Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Opus travelus

And how was your weekend?

Us? We went up to Rochester for M’s mom’s birthday party. And the party was lovely. Seeing family was lovely. Seeing old friends was lovely. But we had our moments…

Like when we had just gotten through airport security. I had reassembled L into her carseat into her stroller, rehung the diaper bag on the stroller handle, reshod my feet, reshod E’s feet, rehoisted the backpack on my shoulder, and was waiting for M to put his shoes on so we could find our gate. And E, who was skittish about the security procedures, who didn’t want to walk through the electro-whatever machine the first time without me, who didn’t like being told she had to go by herself and couldn’t hold Mommy’s hand, who doesn’t normally leave my side when there are strangers around – that same child was suddenly possessed by spirits and bolted back through the electro-whatever machine. With a smile on her face. And she kept running. Past a very long line of people who just wanted to complete their own security ordeals in a timely fashion and commence holiday weekend plans. She was well on her way back toward the main concourse. Kind strangers were grabbing at her. I helplessly shouted “she’s mine!” but she was out of sight in the crowd. One guard behind me shouted into his radio “SHUT IT DOWN!” while another shouted into his radio “KID’S LOOSE!” and I stood awkwardly with our other ward, the one who can be credited with causing no trouble, though perhaps only because she doesn’t know how to walk or talk yet, or because she was already physically restrained in her carrier. And M just sort of froze as well, looking off into the crowd, shoes still in his hand and not on his feet, not thrown down to the ground as he broke into a sprint, because he didn’t sprint at all, or run, or even fast-walk after E, that crazy little monkey. Later he said it was because the first thought that went into his brain was – How do I go backwards through security, backwards through the electro-whatever machine, without breaking any more rules and causing further trouble? And as fast as it happened it was over, when through the efforts of strangers and guards but neither of her parents, E was returned to our proximity, ushered (again) in a FORWARD direction through the thing, and we found our airplane.

Coming soon to a 2T t-shirt near you: THE DYBBUK MADE ME DO IT.

I forget that our area tends towards very humid weather until we leave, and I inevitably get a scratchy throat. E got the same scratchy throat this weekend. Also, she was out of a crib for the weekend, and on an Aerobed on the (carpeted) floor of M’s parents’ office. But that first night, she was coughing a lot, and also rolling off of the bed. A lot. Even though it was a full-sized mattress. After going in to soothe her several times she pleaded with me, “you stay with me so I sleep, Mama.” So I stayed. And then she slept. But I didn’t, very much, because I spent much of the rest of the night either yanking her back from the edge of falling, or waking to the sound of a thud and retrieving her from the floor. And then she snuggled me right into the corner, where I spent the last hour or so of the night wedged tightly between my little angel and a cold, metal file cabinet.


After the party on Sunday we packed to go home. Aunt Beverly watched me shoving everything in so the bags would zip closed, and, commenting on how many gifts the girls received, accurately observed, “Huh, you’re fitting all the clothes in the small suitcase because the big one is filled with toys!” (which explains the constant state of our family room floor). Aunt Beverly had time to make these comments because she wasn’t leaving until the next day. She and the rest of the family had big plans for Olive Garden after we left. We had big plans for foil packs of free pretzels. So I packed and shoved and crammed and zipped and swore only a little and only when the girls couldn’t hear me, and we got into the car and went to the airport and arrived a little after 4 pm for a flight that was supposed to take off just before 6 pm, only to be told at check-in that it had been moved to 3:38 pm and oh, haven’t you heard? Well, there’s probably an email notification waiting for you on your computer. Except, um, well, we’re traveling and visiting family – we’re not playing on Yahoo! and are you kidding me! So we’re standing there, so ready to go home, so packed, so having promised promises that now must be withdrawn, we’re standing there, two parents with two children, two carseats, two suitcases, one stroller, one backpack, one diaper bag, and only 2.5 and 4 hours until bedtimes, respectively, and they say to us, We can still get you to Maryland tonight. You’ll just have to depart this here upstate New York airport and connect in ATLANTA, GEORGIA to get to Maryland tonight. That’s no problem and that makes sense, right? Why don’t we just start arranging those seat assignments for you? So we said gee, thanks but no thanks, and decided to crash Olive Garden.


So we’re sitting in Olive Garden and within seconds E climbs out of her chair and into my lap. She’s hungry, overstimulated, so over being asked repeatedly for kisses and hugs that she’s not interested in dispensing, and still not reconciled to The New Plans. And, when Olive Garden promises a little girl that she can have crayons, they mean exactly and only two crayons. And neither was purple. So I’m trying to soothe CrankyPants by playing with her hair, when she asks, “do me a ponytail, Mama.” Except, of course, my supplies are light because we’re traveling and I don’t have everything in my purse that I usually do. So I ask if anyone has a rubberband, and of all the unlikely candidates to come up with hair accessories, E’s great-grandmother Gigi pulls out a rubberband from her purse. And so Aunt Beverly turns to her mother and asks, “Ma, why do you have a rubberband?” And Gigi replies, “well, I use it when my stockings are rolling down to keep them on above my ankles!” So I was handed an 87-year-old woman’s used garter.

AND I USED IT IN MY DAUGHTER’S HAIR. And for a minute, she was happy.

Until she pooped. She announced, MAMA, I POOPED! And so we went off to find the restroom to change her diaper. It was one of those Koala brand fold-down diaper changing stations that E hates. I started to lower her horizontally and she clutched her waistband and said "Mama! I wait until we go home!" Which is gross because I know the size of her poops, and because our entrees had not even been served yet. So I had to come up with an Acceptable Alternate Plan. And I proposed going outside and finding some grass to lie down in, and then we could accomplish this very necessary diaper change on terra firma. Except any notion of natural ground outside Olive Garden, any non-sidewalk, non-paved patch of earth seems to be covered in brown rocky landscaping stuff. So we walk to the far corner of the parking lot, to a tiny triangle of grass that I now see slopes down to a drainage culvert, murky, and sort of barricaded with tattered fencing, a perfect little pasture for laying your daughter down on the ground. And she sees grass and is so excited to lay down and get this disgusting diaper off of her, this diaper she knows would never hold up for another hour or longer, this diaper that is literally filled from front waistband to rear wasteband with the wastes of a healthy child who regularly indulges her can-a-day black bean habit. She's jumping to lie down. And I'm positioning the changing pad on the grass so carefully, and positioning her head, her hair, her body on the changing pad so carefully, and positioning my knees in the grass around her prostrate form so carefully because this tiny oasis of grass, this Eden for my daughter's diaper changing phobias, this small recognizable parcel of natural habitat is COVERED IN THE POOPS OF HUNDREDS OF CANADIAN GEESE. I'm squatting all around fossilizing poops to wipe away my daughter's fresh equivalent.

How I Spent My Start-of-Summer Vacation: POOP ON POOP.

We went back to M's parents' house, reassembled the portable crib, the inflatable bed, unplugged telephones, re-rearranged furniture, re-unpacked pajamas and toiletries and sleep mate stuffed animals, got L down to sleep, fed E her second dinner, and got her to bed. And she more or less demanded "You sleep with me NOW, Mama." And since M was planning to stay up late working, since he had been planning to be home by now, I just did. I just called it quits on the day and crawled in the inflatabed with her. And we were both asleep by 9:30 or so. And she did sleep a lot better with me close, even including the hour or so where she slept directly on the carpet because she fell off the bed and was too deeply asleep for me to pull her back up.

And yesterday morning we re-re-packed, re-disassembled, re-returned to the airport. We crossed through security with our family intact. And this time, as E said, we did actually drive the airplane home.

The party really was lovely. And L was introduced to her great-grandmother for the first time. And she took her first plane trip. (And as pertains to the actual flying portions of the weekend, both girls did fantastically - no crying from either one.) But we truly felt the truth of Dorothy's lesson yesterday. THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

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