Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Tale of Two Sons

After a week with Son the Older home last week (Lunar New Year break - ha, *I* was going Lunar) and then 48 hours this weekend spent indoors with my husband and sons (it's been really cold here), today feels like vacation. Finally I may read the newspaper, blog, or breathe without someone asking me to play with them or make chocolate milk every 2.5 milliseconds.

There is a cold fear that enters a housebound mom's heart by day three of vacation any time her child intones, with that particular whiny-ish nasal twang, "Mommy, come play with me." Ooh, will it be another round of Batman, Legos, or (particularly stultifying) Chutes and Ladders? Gee, I really should unload this here dishwasher, an activity that never looked so appealing until this very moment. Or maybe an elective dental appointment -- yeah, that'd work. Add to that the guilt, borne by the imagination of moms worldwide chirping happily "Sure, hon, I'll be the Joker today!" (Even though one knows this is really an illusion created by commercials, wherein moms also enjoy scrubbing the soap ring on the bathroom tub, whipping up Hamburger Helper meals, and smiling over their husband's shoulder as he asks his doctor about Viagra.) The couple of playdates we had saved my life (but don't even get me started on the concept of "playdates").

Yet after that, I must say that even in close quarters all weekend I was able to keep my cool. (Maybe the International Herald Tribune crossword puzzle helped.) And I emerged with a new appreciation of the happy-go-lucky simplicity of my three-year-old's life. Each day, his day would go something like this:
1. Get up, whenever, then either a) bound into Mommy and Daddy's bed right away and ask for chocolate milk and cartoons or b) play Thomas the Tank engine trains until mood changes, then go to a).
2. Watch cartoons, whilst drinking chocolate milk, maybe ask for cereal. Take off overnight diaper; sit around half naked if that's comfy. Maybe play trains while watching/drinking/eating.
3. See what Mommy and Daddy are doing when mood hits. Get hugged, kissed, tickled, fed, chased, or dressed then go back to #3.
4. Lunchtime: half a "red jelly" sandwich. Leave some on face so Mommy or Daddy will chase you and wipe it and tickle you later.
5. Naptime.
6. Wake up, wander out, climb into someone's lap, ask for and receive chocolate milk. (When reminded to "ask nicely" rephrase as "May you give me chocolate milk, pwease.") Play with brother or play trains.
7. Wander into computer room, observe color of screen, identifying its color by referencing appropriate Wiggles character. Ask to play "Thomas" computer game. When denied, refuse to be consoled until snack is offered. Tickling and kisses may also be required.
8. Dinner time: choose between pizza or chicken nuggets.
9. Bath time: lots of naked running and jumping on Mommy and Daddy's bed with brother before and after. Refuse to stop for pajamas until it feels a little too breezy. Optional request for additional chocolate milk.
10. Bedtime: make sport of rinsing after brushing teeth with brother, then play while Daddy reads story. Next, whisper-play in bed, interspersed with sips of water, plaintive plea to find blankie, and an unnecessary bathroom trip, then fall asleep when utterly unable to think up any more diversions with which to trick Mommy and Daddy.

Just watching him bop around all weekend, sampling from the smorgasbord of affectionate attention that is his to claim, I just thought it seemed quite idyllic, adult tendency to over-romanticize childhood notwithstanding. No point to this really, just wanting to share the toddler cuteness. It passes by too fast. I can definitely attest to that, having spent an entire week as a pawn of the complex mindgames that are the province of the five-year-old: "If you don't play with me I won't be your best friend." If the creation story in Genesis were an allegory for life, the garden of Eden would be years 0-4.


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