I never thought I would be one of those moms whose kids hauled around a "lovey". I'm barely motivated enough to include the kids themselves when we go places. When they were infants, my kids had pacifiers long enough for me to realize that it was my job to re-cork them when the stopper fell out of their mouths. I'd rather listen to them cry.
When it comes to a certain stanky kitty, however, Thing Two was the creative mind behind that acquisition. She used to only want it when she was sleeping. At four months old, she could deftly reach behind her head while lying in her crib, grab Stanky Kitty, and give it 1 1/2 turns on the way to her face so that she could suck its ass and her thumb at the same time. And I, with smug satisfaction, would tell the moms at the park that we "only let her have it when she's sleeping." Who am I kidding with that fantasy?
Of course, Stanky Kitty wasn't always stanky. An acquaintance gave it to Thing Two the day after she was born, and the kitty shone with all its orange, furry, unmolested luminescence. After 18 months of being dragged to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one surely non-consensual date night with the dog, however, Stanky Kitty is...well...not clean.
The night we came home and found that Stanky Kitty and the dog had eloped was a sad affair. We came home, saw Lenny the dog sitting on the couch looking beat and smoking a Pall Mall, and Stanky Kitty's fur, clothing, and bodily fluids scattered all over the house. No one in our house can sew. Not even Thing One. So Pete valiantly tied Stanky Kitty off at the torso and each limb with a piece of string and put her to bed with Thing Two to talk girl talk.
Yesterday I took Thing One and Thing Two to the play place outside JcPenny at the mall. We call it the flu pen, but what are ya' gonna do when there are at least 8 more weeks of winter and you live in a 1300 square foot house? Stanky Kitty and the kids played until they were wiped, at which time I proudly ushered them toward the mall exit so we could go home and make dinner and I could announce to Pete that, although we did go to the mall, I hadn't spent a dime.
We go back to the flu pen, looking at the floor the entire way for an orange dirty mess. Nothing. Well, at least we didn't have to go back into 15 different stores like when we lost the keys (two weeks ago) while looking for replacement mittens for Thing Two (seriously, what retailer in Minne-fricken-sota quits selling mittens in mid-February???).
No, we don't have to go back into 15 stores. We have to stop by everystinking cell phone booth and South American hoodie/jewelry/wool sweater/Crocs kiosk in the whole damn place to see if someone happened to take pity on us and turn in a Stanky Kitty.
With no luck.
The kids are starting to get mean. Pete has likely arrived home from work to find an empty house to go along with his empty stomach, so I call him and tell him to make himself a sandwich--we are going to split a Subway and look for kitty.
His reply? "Nice one." I don't think he thought through the potential hazards of that comment.
We go back over every inch of the mall again. Back to the flu pen, where I shrilly ask all the moms to get up and see if there is a stuffed kitten below them.
To Bath and Body Works. No one has turned in a stuffed kitty.
"Be careful," says the cashier.
"Oh, I'm sure we'll find it."
"No, be careful, that's.............(shattering sound to the left of us at the end of Thing Two's stubby little tuna-fish-Subway hand) glass."
Fortunately, nothing broke. As I bent to pick up little bottles and trinkets, the cashier and her helper guided us out the door gently but emphatically. "Really, we'll get it. We just want you and your ragged monsters out of our store."
Once more through the mall, with no kitty in sight. By this time, Thing Two has realized that the damned thing is gone and is calling for her:
"Here tittytittytitty. Here tittytittytitty. Titty, are you??? Dere shees."
"SHE IS??? WHERE?"
Nope, Thing Two is simply on an audio loop now. "Here tittytittytitty. Here tittytyittytitty. Titty, are you? Dere shees."
I wish I had a pacifier to stuff in Thing Two's mouth, because I'm pretty sure the tuna-fish Subway is scattered on the floor with various sundry at Bath and Body Works.
On our third trip back to the flu pen, Thing One chose to surf on his portion of the double stroller. I don't even care--I tell him to look high for Stanky Kitty.
I apathetically notice an ancient janitor cleaning up what looks to be tuna-fish and American cheese off the floor across from Bath and Body Works. I turn around so he doesn't notice my tuna-covered kids, only to be faced with two Bath and Body Works staffers with their arms crossed in front of their aprons.
Damn! I'm cornered.There's nowhere to go.
I turn back to the janitor and weakly ask him if he has seen an orange stuffed kitty on the floor, wondering at the same time if the state has mental health beds available for scrappy, sleepless toddlers.
"A ratty one with no bottom?" He asks.
Sweet. Mother. Of. Jesus.
"Yes. Nasty old kitty, have you maybe seen it?" I'm crying now.
Without blinking, he dives head-first into the garbage bag part of his supply cart. After some grunting and stirring, he produces...
that thing which will allow me to breath again.
"Stanky Kitty!!!!" screams Thing One.
I hugged the janitor, possibly for a little too long. Wiped my tears. Wiped a little goo off Stanky Kitty, and gave her to Thing Two.
Who immediately stuck what used to be the ass in her mouth.
I remember the blessed days when she nursed, slept, nursed, slept, and then watched contentedly from that rock-ee thing in the corner. Now she goes everywhere tummy-first, propelled by her elbows and her sass.
Today, she twisted my nose harder than my mean uncle ever did. I didn't think I was going to break loose.
She's an independent, this girl, that's for sure. Today she spent 45 minutes methodically trying to stuff her big, orange, smelly kitty into the shape sorter. When she finally got frustrated, she came over and bit me with that snaggle-tooth. So I put her in the corner, just because I can tell I'm going to need the practice. She ran after me all-not to be sexist-girly and crying real tears just because I bellowed, "YEOWWWWWWWWWWWW! NOOOOOO BITING!!!!" Then she grinned and bit me again.
We know when she's done eating because she gives us the baby sign-the one that looks just like dumping a half-full bowl of pasta/soup/goopy/sticky whatever over her head-and states, "Igetdooowwnnowah."
"Do you want to get down, Thing Two?"
"Do you want to get down?"
Jesus, that's hilarious--I could do that for hours.
Last Saturday, Pete took the day off of work so that I could travel to Duluth for a little me time. Granted, it was for a last kiss to a dear, dear friend at her wake, but hey--kidless is kidless, right??
On the drive back, I had a lot of time to think about how lucky I was that Pete can handle two kids all day by himself without whining or complaining, and how he was probably going mental right there on the spot with all the taking of Thing Two off the dining room table and the explaining to Thing One why he cannot take the hair dryer into the bathtub for water play. I thought about how he is not used to spending the whole day with two kids, how frazzled his nerves must be, and how he would sure appreciate a break when I waltzed into the door all fresh-faced and armed with silly kid-rhymes to save the day.
So I stopped at the outlet mall.
My first 45 minutes in The Gap were spent fielding generous offers from perky headsetted twenty-somethings to "start a room for me," "help me find a top for that," or "help me find something I like". Satiated with a pair of black fleece bottoms, a long-sleeved crew, and a pair of funky tights for Thing Two, I entered the black hole of the cashier's area. As I worked my way through the two hundred-foot roped-off maze intended to safely and methodically funnel all of the shoppers (me) to the next available cashier, I passed a headset attached to a gum-chewing face and a clipboard. The gum bobbed up and down in thin air as the headset stared blankly at me and spoke, "Um, Lindsay, could you hop up on a register for me real quick please?" I think of those creepy Stepford Wives and another headset materializes before me, the only difference being the color of the layering cami she was wearing. Lindsay, I presume.
It started benignly enough. "Did you find everything you needed?" Lindsay asked the register.
"Yup. Aren't these the cutest little tights?"
And then it happened. Lindsay spoke the word which I was to quickly learn she had spent her late teens/early twenties perfecting. She wrapped those thin lips around it and tilted her head so that the word floated my way almost effortlessly.
"Oh these tights are just so cute," I labored, already, unfairly, annoyed with Lindsay.
Then silence as Lindsay did her thang with the tags and the register.
But I couldn't stand it. Partly to make small-talk and partly because I hadn't peed in about 2 hours, which was about an hour and 50 minutes longer than is normally comfortable for me, I asked if there was a bathroom in the store.
"A bathroom," I said a little more quietly.
I saw a spark from the top of Lindsay's headset.
"In the store? A bathroom?" I asked.
"Oh!! No, no bathroom in the store." She shot a we got a live one look at the gum-chewing headset and went about ringing me up.
Lest she forget about me, I piped up again.
"You have the prettiest red hair."
Am I on freakin' Candid Camera?
"Nevermind," I mutter. She's giving me the look that I got from fat Lance Fareman in the first grade, when I was making those noises with my mouth closed, thinking no one could hear me. Yup. She thinks I'm weird.
"I think your hair is so pretty. You probably get that all the time."
"Oh, huyeah, I kinda do."
Almost done. Just one more thing from Lindsay.
"Would you like to save $15 off your Gap purchase today by opening a Gap credit account?"
"Would you like to save $15 off your Gap purchase by opening a Gap credit account?"
"Oh, no thanks."
"Have a great day and thanks for shopping at Gap," Lindsay twitched.
I've been working on a sketch every morning for weeks now which would explain pictorially where I've been for the last, um, season. Infuriatingly, even if you put pants or triangle dresses on stick figures, it's really tricky to bring them to life and tell the true story of a mom who went to Babies-R-Us and bought four baby gates, enclosed herself inside with 45 consecutive issues of the New Yorker, and let her kids spend the winter poking at her with a stick.
The other day I was reading one of those child development wheels--you know the ones that are supposed to tell you whether or not your children are acting normal at any given age from birth to three--and Thing One asked me what I was reading.
"Oh, just a card that tells me some things that Thing Two can do now, like take off her shoes without mom and dad's help, or say a bunch of words..."
"Or climb on the table with no one's help again and again and never get down ever?"
"Yup, that's about right."
So that has taken up some time. Also, we joined the YMCA. I've always been a sort of ten days on eight months off kind of gal when it comes to exercise, but the Y has worked out really well for us. You see, the Y offers free child care while you are working out, up to two hours a day. TWO HOURS A DAY, PEOPLE!!!! As Thing One would say, "That feels me really happy."
My intention was to drop the kids off and go sleep in the sauna without actually lifting a finger, but there was a draft in there that kind of stressed me out. So I went to the front desk and asked for directions to the cafeteria. Nothin. Then I tried just sitting in the lobby chairs with the old guys, but I couldn't stand the "are-you-seriously-just-going-to-sit-there?" looks.
So now I work out. "You look great," a friend said the other day, "Are you working out?"
"Well, sort of. I think it's more that I'm dumping my kids on someone else at the most stressful time of the day several times a week, though."
And lifting a giggling, wiggling, 25 pounds of snaggle-toothed girl off the dining room table two thousand times a day. 100 sets of 20. You know, for my core.