Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Inside Poop

Jarrah walked today! I mean really walked. Like, cruised and shmoozed walked. It was so cute. She balances each step with precision and delicacy, her round belly bobbling out in front. Aaryn said Jarrah's belly arrives a little while before she does. :) This morning David retreated and beckoned in our wide, empty living room and she kept coming. She crossed the entire room without falling! And even more impressive, she walked as her predominant mode of exploration at Animal Crackers this morning. I'm not sure if it was Lisa's Toddler Dream House (kind of like the Barbie Dream House, but less pink, and with more toys in every room) or the walking thing--could it also have been the absence of jet lag?--but Jarrah enjoyed her second Animal Crackers like nobody's business. She walked and crawled and played and stole other children's toys and bottles. At what age am I supposed to start being stern about her unfortunate habit of swiping other children's things? She's so nonchalant about it, too. She sidles up gently from one side, and in one quick motion, the coveted item is at home in her mouth or her freakishly strong little fists.

Wow. I just have to interrupt myself for breaking news. This just in: I was sitting here typing (as I am wont to do) and heard a swooshy padded sound coming up behind me. That is nothing new; I leave Jarrah in another room and she starts to get suspicious that I am enjoying a snack or beverage on the down low, so she sends out a search party. But what made this completely new and different is that when I looked up, she was standing in the doorway. She had WALKED in from the other room. And when I smiled and reached out to her, a gesture that usually gets the big touchdown salute and an additional spring in the step into my waiting arms, she turned on her heel and she left again! Well, I never!

Readers, it's official. We have a walker today. Not just the occasional party trick, but a lean, mean, walkin' machine. Heaven help us.

My title today commemorates another first, and that is experience with baby bodily functions at the mall. That might not sound like a big deal to some of you, but believe me, I am a girl who thought she knew her malls. When I was in junior high, my friends Wendy, Jill and I used to roller skate to the mall every weekend. We were seasoned pros. We "checked" our skates at the JC Penney garden shop (even as a 12-year-old, I had chutzpah--what was this "checking" business all about?) The salespeople always grimaced and agreed by not refusing--they just took our skates and stashed them behind the flower prep area. Then we'd pull our flip-flops out of our pockets and go on our merry way. That merry way consisted of trying on every version of Love's Baby Soft at the perfume counter, modeling purses for each other, buying exactly one quarter's worth of Swedish fish from the candy bins, and basically treating the place like a theme park until closing time without actually buying stuff. These halycon days instilled the mall with a comfy, home-like quality that it retains to this day. I digress merely to create context.

So, until I had a baby, I didn't know department stores had elevators. I am claustrophobic by nature, and prefer the escalator. The stroller, however, does not prefer the escalator. I was also confounded as to the purpose of those "Build-A-Bear Workshops"--what were they for? Why not purchase one's teddy bear fully assembled? And, my friends, I didn't really understand what went on in "the mother's lounge." This is a couch-filled antechamber to the ladies' restroom found in your finer department stores. I have always walked by it quickly, with my head down, not really wanting to know what went on in there. Secret rituals involving breast pumps? Discussions about stretch marks? Even worse was the prospect of encountering one of those spit-up-covered, squalling infants in a state of being patted and rocked by a grown woman also wearing a thin sheen of spit-up. No thanks.

But today I needed the mother's lounge for another, even more nefarious purpose. Caroline, Will, Alex, Jarrah and I were having a perfectly lovely time with the toy train table at Geppetto's when things got a little whiffy. Uh-oh. I had already congratulated myself for changing a dirty diaper during Animal Crackers without incident, and now here was another one. Suddenly I remembered the secret room I'd been averting my eyes from for so many years. My friends, that was about to change. First, we wheeled the strollers in, and I proposed to Caroline that we take turns using the facilities (for grownups, that is) while the other one watched the strollers. But she, gently, with a finesse admirable for someone who has already been doing this for over two years, pointed out that the strollers actually fit inside the handicapped stalls. They do?? Wow! It was true. And so it happened that Jarrah had her first look at the manner in which adults perform their business. I had a hysterical laughing fit in the stall when I saw Jarrah's face at the first sound of splashing. It was like "Yo, where is that water coming from?" I told Caroline that she looked like Jeff Spicoli to me. That probably sounds weird but it was the first comparison that popped into my head. :)

Afterwards, I wheeled her into the mother's lounge, only to find myself perplexed. This room is very nice, I mused, with its plushy furniture and a gal chatting on her cell phone. Am I to disrobe the poopy child on one of these deluxe sofas? I thought not. You can see I was working with very limited experience here. When it comes to parenting, it's as if I were the one who's just been born. While most mothers of almost-15-month olds are a skilled hand at navigating the mall (unless they are inveterate mall-haters, which I do respect) I am a swaddling babe and in need of patient schooling. After turning in circles for a few moments, I spotted what looked like a changing table in one corner. And, because it was Nordstrom, it was actually padded. Jarrah is a very active child. It is not uncommon to find yourself admiring her departing tushy as she motors away in the middle of a diaper change. For this reason I have always changed her on the floor. But now I dumped her onto the changing table and tossed her from arm to arm, juggling my supplies.

A word here about supplies. At times I feel a mother must become a diaper artist. A quick change artist, if you will. ;) I prepare my canvas of changing pad (with thingo to keep it from getting too disgusting to put back in my bag) and then mix my palette of diaper, wipes, and scented bag. I strip the baby, even the socks, as I've learned the hard way that, well, we don't want to be carrying extra socks every day, do we? I manoever her onto her back with one arm, while dangling what I hope is a fascinatingly distracting toy in the other (usually it ends up being something--anything--I have handy, and not actually intended to the purpose.) I roll up my sleeves, and I dive in with a flourish. If all goes well, the baby emerges with a bold, new look of post-modern freshness.

Anyway, things did go pretty well. I ended up flipping her around a few times, and at one point she was standing at attention on the table, looking down on me like I was nuts, and I was laughing so hard I could barely get the diaper open. But it felt like a milestone.

Now if I could just find somewhere to check my rollerskates, I will truly have mastered the mall.


Amy said...

I have been reading your blog...sounds like you have been very busy! I think about you often. I have been bogged down with the details of your playroom remodel for the past month. Hope to be totally done in about 2 more weeks (keep your fingers crossed!) I would love to have you and Jarrah down for lunch and play as soon as it is finished. But perhaps we can meet for a walk at the lake one day next week? Miss you mucho! I am happy you and Mary are able to spend so much time together while she is home...when does Paul take over the day shift?

Sam said...

Hi Amy! Yay! Exciting about your playroom! We are so there! :)

And a walk around Lake Murray sounds awesome. Sign me up for that!

Paul is taking over starting next week. Maybe I'll be seeing a lot of him, too. ;)


Anonymous said...

Hi Sammy! LOVE your stories, as always. I totally relate to your feelings about the mall - I used to spend endless hours at our town's tiny mall when I was a teenager, where Val and I would crack ourselves up by trying on prom dresses we had no intention of buying. And I always got a tiny bag of candy corn from the candy store! Thinking of you, and Jarrah and David, Liz