A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: animals

Life as Pictures: holiday weekend edition

I went into Thanksgiving this year knowing it would be harder than most years, but I don’t want to immortalize what will inevitably be an undercurrent for a long time still. Leading up to the holiday I toyed more seriously with the idea of walking our town’s charity 5K with the kids. This is a tradition I hope to start in the coming years; each year I inch closer to taking the plunge. I don’t get my hold-up; I can walk a 5K easily, and the kids would be fine. I suppose it was a bit helter skelter this year; too much going on. I emailed the group organizing the race a couple days prior with some key questions…some more of a barrier than others. Although it seems I can just show up with my motley crew, there was a brief note of the course description that had me wonder if I could maneuver a stroller. It’s a turkey trot, so I probably could; but I read into the lack of response as a sign that this year would not be the year. And, really, I was already feeling overwhelmed as the weeks blurred by. Generally, when I feel stuck in angsty ruts, I create a new task for myself that allows me lift others in some way. This approach definitely improves my sprits to varying degrees, but at some point adding more tasks to manage is exclusively madness destined to be withheld until a better time. I experienced an irrational amount of guilt declining; life is short and unpredictable, and a bunch of what ifs flood in…What if I never have the opportunity again…madness.

Self-preservation aside, there is a simple fact heading into any day with no outing; Little Man NEEDS to exit our home in some fashion sometime during the morning, or anyone in a vague radius will want to rip their face off experiencing his destructive enthusiasm. I needed some fresh air too before cooking, so as a lowly duo, we set out for a walk around the neighborhood; and it was perfect.

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It’s a fairly large neighborhood for the area…many families in various stages of children. As a child nowhere remotely close to this area, I remember kids outside all the time; but maybe not. I often expect more bustle for some inexplicable reason. It was a quiet morning on the early side before a food-for-all; I’m not sure why I expected more kids around. Maybe because it’s one of the last remaining tolerably warmer days a few wisps above freezing. November is my favorite month; this year that sentiment virtually escaped me even as I tried to remind myself of that paltry fact. But, starting down our street a ways with some of the color still contrasting with a clear sky, I took a deep breath, filling my chest with a month’s worth of brisk fresh air at a glorious time of year.

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This is supposed to be a drainage ditch, but over the years the surrounding woods began reclaiming it…probably not a good thing in terms of flooding. I don’t have a single iota of how these structures function, but I’m fairly certain it’s not for little men to find fantastic sticks purposed for whacking dried plant debris.

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Eventually Mr. Man returned to me…jarring me out of my thoughts that were separate from his hushed leaf crunching and imaginative chattering. I couldn’t see him, but his sounds were reminiscent of fantasy stories depicting the whispers of small, winged pixies out to do mischief on those who trespass. When he emerged from the woods, he was so proud of his stick that stretched beyond his height. It was, in fact, a very good stick that merited Mr. Man’s chosen adjective for the day. From his first waking hours, dazzling things were “delightful” to him.

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The end of the stick. We were barely acquainted, yet it felt like family…entertaining my son for a whole ten minutes. It didn’t even have the opportunity to destroy something or injure someone before I would snatch it mid power struggle. Be well and at peace, dear stick.

 

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What is it about children who are perpetual furnaces? Little Man kept his hat on for twenty minutes before asking me to hold it for him. He refused it until I explained that his ears were bright red. He allowed me to jam it back on, which prompted periodic commentary about red ears and the need for hats.

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My husband is usually the one to take Little Man outside. I’m not sure what they do; usually I’m told in some form, but I often don’t pay attention. My son had a great time; end of story for me.

We kept walking. I used to distance run before injuries became more of a rule than they should otherwise be. I knew the terrain; Mr. Man eventually did not. We were embarking in an area where roosters can be heard from the road…because people in my town love their fresh eggs…or whatever. Why does any suburbanite willfully choose to house chickens? But, chickens are a top fav of Mr. Man, and the journey did not disappoint.

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A boy and his puddle, although this sucker should really be called a lake. Eventually I managed to move Little Man along, priding myself that he refrained from stomping through it like I asked.

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He didn’t romp through this one either, maybe because the surface ice was more distracting than the liquid underneath. I’ve leaned with Mr. Man that things are a progression. Rocks broke through the solid surface of this particular puddle. Copious questions about the physics of ice…and frozen pipes in the event that water remains in them through the winter…because my son is curious about pretty much everything. Smaller, more shallow future puddles tested his body weight before we continued on our journey. As we walked he continued to prattle on about pipes…water heaters…steam pistons…all things I have no clue about, but apparently he does.

Eventually the lure of puddle storming became too much for my three-and-a-half-year-old. For the last bit of our walk he was soaked, but to his credit he did not complain. That said, things were no longer “delightful.” Our traipsing was an hour-and-a-half, and, wet socks and shoes aside with a smattering of annoyed reprimands on my part, was still absolutely perfect. The memory didn’t even diminish when I realized on our driveway that I dropped his hat somewhere along the way. Well, immediately the memory was diminished, but looking through the pictures after my shower, I returned to the realm of “absolutely perfect.”

The Thanksgiving meal ran uneventfully; I figured it would. By the evening I was formulating the game plan for the following day. We live in close proximity to various farms and wildlife preserves. I saw news of a festival of sorts at one farm that we’ve attended on the rare occasion. It’s pricey by itself, and claiming the drastically reduced tickets housed at our local library is a pain. But, the “Black Friday” deal for the morning had me sold predicting a nice day to be outdoors.

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What nightmares are made of. How can ANYONE in their right mind gaze upon these animals who are clearly plotting human demise and think, “Now, that’s a fantastic pet!”?
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I don’t care how clever his proposed names are, it’s all fun and games until one of those little bastards pecks at his finger.

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I should probably be embarrassed by this, but I always assumed cows were a certain size. This bad boy…girl(?) was enormous, and I simply was not expecting it. It wasn’t just the height that had me, everything about this animal was massive. I never pictured cows on the scale of a schnauzer or anything, but I figured I could at least look one in the eye. As is, I was tushie level, so you know where I made a point to stand…I need no help in the poop exposure department, and my kids could easily give this heifer a run for her money.

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Warrior Queen was in a constant state of “go” throughout this entire journey…not unusual during outings, but she was particularly exuberant on this beautiful fall day among the animals and open landscape.

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It’s funny, Warrior Queen is like her brother on this front; she’s usually pretty indifferent to animals. I’m starting to figure that I have something to do with it. Try not to judge me.

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My parents were delighted that the eighteen-month-old Warrior Queen was saying, “Moo,” while visiting the cows…until literally EVERY animal was saying, “Moo.”

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The remaining pieces of the weekend were an unremarkable fizzle, but even unremarkable states of parenthood are a blur. It’s comforting for me knowing that as I trod through the frenzied days leading to and stretching through this particular weekend, I will have the imperfect kindness of my memory’s reflections…and a few scampering cherub photos buried with my olfactory recollection of these specific late autumn days…complimented by truly horrifying chickens.

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Growing Relief

It’s always interesting to me that big events are buried among mundane daily experiences…easily forgotten if it weren’t for a conscious effort to immortalize them. We went to a small localish fair that included a petting zoo today. Usually such things are more appealing in theory, but this one was pretty swanky. There were oodles of chickens my son adored. Some had rather interesting head feather assortments that reminded me of my high school freshmen existence before I understood the purpose of gel and allowing thick curly hair to remain thick and curly.

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(The Mama Load clearly knew me in high school.)

There was a mighty handsome turkey looking for a hook-up…all plumage and boisterous gobbles.

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(I bet you’re hard pressed to consider any other fowl with greater sex appeal…)

There were couple meandering goats within the small pen bumping into confused roaming children…a pony, some rabbits, ducks, and a pig. Hard to deny a good time had by all, and generally I’m a profound fan of any attraction that entertains a three-year-old Mr. Man.

I was wearing Warrior Queen. Currently, she lacks the gumption to walk…rather indifferent to cruising around furniture, but she is an ambitious crawler, so there’s that. I consider this stage of babydom annoying for outings. Warrior Queen isn’t quite mobile enough to be part of outdoor gallivants and some indoor diversions, but she isn’t the portable lump of last year either.

The site of this fair included an impressive playground. Warrior Queen isn’t old or sturdy enough to enjoy anything but the swings, but at least I had a few minutes to rest my shoulders. My fierce sprite loves a swing almost as much as her brother. But, to be fair, I don’t think anyone has a passion for swings like he. Most occasions it doesn’t matter how fabulous the surroundings for this exceptionally active toddler, often he wants to be pushed for forty-five minutes before going home. Warrior Queen enjoys the wind in her hair and the thrill of the pendulum, but unless the swing includes a snuggle on my lap with her gripping my shirt, she tires of the experience within ten minutes.

Surprisingly, we remained at the fair for an hour, Little Man trotting about with me and my husband maneuvering behind him. My son enjoying a shoulder ride on Daddy while returning to the car. I wasn’t even sweaty once I buckled into the passenger seat of my car…It was perfect!

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(That amount of moisture including an impressive amount of boob sweat is hot, right Daily Mail?)

Returning home I attempted to wait on my son’s bath until after Warrior Queen was fed…no such luck. Immediately upon entering the house, Little Man made his way to the upstairs bathroom, efficiently dropping trough in his procession. My husband was planning to mow the lawn, but there is no arguing with the pre-trantrum of a little boy in desperate need to shed petting zoo funk. Mild spritzing rain outside hinted at foiling my husband’s effort at exterior maintenance anyway.

I’ve been telling anyone who asks that I plan to have Little Man go to high school in diapers. It becomes an awkward joke because I’m not entirely kidding. There have been marvelous technological advances in adult diapers of late, and the prospect of potty training terrifies me.

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(Diapersamerica.com agrees such a thing is totally reasonable and would in no way cramp my son’s emerging adulthood style.)

Generally, I see the process of potty training as a development milestone, rather than me formally and hard core teaching my children to use a toilet. So, per discussions with my children’s physician, we have a plan to include unpressured offers to use the potty periodically or enter the restroom for his required privacy while pooping. But, such actions are more about planting a potty option seed in my son’s brain than formally training him to use the toilet. And, really, there is no rush. In my state it is against the law to require children be potty trained to attend school…either private or public. The belief behind this mandate is that there is no way to determine if the continued need for diapers is due to a special need/disability. Depriving a child of their education for an inability to use restroom facilities is considered a discriminatory practice.

It, however, doesn’t matter my rationale. In increasing frequency I’ve been on the receiving end of judgment by family elders regarding my potty training approach. Apparently, if I don’t get on the stick immediately, my son will be ten-years-old, and still in diapers. But, family pressure aside, my friends with threeishish-year-olds are getting their heads in the game, which provides its own unnecessary guilt ridden head trip. Fortunately…or unfortunately…my son hasn’t had much interest in the potty…until today. Big Little Man used the potty for the first time scant hours ago. My husband following my son up the stairs for his post fair bath was asked to use the potty. For the past couple months or so my son declined when asked. Even on the rare occasion when he’s agreed to sit on our custom seated toddler throne, he’s never actually accomplished anything. But, today was the day! After his bath, my growing boy entered our multipurpose playroom beaming and telling me, “Daddy hold my peanuts.” He was so proud…apparently he hasn’t quite grasped that he needs to push down his junk when using the potty, but it seems Mommy has some new work cut out for her…decidedly before high school.

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(National Retail Federation knows how to celebrate an official first toilet use!)

Days Unlike Any Other

Today was one of those days that reinforces and allows me to value all the days spent with my son.  An unusually warm day for November begs for us to visit a local apple orchard before any thought of remaining outside for more than necessary becomes a notion of the insane.  Driving up we were greeted by signs informing us that all the apples have been depleted, which pleased me.  We’ve met the owners of this particular orchard and it’s comforting they had such a good season.  Often things still had some movement closer to Thanksgiving.  We parked as the solitary vehicle in the grassy lot, and walked to the grounds.  Further signage informed us the store is now closed on Mondays.  None of this mattered, of course, our purpose was to visit the animals that are available all year.

Usually when we spend time at this particular farm, it is packed with families seeking the overrated cider donuts that, I’m sorry, pale to any Dunkin’ Donuts variety…even jelly.  Yet, because these are fancy shmancy donuts, they merit triple the price…all the better the store is closed…one less argument from the little man.

Today, however, it was only us, which surrounded me with an eerie sensation walking to the goats…my son’s favorite.  I set him down, and he begins his eighteen-month-old toddler run that alludes to a catastrophic fall for anyone with fully developed bones.  Alas, my son reaches the goat pen unscathed, trotting back and forth in search of one of their many housed in the enclosure.  It took a moment before I realized they were all lounging up high at the top of the bridge structure, basking in the remaining comfortable days of the season.  Fortunately, a couple spied my little man and meandered their way to the fence, probably hoping for food pellets.  Delighted, Little man thrusts his hand at a short white tolerant goat, patting his nose.  Mr. Man did not appreciate the goat returning the greeting with a tongue swipe on his delicate digits.  My son retracted his hand, nursing it like a wounded soldier and looking at me with pleading eyes.  Realizing I was unsympathetic to wet fingers, he moved on to the other goats congregating a little further along the perimeter.  Some goats preferred to remain in the sun, but more began their migration in the direction of their only visitors.  My son was thrilled.

Following the complete length of the fence, Little Man discovered the sheep, which did not hold the same interest for him.  He did, however, want me to hold him, repeatedly requesting that I sing the partial lyrics to, “Baa, Baa Black Sheep.”  This is what I can expect from spontaneity and seclusion…random nursery tunes that I don’t realize are incomplete in my memory until midway through.  Fortunately my son doesn’t care; he just enjoys the effort.

It was in my arms that he noticed the chicken coop.  The determined pointer made an appearance, so we moseyed our way to visit the two eye level enclosures holding a couple of roosters and a whole mess of hens who didn’t seem to approve of the masculine addition to the atmosphere.  Mr. Man, however, was entranced and decided the rooster aggressively charging his coop-mates around in circles was his favorite…I figure he appreciates any living entity partial to chases…

The rooster had quite a bit to say, hovering in front of my son, likely throwing insults in chicken-tongue akin to what one would hear in individual cars marooned in traffic.  My son was captivated with the clucks of the rooster, fervently signing, “more,” while whacking me in the face.  At that point, the rooster turned an about face, displaying his hindquarters so there would be no mistake what he thought of my son’s joviality.

Finally, we visited the pigs who clearly appreciated the quiet.  I had never seen them roaming about with the crowds present, choosing instead to sleep in their themed, Three Little Pigs houses.  With only the two of us present, all three greeted us with excited snorts, but my son liked my snorts the best.  I released him to the ground, and he subsequently jammed his finger through the fencing, picking the nose of one of the pigs who embraced such a gesture as one of intimate friendship…or the pig had something lodged up his snout and thought this was likely the soonest opportunity to experience relief…

We remained at the orchard in solitude for thirty minutes before my son exhibited his trademark, “farewell,” wave consuming five minutes of continuous spastic motion, only completely ceasing once we returned to the car.  We headed to a nearby local café for lunch; one of the few commercial establishments in the town that is totally overpriced, but it is a local business owner who designed well appreciated effects to the physical plant for those of us accompanied by small humans.  Mr. Man murdered a twelve ounce chocolate milk and stole some of the home fries off my plate.  By the time we began our journey home, my son was covered with remnants of our adventure.  I was left with quiet musings of each moment, hoping they will be immortalized for easy retrieval when my son no longer takes interest in the novelty of the world or my company.

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