Yesterday was not going well.
Natalie was in a foul mood. Every few minutes she’d march up to me and scream, “Hurts! Hurts!” and point to her mouth. She has a tooth coming in and I imagine it DOES hurt but she wouldn’t let me help her.
I gave her a teething ring and she threw it down and stomped on it for good measure.
Fine. I get it. Teething rings are for babies.
So I wet a washcloth, stuck it in the freezer for a few minutes and gave it to her with instructions to chew it.
It was too cold.
She threw it across the room and hollered, “Don’t WANT!”
I tried baby Orajel but the taste insulted her. She hurled the tube in my direction and I ducked as it flew over my head.
“Hey, Naomi Campbell,” I called out to Natalie. “We don’t throw. I’m trying to HELP.” I stressed the word help and Natalie didn’t look impressed. She had her chin in the air and her arms folded across her chest. I wanted to jump up and down and scream, “What do you WANT from me?” but I composed myself and took some deep breaths.
“To make us feel better maybe we should go to the mall,” I suggested and Natalie practically dove out the front door.
“Shopping!” she screeched as she rushed to the car.
I wish. I would totally be shopping if I weren’t Cutting Back. That would make me feel better for sure.
“Actually,” I explained to Natalie as I strapped her into her car seat. “We’ll just be playing at the mall playground.”
Natalie seemed content with that.
When we got to the playground her teething woes seemed to be a thing of the past. I lowered myself onto the vinyl bench and watched as she went through a tunnel. I was thrilled that no one else was there and I had a few minutes to think so I sort of went off into a daze….
Then this woman sat down beside me. I was hoping that this woman was also eager to enjoy a few minutes of silence and that she’d keep her mouth shut and not ask me mundane questions and…
“How old is your daughter?” the woman asked.
I don’t mind conversing with strangers. I really don’t. But sometimes I feel the need to relish in the silence. Maybe it’s the Only Child in me. I don’t feel the need to fill every bit of quietness with sound.
Plus, I had had a rough morning. I had things thrown at me, I was shouted at and I’m pretty sure Natalie put some kind of curse on me because I had become extra Klutzy. I mean, I am a Klutz in general but that morning I was spilling things left and right---probably because I had a toddler screeching in my ear every few minutes. It’s sort of hard to drink a glass of water and NOT spill it down your front while a piercing banshee type noise suddenly fills the air.
Still, I couldn’t just ignore the woman. That would have been rude. For a brief second I debated pretending I didn’t speak English and saying something like, “Ne Spehken ze English.” But that’s not even a real language. And so, I smiled politely at her and said, “She’s two.” Then I felt like it was good manners to ask her about HER kid so I went, “How old is yours?” I wasn’t sure if she had a boy or a girl. I tried to catch a glimpse but her child dived behind a plastic tree. I would guess a girl because I thought I caught blond hair down the back but these days parents like to allow their boys to grow their hair long. Kate Hudson seems to be a fan of that.
“She just turned two last week,” the woman said cheerfully.
I nodded as though this were fascinating news.
Then I thought I could lapse back into silence. I needed to figure out what I was going to make for dinner and I needed to remember what all we had in the house. So I started to think about that.
We have meat…I could make meat loaf….but I am so not in the mood for meat loaf…I wish we could just go out but we can’t go out since I’m Cutting Back….I hate cooking….I wish I had a personal chef….I wish--
“So is she potty trained yet?” the woman spoke up, interrupting my thoughts.
“Not yet,” I said. And because the woman had an expectant for the love of God, ask me about MY KID look on her face I warily went, “How about your daughter?”
The woman practically fell off the bench, she was so excited. “Yes!” she gushed. “Since last week! One day Campbell decided she wanted to use the potty and she’s been using it ever since. For pee AND poops.”
I admit, I was a little impressed. I mean her kid had JUST turned two and was already potty trained? What was wrong with MY kid?
“So is your daughter working on potty training?” superior Mom wondered.
I immediately thought back to the night before when Natalie kicked her potty across the room because I dared to ask if she wanted to sit on it.
“No POTTY!” she had bellowed, her head thrown back dramatically. “NO POTTY!”
I flashed a smile at superior Mom and decided to lie. “We’re working on it. It’s going....splendidly.”
Then I tried to go back to quiet time and think about dinner.
So, I have meat and therefore I can make spaghetti. We have spaghetti every week but it’s one of the few things I can make without burning. Plus, both kids actually eat the spaghetti whereas they tend to pick at anything else I make….so spaghetti it will be. Do we have garlic bread? I know carbs are bad and blah blah blah but you can’t have spaghetti without garlic bread. It’s like a sin or--
“Do you know what time it is?” superior Mom asked.
I dug in my purse and pulled out my cell phone. I told her the time that was on the display and she nodded.
“We have about ten minutes then. Campbell has her French lessons.”
FRENCH lessons? How in the world did she expect a two-year-old to sit and have lessons? Of course, I have to remember that some people give birth to calm children. I give birth to kids who think sitting down is the worst thing ever and who have the motto, “Why sit when you can run?”
“Is someone in your family French?” I wondered. I figured I might as well give up on the silence. It just wasn’t going to happen.
The woman shook her head. “No. I just read that it’s important to introduce other languages while they’re young. It helps mold their minds or something like that.” She shrugged.
“How are the lessons going?” I continued. I was intrigued at this point. I just couldn’t fathom Natalie sitting long enough for the teacher to explain to her how to say hello and goodbye in French. I pictured Natalie taking the French book and throwing it at the teacher’s head and yelling, “ALL DONE FRENCHIE!”
The woman grinned. “Wonderfully. Campbell loves to learn.” She gestured to Natalie who was banging her head on the carpet. “So…is your daughter in any type of lessons? Ballet, soccer....”
If I put Natalie in soccer she’d just snatch up the ball and refuse to share.
“Er....not really. But she does speak some Chinese and Spanish,” I added because I felt like I should say that my daughter did something fascinating.
Plus, it is true. She knows how to say Ni-Hao in Chinese and Hola in Spanish thanks to Noggin. But the lady didn’t have to know this.
“Wow. That’s interesting,” the woman said, looking impressed. “So you teach her the languages yourself?”
I was at a loss. I didn’t know what to say. Do I admit that the television actually teaches her the languages?
Natalie ended up saving me. She ran up and told me seriously, “I poops.” For some reason when she said this I suddenly had it in my head to shout out, “Look at this! Natalie is saying ipoops which is Danish for hello. Did I mention that she could also speak Danish?” (Actually, the Danish word for hello is hej but surely the woman wouldn’t know that.) The weirdest things pop in my head sometimes. Sometimes I think something is surely wrong with me.
“I POOPS!” Natalie said again and gave me an irritated look. She was probably wondering why I wasn’t leaping to my feet to clean her up.
Superior Mom looked thrilled over this whole ordeal. I thought she might even clap her hands in delight. “Oh! She’s telling you she has to poop! Hurry up and get her to the potty, Mom, so she can go!”
What I didn’t tell her is that Natalie had already crapped her diaper and was just telling me to clean her up before she stuck her hands down her pants and tried to do it herself.
“You have a great day!” I told the woman and grabbed a hold of Natalie’s hand. I slung my diaper bag and purse over my shoulder and we headed for the playground exit.
“Hasta la vista!” the woman called out and Natalie gave her a startled look. I thought the lady had lost her ever loving mind at first—I mean after all, she DID name her daughter after soup—but then I realized that hasta la vista was the Spanish words for see you later and I had told her that Natalie spoke some Spanish. So I forced a smile on my face and told Natalie to say “Hasta la vista!” back and Natalie looked at me as though I had sprouted a breast on my head so I just waved enthusiastically for the both of us.
I pulled a confused Natalie towards the bathroom and changed her. When we were washing our hands I said, “Natalie. Am I stunting your growth? Am I ruining your brain? You don’t need French lessons, do you?”
Her response was to stick her head under the running water of the sink.
Hrm. I’ll take that as a no.