Monday, February 27, 2006

Rites of Passage

I feel like I had my mommy initiation today, in various ways. Here's one: right now Jarrah is behind me making an unholy racket with her "Bee Bop Band" drum kit that she got from her Auntie Lisa, and all I feel is profound relief that something is diverting her enough for me to type for a few minutes.

Okay, that didn't last long. We just had a full-scale meltdown that involved some uniquely horrible-looking rolling-on-the-hard-floor-screaming, a behavior I have never seen before. Today she seems incredibly frustrated anytime she is not standing or walking, but since she can't actually walk on her own, when we let her hands go she has to sit down. It's like she's on the verge of walking and it pisses her off that she can't just go already. In the past few days, her pre-walking has grown sturdier; she stands confidently, and reaches for landmarks hand over hand. I think she is getting ready to launch and the waiting is somehow getting on her nerves.

Either that or she's totally regressing with us. Today is three weeks since we met her, and maybe it's sinking in that she has to stay here. The rolling and screaming today alarmed me, as did the way she freaked when I ran the garbage disposal and the Dustbuster, both noises she's already heard many times. I even gave her a bottle to calm her down after the Dustbuster incident, and she flung it away and went back to rolling on the floor. Now that is really weird--usually nothing gets between this girl and her bottle.

Anyway, this is not what I was going to write about. She slept for 2 and a half hours (score!) this afternoon, but by the time I was going to meet Caroline the sky was darkening and so was Jarrah's mood. We both needed to get out, so I stuffed her in the stroller and wheeled her to the supermarket (it's only a couple of blocks.) She really enjoys all the objects and colors associated with shopping and often tries to "help" me if I hesitate in front of anything too long. When I got to the checkout, the lady in front of me noticed I just had a soda and some Veggie Puffs (clearly I didn't really need to shop right then) and invited me to cut in front of her. I smiled radiantly and thanked her, but it wasn't until a moment later when her cell phone rang and I heard her say, "Absolutely not. We have Grandpa's thing tonight and besides, you're on restriction" that I realized she let me go in front of her because I had a baby with me. Wow. Then, the lady in front of me and the checker were all ga-ga over how cute the baby was, and there were no annoying questions, just "Oh, she's so cute!" and me batting my eyelashes murmuring "Why, thank you." So those were the first two items in "A Day in the Life of Jarrah's Mother."

Then we strolled over to the park, where we were examined curiously by a small group of women and their toddlers as we parked our gear near the slide. Finally one of them said, "Are you here for the mother's group?" and I answered "No, we're just here for the slide," and then, feeling a bit terse, added pleasantly "Are you a group?" "Yes, we're a group," they said, and went back to their conversation, one that I was not eager to join as I found the subject tedious--all about how singers should not have opinions of any kind, they should simply "entertain," and how these women would not listen to music whose singers espoused "immoral values." You better believe I gave them a wide berth after that. We were minding our own business saying hello to a spaniel and frolicking on the grass (grass is now okay if only shoes are touching it) when I noticed that the women were packing up, so we moved over to the now-vacant swing. One of the moms approached me and said "Excuse me, but if you're interested in a mom's group, we have 350 members all over the county and we have all kinds of events, some without the kids, too." Another one of the moms tip-toed up behind her and offered me their card so I can check out their website. "That way you don't have to memorize anything," she smiled sympathetically. "Good thing, since I have the memory of a goldfish these days," I smiled in return. They all tittered and made noises of assent, and I thought to myself, "Oh my stars, I have something in common with these women. They're inviting me to pledge their sorority." I also noticed that none of them made "adoption face" at Jarrah--I wonder if people just assume my husband is Asian when he's not there.

As I walked home, I mused on my new status, so simple and obvious and pure to others, so complicated to me. When I first got to the park, a lithe young man ran past me and Jarrah craned around to watch him. "That's a jogger," I told her. "That's something Mommy would never do." A minute later, we rounded a bend and I saw a band of long-haired teen ruffians fomenting just below boiling point, all of them focused on something to my left. When I looked, I saw the same jogger, who appeared to be yelling at them, and as I drew closer, I heard him say, "Are you trying to tell me that a rock just came out of thin air and hit me?" and some of the ruffians called "I guess so!" while one of them boldly added, "Can I get my rock back, mister?" The jogger was fuming, desperate for satisfaction. "Is that how you behave? You go around throwing rocks at people?" At this moment, I passed into frame, and the jogger whipped his head around and gestured, "What if that rock had hit this baby?" "I wouldn't throw a rock at the baby!" shouted the head ruffian. "Oh, but you'd throw a rock at me?" the jogger screamed, and I passed out of frame right then, shoulders up around my ears, head down. A few steps later, I leaned down to Jarrah and told her, "Children are often horrible. Try not to be like that when you get older." And this clever statement was followed by a free-floating but sobering thought: This is only the beginning. I'm going to have a helluva lot of work to do.

I better start reviewing those rock n' roll values right away.


aaryn b. said...'s the website for this Band of Mommies? I'm simply curiousl to know what music they suggest we all listen to...

in the meantime, keep on keepin' on and look out for flying rocks.


Amy said...

Hey Sam,
As a former high school teacher I can attest that at that age they run the full spectrum. But I am sure Jarrah will be one of those teens that sets a shining example for the rest. I must tell you I laughed out loud at your "jogging is something mommy would never do" comment. We have that in common for sure!
Stay dry today.

Anonymous said...

You met the Stepford Moms! ;)

Ah, the anti-noise reaction! Either Jarrah's ears are acting up, or she's decided she's against loud noises that aren't created by herself. My younger son, who at two was good at noise, used to follow me around crying whenever I vacuumed. Since I hated vacumming, I could either torture us both, or enjoy dust balls until he wasn't there. No contest!

Teenagers ...sigh. The two's after the two's...but that's another story for a much later time.

People are generally nice around moms. A definite benefit!

Sounds like you're getting this mommy thing down pretty good! :)

Best, Gail

Kim said...

Impressed with how you seem to have fallen right into motherhood. It suits you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam!

Sounds like these moms would be apalled that I have 91.1 X blasting in the Beetle while driving around with Anton. :-) I told James that Anton will either be really cool or really confused. :-)

Hmmmm......this playground of yours is looking ripe for Animal Crackers. I like all the trees!

Lisa :-)