Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Afternoon Delight

I spend a lot of time whingeing (as the English say) about the tedium of my days, so I thought I would just come right out and announce, "Today I spent all day with my three-year-old, and she was adorable, funny and EASY." Oooh, that was hard to say. But I'm sure it gets easier with time.

My friend Robyn is in town from Texas, and we had an impromptu play date this morning at a park in Santee. It rained all night, but the morn was brilliantly blue and clear with little puffs of cloud as we ascended the hill on Mission Gorge that leads into town. Some locals may giggle, but driving to Santee always puts me in a good mood. Within two minutes of leaving our neighborhood, the horizon is jagged with rocky, green mini-mountains, and all traffic recedes into the distance. There are restaurants and ramshackle businesses by the side of the road that look like they've been there 50 years.

The park was lovely (and new to us) with a burbling creek around the perimeter. The equipment was kind of wet and Jarrah helped me inspect all the slides, nodding sympathetically when I lamented the lack of towels in my trunk (why don't any of the baby books include this? "In order to effectively parent toddlers, you will need a fresh supply of towels in the car at all times.") I dried off one swing with my sleeve, and pushed her for a bit, with birds the only sound.

Then Robyn arrived, bringing her two lovely boys, Joshua, 6 and Jared, 3. Jared and Jarrah used to go to school together, where no doubt they spent half the day whipping their head around when someone was calling the other one. Now the real fun could begin, such as throwing sticks in the creek, falling down on the slippery rocks, and getting covered in mud. Good times, good times. With the kids thus engrossed, Robyn and I were able to sit in the sun (after she gamely offered the boys' sweatshirts as "rain rags" for the wet equipment) and catch up a little. We heard nary a peep from anyone for about an hour, and then there was a polite request for snacks, which we granted.

Soon after, we headed out to The Omelette Factory, a Santee tradition of such longevity that Robyn's last visit there had included diners sucking back Pall Malls with their eggs. There wasn't a person under 70 in the place, but everyone had big smiles for us, and our fabulous waitress presented the kids with two BUCKETS of crayons that they happily destroyed for most of the meal. It's the kind of place where the biscuits and muffins are homemade and still hot, and the children inhaled pancakes soaked in syrup like we never feed them. I had the bright idea to seat the three small people on one side of the table so I was able to eat my food without a single syrup fingerprint on my arm, and I was pleased as all get-out.

After our meal, Robyn and the boys headed home for naps, but I decided to chance things with little J, and I'm happy to report that I was rewarded for my courage. First stop, Michael's, because I needed some size 7 needles, and though I tarried and dawdled, feeling up yarn as is my disturbing habit these days, Jarrah happily fondled her rubber jellyfish, stayed within two feet, and didn't complain once. In fact, as we pulled in and I announced, "We're stopping at Michael's!" she exclaimed, "They have dinosaurs for me to play with!" I responded, "Well...hmmm!" because I didn't know what she meant, but sure enough, that kid has a memory like Santa Claus, and there they were, a whole mess of dinos in a bin.

After that, I said we were making one more stop at the supermarket, and she nodded and said, "That's okay, Mommy. I need juice. And yo-gret." "And will you remind me to buy Kleenex?" I added. She nodded, very serious. We are serious about tissues at our house. At the store, I asked if she would like her own cart (seriously, they have these freakishly adorable kid-sized shopping carts) and she said yes and placed her camera inside (she goes everywhere with her camera these days, and I often glimpse flashing from behind my head in the car.) Then she trucked up and down every aisle, arranging each item I placed inside, and the cutest part, the part that literally HURT MY HEART, was when I'd reach for the tall pole stuck to the side of the cart for that very reason--so an adult can guide the cart while the kid pushes it--and she'd gently but firmly reach over and remove my hand, like Excuse me, Mommy. I am shopping. Please don't interfere. You go about your business.

And so I did. I strode up and down at full speed, grabbing items and placing them in the cart, and I hardly looked back. And though the cart got very full, and probably very heavy, she never slowed down, never missed a sudden turn, and never asked for my help. Each time we passed an employee or another shopper, they would pause in wonder at this determined little person pushing my groceries with no supervision that they could see.

When we got to the car, she said she was very tired and ready for nap pants. And that she was a baby. Coulda fooled me.


Anonymous said...

I love that she still asks for nap pants.

You were very courageous. I hope for lots of days like that for us all in the future. I find that Joy has a lot more stamina these days. She loves the "baby carts," as she calls them.

And, BTW, if a playground has sand, it works great to get rid of the water drops. Just toss some on the slide and brush the wet sand off. Paul taught that to me!



Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Don't those little carts just rock! What a charming day you describe. I miss those days . . .

Caroline said...

Shortly after William turned three, he became a wonderful co-shopper, commenting sagely on the prettiness of home decor and helping me put food in carts. As long as he isn't in a bad mood (or with his brother, who brings out the devil in him), stores can be a magical wonderland for us both. :) Hope you have a lot more fun with Jarrah like that (and that some hidden guy gene doesn't pop out in William too soon, making him hate shopping, as so many guys do).

Anonymous said...

"Nap pants"--so cute!

What a sweet post. Loved it.

Miss J

p.s. I hope you remembered the Kleenex!

Anonymous said...

Beware - it's days like these that have you going: "Hey, a second kid might be nice." ;)

Best, Gail

Smitten Knitten said...

Sounds like you guys had an awesome day! Glad you got to spend some time with Robyn and the boys!

Anonymous said...

Good tip re. towels! :) Glad you had a fun day. xxx lix

Anonymous said...

That's my girl!

And, Vincent has his own nap pants, too. :)