Wacky Wednesday is what B's preschool teacher calls it. I call it pizza day and relish in the not packing a lunch. I don't typically cook dinner on Wednesdays either but that is beside the point. I dropped B off at preschool and his teacher greeted him with a hug as usual. He sprayed her with his fire hose and we talked about how it might be getting too warm for our fire chief jacket and helmet.
It's easier to get out of the house in the morning if we pretend there is a fire at preschool. When we get out of the car, B grabs the fire hose, located by my gas tank. Before that though he has to shut the door by himself. Has to or there is a tantrum. I'm nervous in this every instant and please be careful of fingers and head and mommy just has to help you. Once we get into preschool we need to get to pretend the fire is in the classroom and we have to get down the hall quickly.
I hate all of this rushing towards danger.
I hate leaving him at preschool. But it's what I do because on Monday Wednesday and Friday I then take the baby home and try to work write clean cook fold laundry wash laundry get groceries step on cheerios and feed the baby until we pick B up. But this Wednesday, W had his 9 month appointment yesterday and after the fire was out at preschool, there was time to kill.
I hate phrases like this is killing me and shoot me an email.
I never have extra time like that.
I quickly grabbed some random stuff that I did or didn't need and realized we had to boogy. I got in line and was behind a woman with a cart full of junk, slowly placing each item on that black thing that transports the stuff to the register. Is that a conveyer belt? It's crazy how much stuff I feel like I don't know.
I can't answer all of the why questions very well.
There were a few people in back of me and the woman behind the register told us that the woman at the service desk could also help. I started to back up as the people behind me headed to the service desk. My father always used to tell me not to let people cut me in line just because I am short. I asked if I could pay first because I was next in line and the baby has a doctors appointment. The people stayed in line and I walked to the desk. We were all nice about it. The woman behind the desk was someone that also is a cashier at Stop and Shop. She was reading a receipt to the right of her register and I was shifting side to side. The register was in a corner desk sort of spot. It took about a minute before she turned left but didn't look at me.
Left and right have been easier to explain than time.
It was a few moments after that I said, "Hi. How are you?" and waited what seemed like an eternity before she looked at me and said, "Good." And in that time my eyes started to fill up with tears and I didn't really know why. She turned back to the register and began typing numbers from the receipt. I hoped she'd give me a sense of when she would be able to help me pay and I glanced at the clock and got nervous about parking at the hospital. The parking garage is always under construction and I hat being late. "I'm just going to have to go," I said and allowed the tears to stream as I walked out into the sun and got baby and me into the car.
The doctor's appointment was great. When I wake up in the morning with the baby to my left our eyes meet and he makes sounds and I say, "I love you." I once wrote a poem about B's eyes. They are one of my favorite parts about him.
When we picked the fire chief at preschool Miss Liz said "He might have an early bedtime. He just rested at nap time." She also took the small blue plastic hammer out of his cubby and then kneeled down to where B was basically trying to climb into the carseat with his brother. "Do we use the hammer on our friends?" she asked.
"No" he said.
Treating each other nicely is harder to explain than time.
I knew it was a bad idea but then we drove by the spot where we had discussed the broken down ice cream truck the day before. On Tuesday, the policeman was there with his lights on and the traffic was terrible and the baby was screaming. "The policeman came to help the ice cream truck?"
"Yup. Police Officers are helpers."
But now it wasn't good that the policeman had helped the ice cream truck and that as we had discussed, the truck probably got towed away. B was sad the ice cream truck wasn't there and fixed. I knew it was a bad idea but I told him we'd get an ice cream. And we went to the Dairy Queen because it is on our way. The line was more than the length of one parking spot. Baby was asleep in his carseat and I was nervous he'd be overheating (rational or irrational?). The boy in front of us heard Ben refer to a truck as a train and not even just a train but something he called by some specific subset of train that I had not heard.
"It was a truck. Not a train," the boy said.
I asked the kid if he was excited about his ice cream and if he used to like to pretend when he was young. As we moved a bit closer he grew more friendly. David. His mom was in the consignment store nearby. He is 12. Lives in the next town over. Asked where we live. Asked when B will be 4. Asked how high B could count.
Asked "how old is the small one?"
At one point he put the tip of his finger on my preschooler's cheek and my hand didn't reach his in time. As we got to be about five people away B said, "Watch this," and jumped kind of crazy, landing on the ground. David asked if B knew how to do a split. "You take this part of you," he said, cupping his penis, "and put it down with your legs like this."
I held my boy's hand. I have nothing against him learning to do a split.
"The parking lot has tons of tinies on it." I gripped B's hand a little and pulled him up. His armpit stretched a little.
"Tinies." David said. "You mean, like, germs?"
He put his finger on B's cheek.
"Isn't that cute, you have little nicknames for things."
Finally. "Can I help the next person?"
I was thinking about the 12 year old's mother, nearby in the consignment store.
"David, please take your finger off his cheek and get your ice cream."
It had been a bad idea. Not even because it was the first time I had to pick up the cup of vanilla and scoop a small amount of earth off the top. Not even because I forgot B needs to open the door by himself. Not even because of the weird encounter.
Later, there were timeouts. There was kicking. There was the small object taunting me near the baby's eye. There were tears and more timeouts. There were hugs and two minute warnings. There was me. I just want you to be my nice boy. And that night after the ice cream and the fire chief costume and the sweet potato fries there was a naked toddler. Exhausted, overstimulated. Not nice in a way that is hard for me to write about.
I almost cried like I had earlier, when I left the store rushing to the doctor's appointment. I was nice to that woman but my own anxiety had the best of me.
And so, the day ended and what I have been thinking about since then is this: I think that what is really so scary about parenthood, for me, is that it seems like everything I hate about myself and about the world is looking up at me through my own eyes.