Us and ThemApril 19, 2010 at 5:15 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop | 32 Comments
The kiddos have been stuck in the house all week. Rain, doctor’s appointments, last-minute pre-Bun projects, the snake that has taken up residence in our yard … It’s been a perfect storm transpiring against them.
So, this morning, I gauged their Tasmanian Devil–like growls, their disdain for finger painting again, the way in which they nonchalantly pummeled their beloved trains into the side of the kitchen cabinet. I turned to my husband and said, “We’ve got to get out of here.”
Cutting and Running
Yes, briefly, I contemplated the “we” being just Husband and me. But instead, we gathered up Lollipop and Giggles, velcroed on their shoes, deftly avoided tantrums about wearing jackets, stuffed animal crackers in the diaper bag, and headed out.
To get haircuts. Just the kind of thrilling excursion they needed. (Wisely, Pawpaw stayed home for some much-needed R&R.)
I’m Lovin’ It
After surviving the trauma of the shears and clippers (and cleaning out the shop’s bowl of peppermints in bribes rewards for good behavior), we headed for a real treat. McDonald’s.
OK, here’s where we could endlessly debate the merits of McDonald’s, given its nutritionally sketchy menu (those apple slices don’t fool me), smells-like-gym-socks playgrounds, and trash bag upon trash bag of cardboard and plasticware. But. My kids like it. And today, they needed, nay, deserved, something just for them. So off we went to the land of Golden Arches and trans-fat.
The Eighth Wonder of the Toddler World
They had a blast, and I tried not to cringe too much. The entire trip, I found myself having thoughts such as, “There’s no way we won’t all be running fevers tomorrow.” While my kids were no doubt thinking, “Wow, look at this amazingly shiny green window. What would it sound like if I drummed on it with my fingernails??”
I was struck by these differences. Between us and them. Adults and children. When do we become so darn practical? When do we lose our sense of unadulterated wonder at the world around us? Is it even possible to hold onto it?
Where Moms Fear to Tread
Take these examples from our afternoon excursion:
1. While camping out at our booth to wait for their meal, Lollipop and Giggles poked, prodded, pushed, and otherwise manhandled the various textures of the speckled tabletop, booth divider, plastic molding, and bench seats. In my head: “There is surely not enough Purell in all the world for this.”
2. In his haste to gulp down the chocolate milk, Giggles dropped his sippy cup on the floor. In my head: “They mop every day, they mop every day, they mop every day.”
3. Lollipop got her very own ice cream cone for dessert. (Her first solo cone!) In my head: “Stain-stick that princess dress from scalloped bodice to pearl-lined hem the moment we get home.”
4. Giggles picked up someone’s discarded receipt from the floor and made a beeline for the ketchup-and-salmonella-covered trash can. In my head: “T-minus two seconds until contamination. Must intercept child now!”
5. Lollipop called down from the very high, very yellow playground tunnel — the one she has never been brave enough to climb into before — that there was water inside. In my head: “Please, please, please let it be rain and not some strange kid’s pee.”
Never mind that Lollipop tried something new, or that Giggles tried to clean up on his own. All I could think about was germs and messes and inconveniences. I still let them explore, relish the experience. I bit my tongue and crossed my fingers. But the thoughts were there, were very much present.
I hope they were too enthralled with the paper-napkin dispenser and salt shakers to notice. Either way, they scarfed down their ice cream. And I used up our whole bottle of Purell.
How do you and your children experience the world differently? How do you strike a balance between “us” and “them”? What’s the worst fast-food playground you’ve ever visited?