We raced to the car after a trip to the park. Upon reaching her destination, Shelby turned to watch me trot up with Ana in my arms, cocked her head, raised her eyebrow and declared, "You couldn't catch me up!" Hahahaha.
It all started with the Electric Car. Well, sort of. Since watching the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car?"the other night I've been feeling rather inspired to do my part to doop those evil oil companies. So, when I scanned my dinner menu and noticed I needed a few items from the store, I chose to forgo my gas powered vehicle for a much greener alternative, the double stroller. I suited up for a late afternoon run and strutted out the door like some eco-superhero to meet my doom. I didn't make it a block before Ana started screaming. My superhero theme song came to a halt along with the double stroller and the screaming. Ana was much happier...until I tried to sit her back in her seat, whoah! So I powered on a few more blocks to a different theme song, more like a wailing siren. I got half way to the store and thought about turning around. I couldn't take the screaming, it was zapping my super powers, cramping my super style. No, I wasn't going to drive that car, I had not put on my cape and donned my eco-friendly socks for nothing. Running is impossible while holding a baby and pushing a 60 lb. double stroller one handed (I tried) so I settled for speed walking the rest of the way. Okay, I made it to the store but now BOTH my hands are occupied and I can't put anything in my cart. With a lot of persuasion and some bribery, Shelby became my super gadget arm. I was on my way to the checkout aisle, I had almost completed my quest, when shiny pink packages of gum blocked my way. "But I want gum, MOMMMYYYYYY!! I want it, I want it!" Gathering my cape with my one free hand, I bumped the stroller out of the doors in hopes of leading my screaming gadget arm safely out of the gum's way. Ka-ZAM! It worked. She was in the stroller and my superhero arms were losing strength from carrying Ana for the last half hour. I speed walked to the end of the parking lot to avoid any onlookers while I loaded the baby in the stroller. I knew the wailing theme song would begin the minute I set her down. And it did. Okay, super strength legs, get us home. FAST! Just as I rounded the last corner to our lair, my neighbor, Chatty Cathy spots us and starts in with, "Were you gone? We were wondering because we knocked on your door and you didn't answer but we noticed your car was there. So we were wondering where you....." I just smiled and said something about not being able to stop. She watched me the whole way home. Both kids were crying now and my theme song was driving me nuts! Damn this cape. I should have just taken the car.
My neighborhood is full of interesting characters I have come to know since we moved in. I think you'd like to meet them, too. There's the old guy down the street who is a habitual packrat. Rumor has it he was once a rocket scientist until he cracked up and now he collects everything from packaged Milgard windows (that collect in his driveway) to vintage luxury vehicles(that collect everywhere except his driveway). His hodgepodge house is draped in phone cords and electrical wires stapled to the siding that enter and exit various holes drilled into the "fort". I call it a fort because there are multiple surveillance cameras on every corner of the house to keep an eye on the "Free" table he piles with stuff every Sunday. He wears the same white T-shirt and shorts every day, no matter the weather, and rides around on a miniature forklift.
There's the ex-CIA guy and his wife, we refer to as "The Ambassador & The Artist". Supposedly, he keeps a small collection of human skulls in glass cases. I haven't seen them myself. She owns two houses in the neighborhood that she uses as art studios. Rotating her sleeping quarters from house to house as the mood strikes her. I often see her walking around the block in her bathrobe carrying a basket of knicknacks.
The Shooter: This guy lives around the corner and has made a name for himself blowing away neighborhood Possums with his Colt 45. I hope he has 20/20 vision...
The Classy Couple: These gentlemen live in the well kept house down the street, the one with the perfectly manicured yard, and tactful holiday decorations.
And then there's Chatty Cathy. She lives across the street with her 1 year old and I always run into her on my way out the door, already late for something. I usually get trapped in a one-sided conversation about some elementary topic like diapers or feeding schedules to which I can't get a word in edge wise. Cathy assumes everyone she talks at knows nothing. Leaving her listener the victim of countless factoids about commonplace details. I can't seem to come up with a more interesting way to describe her very uninteresting habit of discussion. Just believe me, it's boring. And then I'm really late to wherever I was going.
I've only exposed the tip of the neighborhood iceberg. Stay tuned!
When Shelby was first born I took a picture of one of her greatest "infant accomplishments". My mother said I should never have done this and that it would "scar her for life" knowing that I posted it online for friends and family to see. But, how could I resist? The angle was perfect, the trajectory was nearly 4 feet, I'd never seen newborn poop spray that far or that well aimed! When Ana was born I was smarter about removing a diaper and lifting her "dangerous end" up for too long. She could still blow out a diaper like nobody's business, but Ana definitely had her own baby talent and it had to do with the curdled rejects she spewed in copious amounts with timely precision. Last night was definitely the highlight of her infant career. Shelby has been in the habit of "loving" her baby sister whenever Ana's alone without adult defense. This time it was on the sofa, Ana was lying on her back conversing with the track lighting, Shelby cut in for some sisterly affection. Next thing I know, Shelby's squealing her over dramatic cry (the higher pitched voice, the bigger bottom lip) and turns toward me with her eyes closed. Her face is dripping in white milky fluid. "She spit up in my eye!!!!!" Unreal. Impossible. Ana is on her back in a pool of wet on the sofa cushion. I walk over to inspect as John whisks Shelby away to clean up. The baby is smiling, wet, and looks as if she's just mastered her greatest "infant accomplishment".
For the past week I have tried to convice myself that my three year old was coming down with "something". There could be no other reason for her crabby attitude, multiple timeouts before breakfast, and outright bitchiness (mostly towards me). Do toddlers get PMS, too? After additional naps, added vitamins, extra balanced nutrition I have come to grips with the truth of the matter: my daughter has become a whining little brat. A cross between Roald Dahl's Veronica Salt ("But I want the Golden Ticket, Daddy! I want it! I want it!") and a mini John McEnroe in his hey day. I recall, with humility, that day I sat in on a parent's discussion about discipline, timeouts, and restriction with children ages 2 to 4. Shelby was about 4 months shy of her third birthday, that would be referred to now as "The Glory Days". And I said, oh man, when my turn came I actually said, aloud, "I haven't had to use any discipline tactics besides asking her nicely and she obeys." The glares, the short exhales, none of it registered until now. At this particular moment, my little "angel" has escaped from her room for the third time, it's 45 minutes past her bedtime and she's crying and screaming "Mommy's meeeeeaaaaannnnnnn." If you're lucky, the "Terrible Two's" strikes early and your child won't be verbal enough to say things to you like, "You hurted my feelings!" or scream, "I hate you, you stinky girl."
I'm quite sure I'm the last person to read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Nevertheless, the concept of marketing to children, kids' focus groups, and scientists who write books about the "seven major categories" of juvenile nagging really sends a chill down my spine. Who are these people, and how do they sleep at night knowing their one job is to devise advertising schemes to further my uphill battle as an authoritative parent? What the hell?
I read this book when I was in the sixth grade. I remember nothing about it besides the fact that it addressed puberty and the awesome title. I like to use it in conversation. I have been sulking around all week since I received news that my Advertising account had been revoked. I am waiting for the Google police to knock on my door, handcuff me and haul me away to some cyberjail. "Tell my girls Momma loves 'em!" There are three types of people in the world, those who never break the rules (my mother), those who bend the rules, but never get caught, and those who break the rules and get caught EVERY F*&#$!ing time. I fall into the former category and my poor brother seems to be the poster child for the latter type. He can't drive and pick his nose without getting pulled over. I have managed to squeak by on my somewhat curved life line until Google found me. Damn them. Well, I just wanted you all to know that I now have no pulse on my online popularity. I have no idea who's reading. It's like writing with my eyes closed and hoping I don't crash into something. Please pass me on to your friends and neighbors. I will remain here in my cyberchair, writing away, waiting to see if anyone's out there.