Bless me, Earth Mother, for I have sinned.
To cut to the chase, I drove a full 22 minutes on a perfectly gorgeous sunny autumn day to buy a bucket of plastic toys. Virgin plastic. $29.99. Lots of petroleum. Bad precedent. I know, it’s not pretty.
So why did I fall so hard? It’s complicated. It starts with the grunts of a baby that had me more actively parenting in the night than I’d like, such that I then ended up sleeping until 9 a.m. Wow, that is late. By the time baby girl and I emerged, waffles had been made, and when it was time for my husband to take our son to a birthday party 90 minutes later, it became clear that the poor child had had essentially no protein in the three and a half hours he‘d been awake. No wonder he was copping an adolescent-sized whinefest about riding in his baby sister’s stroller instead of biking, walking or scootering the 3 and a half blocks to the party. We stuffed him full of nuts and goat cheese, but I claim the damage had already been done. Like mother, like son: a day that starts with carbs is not one with a storybook ending. Unless your storybook has the name Grimm on the spine.
Hubby left the party shortly after we arrived (boy on bike, baby in sling) so that he could do his one fun/sporting activity of the week. So I was left solo with the two kids. Usually the mom who brings an entire meal to a party for her gluten-free son, this time all I had prepped was a trio of Enjoy Life allergen-free snickerdoodle cookies that I bought on sale hoping I would get a chance to bake and wouldn’t need them. Fat chance.
What a surprise when I heard the host say something about lunch. Did I even read the Evite, I wondered? I had assumed we’d be back home for lunch after just some snacks and cake. Wrong! Lunch was sandwiches and pasta salad. The host kindly gave me access to some lunchmeat (not Applegate or Wellshire, so I gave him just one slice) and a big chunk of cheese off of which I cut several slices then and again when he asked for more. What a great guest I am. He also ate a lot of grapes and some veggie chips (which I hoped were not the kind that contains wheat flour) and even handed me a stray goldfish that made its way onto his plate, bless his heart. And he ate it all without complaint from a rocking chair on the floor because the big table was full.
Then came the cake — an impeccable purple castle. My son knows other people’s cakes are not his destiny, so it was no surprise or disappointment that he’d be denied a turret or graham cracker-covered door. But I still wondered how he’d react to the unfamiliar cookies. He ate one and half of the three I’d placed in a plastic container with a prune. Please do note: he ate the prune first. So clearly, all hope is not lost on us. (Oh, and he specifically asked after the cookies for water, not for more of the watered down juice I’d given him with lunch.)
But when he started to lose it when some toddlers toddled over his duplo block creation, I knew we had to make a hasty exit. He was fully in tears, and no suggestions would appease him. Someone asked if I wanted her to hold the baby. At first, I balked, and then I handed her over to scoop up my son from the puddle he’d become. My shoulder had been getting tired from the sling, but let me tell you, 40 pounds feels different than nine. “I can hold her while you get him out to the car,” the helpful arms offered. “Oh, there’s no car,” I said, basking in self-pity.
The prospect of getting my tired, not-well-fed kiddo to ride his trike or even walk all the way home while I had a baby dangling off my front and black diaper bag on my back was, well daunting. So I approached the situation first with empathy, and then with what some might crassly call a bribe. Whatever the name, it worked. “I know you’re upset. We can get you some Legos of your own sometime maybe later this weekend. I need you to come home with me now. The party is over anyway.”
We have no toys like this, and he loves them, so I was willing to make good on my promise if he forced the issue. I would have rather lasted until I could get to a consignment sale or put something out on a mom’s list as an ISO item. But then the rest of the day happened. The baby woke up as soon as we got home. And she wasn’t the only one who needed to eat; I was hungry, too. A late breakfast will only get a nursing mom so far.
After the girls had a few rounds of eating and nursing, the preschooler started to get restless and the baby was tired and too pissed to poop out. A request to “watch something” was made as were several comments about Legos. We had to do something if I was to avoid screen time and a serious strike to my sanity. It was time to hit the road.
I rejected the notion of letting him know that there was such a thing as Toys R Us (even though it’s only a mile away), and I decided against seeing what TJ Maxx might have in its toy section. In truth, a drive didn’t sound like a bad use of time. I was pretty sure the baby would fall asleep (she did) and that the boy would chill (he did. Didn’t even ask for a CD). Lakeshore didn’t have exactly what I was looking for — I’d called but since I don’t really know these toys, I probably didn’t describe correctly — but the bucket of building lego-like thingies they had seemed to fit the bill. I also picked up some tracing cards to have one other trick up my sleeve for quiet-time activities.
He made a little craft while I paid (bonus for coming on a Saturday!), and, despite my getting a little lost in the Mixing Bowl on my way to find 395, we got home just over an hour after we’d left. The purchase even inspired my son to clean up his train set and, by extension, his whole toy area to leave room for building with off-brand legos. So my gas-guzzling consumer trip ended up with an unexpected reward of the impetus to sort stuff and clear the clutter, something I’ve been wanting to do forever. Sitting on the floor pregnant, or with a sore perineum, or with a baby in a sling is not very comfortable, and this time Daddy was back home to hold the girl, so I was thrilled to have the chance to tackle this project.
Let’s hope I don’t take too much from this positive reinforcement, which was topped off by the kiddo later happily going up to bed early and falling asleep before 7:15. But this is not justice, and I had to confess. I know Mother Earth knows anyway, but sometimes you have to tell the tale to stop secretly hoping you’ll get away with doing it again.