M. Giant's
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Sunday, April 30, 2006  

Cabin Fever

Last weekend, CorpKitten was in town. The weather was beautiful the whole time. On Saturday, she hung out with M. Small outside while Trash and I did some overdue yard work. Then on Sunday we ate at the Uptown (outside), tried to go to the zoo (too late), then to the other zoo (too crowded), picked up a treat at Dairy Queen (slow as hell), ended up at a park by the University (a lot like the park by our house), and then went to Q. Cumber's , and so on.

The weekend before that, we were in Iowa, visiting Trash's mom for Easter. She helped us look after him, including going with us to the park a couple of blocks from her house. Trash and I even went out on a little date Saturday night. After M. Small went to bed, we headed out to the olde tyme drive-in ice cream shoppe a few blocks away. Sadly, we didn't get very far, because in the dark and the rain, Trash stepped off her mom's new patio wrong and did something to her ankle. Any ice after that point was pressed against her leg. The good news is that she might not have to have surgery.

The weekend before that, I was in Vegas with the folks from Television Without Pity. Trash had to cancel at the eleventh hour, due to a dental emergency. M. Small stayed at my mom's for Friday night, then came home on Saturday. I was home by Sunday afternoon, but it was still far from a full weekend.

And the weekend before that, Trash and I went to Mexico. M. Small stayed here in Minnesota, which, given what I discovered about the quality of Mexican sunscreen, is probably a good thing.

This weekend, we had no plans whatsoever. Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to see. For the first time since March, it was just us family, here at home. And it was weird.

We would have liked to try for the zoo again, but it rained all weekend. Walking and the park were similarly out of the question. But now that it's no longer the dead of winter, M. Small gets a little stir crazy when he doesn't get to leave the house all day. I'd put on my shoes to take out the garbage and I'd hear this insistent chattering of "Car! Car go bye! Bye bye car!" coming from about knee level.

So I took him to the mall.

Not the closest mall to our house, and not the biggest one, either. There's one in a southwestern suburb that has a play area for little kids right outside the Kohl's. We only happened to know about it because it's right near where he got his first haircut back in December. So after his dinner, I loaded him up in the car and off we went.

I needed new tennis shoes anyway, as I could tell from the fact that just walking across the wet driveway had saturated my left sock like a sponge. Once M. Small and I got to the mall, I quickly acquired new footwear and found my mood instantly improved. After one more stop to pick up an early Mother's Day gift for Trash, it was off to the play area.

M. Small was less than fourteen months old the last time he was there. It was a bit much for him then. Now, at 18½ months, it's a little more his speed, although I still have to stay close. That's on a normal day. But this was a rainy day, with any number of other parents having brought their kids there from lack of other options. In other words, it was busy enough that I wasn't sure we should stay. I decided to leave it up to him. I took our shoes off, brought him into the walled-off play area, and put him down next to a canoe. He jumped up and down, screaming with laughter at all the excitement and noise and kids around him (many of whom were younger than he), then ran off to climb on stuff, with me following close behind.

With all those kids around, I really noticed for the first time how tall he is for his age. You can take him to the doctor and hear "ninetieth percentile for height," but bringing him to a public place and seeing him tower over two-year-olds is another thing entirely.

The other thing I noticed is that M. Small doesn't really have a complete grasp on the concepts of speed and trajectory yet, which meant that I had to stay close to snatch him out of the way of other kids hurtling by once or twice. On one occasion, I was on the phone with his mom when a six-year-old in a red sweatsuit clipped my kid at top speed, bowling him over. Now, I'm relatively new at this public-play-parenting thing, but I know I was within my rights to holler at the kid to slow down. I was still holding M. Small and calming him down less than a minute later when the same kid ran by again in the opposite direction, having completely failed to slow down. I'm pretty sure I still would have been within my rights had I stuck out a toe and sent the little fucker into a thirty-mile-an-hour faceplant, but I wasn't quite in range. M. Small quickly recovered from his little trauma and nonverbally asked to be put back into the mix. I kept one eye on him and one eye on Red Sweatsuit Kid for the next minute or so to see if I could figure out who his mom was. But then I quickly figured out that his mom was the pissed-off lady who caught him and dragged him out of there, haranguing the whole time. And if it wasn't his mom, hey, not my problem. Maybe when he's being sold into white slavery he'll think to himself, "If only I'd slowed down at the mall play area."

It's not like I expect the world to leave a bubble around my child, in which he can do whatever he wants. I stopped him from trying to climb up the slides, and made sure he didn't hog the little jet-ski he liked sitting on. And when he's six years old, I'm going to make sure he doesn't run around a crowded space filled with toddlers at full speed. Much like his mom did.

But a red sweatsuit? In public? Forget about it.

posted by M. Giant 8:52 PM 2 comments

2 Comments:

Hey, we had our first do-nothing weekend in ages, too, and it was disconcerting. Sam gets squirrelly when he's indoors for too long, too.

I hear you on the relative tallness thing and the impatience with out-of-control kids issue. Sam's in the 90th percentile, as well, which means that older kids don't always realize that he's barely bipedal and easily toppled. I can accept a few accidental incidental spills -- hey, these things happen, and Sam's a good sport about it -- but when the same kid is the instigator over and over, it makes me want to mosey over to the attending parent(s) and knock THEM on their ass, just so they can see what it feels like.

By Blogger Doppelganger, at May 1, 2006 at 10:11 AM  

Heh, my daughter is in the 25th percentile and can hold her own. I pretty much let her handle it and move in only when it looks like she's either going to verbally tear the other child a new one or wallop them back. Any problems and Bean just fixes the other child with a cold stare and states, "You are not nice. I won't play with you." As an adult, that has little impact. To a small child, crushing blow.

By Blogger Liz, at May 2, 2006 at 8:06 PM  

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