I have a feisty, curious, indefatigable two-point-five-year-old son and he is the cutest thing EVER (ever). When we are at Starbucks or the grocery store or on the street or the potty or (insert pretty much any geographic location here that can be found on Google Maps), he often does things like:
1) conduct chem experiments with salt and pepper shakers (SO SMART!)
2) insist on drinking X beverage from a real-live totally-is-gonna-break-in-a-million-pieces glass by himself with no assistance from Mommy at all (SO INDEPENDENT!)
3) drive his trains on every available surface including Mommy’s face because apparently my ample nose is an excellent “bridge!” (SO CREATIVE!)
4) open and close pretty much anything that can possibly be opened and closed and even some things that can’t (FUTURE ENGINEER!)
5) lick the bubbles off the steamed soy milk on the end of the fifteenth straw that has not been already dropped on the floor (FUTURE BARISTA!)
Can you tell that I find all of these activities both incredibly endearing and at times (only at very rare times, really!) kind of a little bit challenging? Look, I don’t have a daughter and only the gods of sperm will know whether I ever have one or not, so I’m only speaking from my own experience parenting ONE child, but I will say this: my kid, boy or not, is absurdly active. My parents, who have just moved out to the Bay Area (SUPER YAY!) have been staying with us for the past week, and I kid you not, they are walking around with a permanent look of shock on their faces because they had two girls (me and my sister) and they JUST DON’T GET HOW THEIR GRANDSON HAS SO MUCH ENERGY. He never quits. Like, ever. And it’s quite wonderful and inspiring to watch. But it means that when we go out places (like, any places), I tend to get a LOT of comments from strangers that sound kind of like this:
1) (gasp) Oh no, he dropped his trains! (AND YOUR POINT IS?)
2) (gasp) He just ate a wipe! (UM, IT’S NOT LIKE THEY’RE TOXIC. SHEEEEEEEESH)
3) Your son just licked the entire pastry case! (PLEASE, LIKE YOU’VE NEVER DONE THAT)
4) (conspiratorially) You have coffee all over your pants. (THANKS, I DIDN’T FEEL ALL THAT WET STUFF ON MY CROTCH BUT NOW THAT YOU TOLD ME, I DO, AND I WANT TO CHANGE MY JEANS EVEN MORE EXCEPT OH WAIT, I DON’T AS A GENERAL RULE CARRY EXTRA PANTS WITH ME SO BEFORE YOU SAID ANYTHING, I WAS SCREWED, BUT NOW I FEEL SCREWED AND ALSO SAD.)
Just the other night at a burger restaurant, we were sharing a communal table with another family, and they had a 3-year-old girl with them. She was daintily eating her burger and fries when my sweet kiddo, in the middle of a complex train-coloring-water-drinking joint venture, spilled his water all over the table (and partly on my lap). The mom of the dainty 3-year-old girl gasped as she glanced over at our end of the table and exclaimed, “He just spilled his water everywhere!!”. I looked over at her and took in her shocked expression, totally confused by her outsized reaction. She has a toddler herself, was all I could think. Surely she knows that spilled water — or spilled anything, for that matter – is a daily occurrence like eating, or, I don’t know, flossing or finding play doh in your bed. It’s inevitable. It’s not note-worthy. It just means I need a couple of napkins which I wish I had permanently attached to my limbs. (Frankly, I’m still befuddled by this woman’s reaction. I mean I suppose it’s possible that her pigtailed cutie is so compliant and truly genetically dainty that this woman just has no idea what it’s like when water gets spilled for the fortieth time. If that’s the case, good for her. Kind of).
Of course, all of these people — dainty mom included – with their peanut-gallery comments are just trying to be helpful. I know they aren’t telling me about the spilled stuff to judge me or make fun of me – they see a frazzled mom and just want to be good Samaritan-y. That’s why I really don’t mind, because I know the comments are coming from a well-meaning place. But what I do mind is that I NEVER, EVER have an effortlessly witty but still apt response at my fingertips. I usually just mutter a quick “thanks” or shake my head and ruefully mumble “toddlers.” But I’d love to have a catchy one-liner at the ready the next time somebody tells me that there’s muffin in my hair. Like:
I KNOW BUT YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW BAD I HAVE TO PEE RIGHT NOW.
MUFFIN? THAT SOUNDS YUMMY. WHAT FLAVOR?
I LOVE BEING A MOMMY.
FRICK! MUFFIN??? ARE YOU G-DAMN KIDDING ME? WHAT THE HELL AM I GONNA DO NOW?
What do you say in these situations? I’d love to hear!
Oh, and PS. Your kid just ate paint.