My 80 year old vegan mom has an amazing amount of energy; she cares for my four year old, Luna, like it was nothing. She is so great with Luna that I started to take her for granted. Until she took a week off and headed for Santa Barbara, leaving me in charge, I will never take her for granted again.
My week with Luna was going well. Monday we went to the beach. Tuesday we went to the beach. Wednesday, we were going to the beach, but as we were almost out the door, I remembered that Wednesday is story time at the library, important for Luna’s intellectual development. So, despite being ready for the beach, we put away our beach stuff and went to story time at the library, but not before Luna changed her outfit three times.
I didn’t change. My flip-flops had holes , repaired with duct tape, my shirt was old and dingy, and I hadn’t shaved in five days. I was not dressed to impress, but it was a last minute thing. Anyway, nobody notices me when I’m with Luna, she’s the star.
We arrived at the library and I remember thinking that normally a gentleman should remove his hat indoors, but not today because my hair was a disaster. As I made this decision, Luna playfully ripped the hat from my head and ran off.
I’m not used to being in libraries, and I was only kidding when I picked up my flip flop and threw it at her, screaming, “Bring back my hat, numbnuts! I wasn’t mad; we play like this all the time. Anyway, I soon realized where I was, in a library, a place with books for goodness sake, and I got a hold of myself, but not before catching the eye of one of the parents, a real Edna Kravitz type, who gave me quite a look. Not a good start.
Things went from bad to worse because, as luck would have it, on this particular Wednesday, story time featured a puppet show. Nothing creeps me out more than puppet shows, not even clowns, so as Luna sat up front with her friends enjoying the show, I was away in the back, like I didn’t even have a child.
A blonde kid, maybe two years old, came running by me. “Reagan”, his mom called after him, “wait for mommy,” and Reagan just kept right on running, he may still be running. So, his mom gave up and took a place in the back by me. I was not sure where Luna was at this point, but I kept pretending to wave to her, to save myself the judgment of the other parents. One of the puppeteers thought I was waving at him and waved back at me, awkward.
Eventually, Reagan’s mom turned to me and said, “your daughter is over there,” pointing away from where I had been waving, with a look that said, “be a better parent”.
It turned out that Reagan’s mom knew my mom, so we talked a little, ignoring the puppet show, and became friends. Later, at the library playground, when another two-year old ran up to me and his mom screamed in a panic, “Kennedy! Stay close to mommy!”, protecting him from me as if I was oncoming traffic, Reagan’s mom vouched for me. It felt good to be accepted.
The puppet finally ended, and I thought it was time to go. I was scanning the front of the room trying to find my daughter, and then I heard, “Daddy, where’s my lunch?” just as I noticed a bunch of kids sitting around cute little tables, eating. I didn’t have to answer her; she knew her butterfly lunch bag was sitting on the living room floor with the beach stuff. She sat down next to me and made her best sad face. Her friend came by and offered her a cookie, and she refused, saying, “No thank you, I am vegan”. That cheered her up: she loves saying that.
After lunch, came craft time, which involved glue, scissors, glitter, pipe cleaner, popsicle sticks, plastic googly eyeballs, and maybe 1,000 little bits of paper. It took somebody a long time to set up all of this stuff for the project. It took Luna 30 seconds to complete her project and run off. And it took me a while to clean up the aftermath. As I finished, a little boy, just learning to walk, cute as can be, came right up to me and fell on his face. I shouldn’t have laughed, especially after he started crying. It was just the way he went down, so suddenly, and the sound he made when he hit the ground, thud. His mom was not as amused as I was. She picked him up, gave me an angry look (my third of the day). In the commotion, I must have become confused and accidentally thrown away Luna’s craft project. Also, I wasn’t completely sure where she ran off to earlier.
Looking for an excuse to escape the crying kid and his mom anyway, I set off looking for my daughter. Here is where I found her, with her friend, pretending to read.
How cute, but it was time to go. The morning fog had lifted and the beach was calling. Even the good parents were ready to bail on the library, giving their kids the five-minute warning, “Reagan, five minutes.”
This is a strategy that good parents use so their children don’t have meltdowns when it’s time to go. I guess it eases them into it, gives them time to adjust emotionally.
“Let’s go, Pumpkin”, I said to my daughter without a five-minute warning because she can’t tell time, and off we went.
On the car ride home she asked me where her craft was.
“I don’t know, Baby”, I said, “be more responsible with your things”. I caught her gaze in the rearview mirror, and she knew I threw it away.
She said, “I love you daddy, but sometimes you’re a real numbnuts”
Where does she learn this stuff?
Hope you’re having a nice vacation Mom, hurry back.