Found only in the PINK section. UGH. GAG.
I should probably mention one thing, however. You know, that the baby we got? He’s dressed in blue. I assume he is a boy doll. And who picked that color out? I did. What was my point? Did I think that having him play with a boy doll, assuming he is a boy because he is in blue, makes boys playing with dolls THAT much more ok? Like “It’s ok, its a DUDE doll.” The blue doll assures that C.’s masculinity is still intact?
So whats that say about me?
Clearly, this Monday, I am lost in my own thoughts. And once again, obviously thinking way too hard about stuff going on around me. But I am guessing these kinds of moments will happen again. And what better home for them but here.
I hope you have a wonderful and less “over thought” start to your week.