The Best Help You Can Give Other Parents
The baby on the plane that was so tired she couldn’t make sense of where she was or what she wanted. The two toddlers, maybe one year apart, who zigzagged across the moving sidewalk between terminals. The preschooler trying to drag his baby sister and her stroller onto the baggage scale because he saw everything else go on it.
What I noticed was that I was on high alert, with Mom Ears on and Mom Voice engaged and Mom Smile at the ready. I was watching them to see that they didn’t go too far or do anything iffy when their parents were reading arrival and departure screens, or digging in bags for a toy, or showing ID to the gate attendant. A little girl made a break for the seating area just as her parents cleared the gate and started down the jet way; I sidled into her path and smiled sweetly at her until she turned and found her mother’s hand. An older infant started to squirm in her mama’s arms, made the little moue that presaged a tantrum, so I played peek-a-boo with her until she smiled, and then realized she didn’t know me and snuggled back down into her mama’s warm shoulder.
These are highlights of the texts I sent to Guy while I endured my ninth annual Fantasy Faire (this year’s theme: A Pirate’s Life for Me!). Ye gods.
- We finally won a cake at the cake walk! Daphne staked me tickets (rather, she staked me with tickets I bought for her) and we doubled down like mental patients for seven rounds. It cost like ten dollars in the end, but it’s a huge pirate ship so…win!
- I ran into Dylan’s kindergarten teacher (the one who told me 7 years ago he was the single worst behaved student she’d had in 17 years of teaching) and told her that he won the district writing fair. She didn’t have to look so pleasantly surprised. I’m still mad at her.
- We are all starving. When their dad asked early in the week if I wanted a dinner at the faire I thought he was preordering tix. Not as such.
- Dylan just came by and I asked him for two tickets for a soda. He made a show of slapping them onto the picnic table and said “GO.”Then I asked him to watch my stuff while I got it. He sighed and said, “Look. You and I both know I’m not going to watch it so why don’t I just get you one.”Two minutes later he slammed it on the table in front of me and said, “Drink up, woman!”
- Omg Daphne’s friend’s dad is dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, and he and two other guys put on a show, fencing with real swords. They just took it off the blacktop where the chairs are and chased each other onto the slide and play structure. All the kids ran after them, crowding around and cheering, and all I could think was holy fuck those are real swords and someone is going to have them arrested.
- Oh hells no, Daphne and her friends just got on this ride where they sit on stuffed, motorized animals and ride—for two laps only—around a tiny race track. I thought it was more of a ripoff until I saw how slow they go. It takes a while. I got a video of Daphne’s on a two foot tall panda, and her friends on a tiger and a bear. I do not have permission yet to post it but if I do you’ll be the first to know.
- Oh goody, just fifty minutes to go til the end. STARVING.
My son called from his room at 1:26 am, the ringing phone throwing my heart at the ceiling.
“Mom, I think I’m dying. I can’t fall asleep.” I think I’m dying, too. Of a heart attack. “I’ll be right down.”
I felt his forehead. “You’ve got a fever. I think you have what I have.” I gave him one his sister’s Tylenol her dad sent with her last night—she’d had a tooth repaired after a chip and it was sore. Oh my god, all my kids are old enough to have full-strength pain relievers. “Here, sit up and take this. It’s just the flu.”
“Did I get it from you?” he asked. I think if he’d had the strength that would have sounded almost accusatory.
“Not in the four hours you’ve been here. It takes longer than that to incubate. But thanks for thinking of me.”
I took one, too. When I woke up from a dream in which we all had fur and tails like mice and has no standing until we’d won a spar with the current tail-judo master, my neck was a girder and I was about a thousand degrees too hot. Besides, that mouse was really doing a job on my self-esteem because I couldn’t land a blow on his belly. Think Ripred from Gregor The Overlander.
On my way back to bed I heard a creak from Daphne’s bed and saw the light under her door. Oh, no. I opened up the Tylenol and shook out another pill.
Daphne was sitting up in bed, face flushed with a thousand-yard stare. Oh, goody.
“I knew it,” I said. “You didn’t look right when you went to bed.”
“Mom, I’ve been like this since midnight. I only slept two hours,”she said, as I felt her forehead.
“Yep, you’ve got it, too.” Earlier, I’d begged off from dinner out with their dad and them to celebrate Logan’s birthday. I was too glazed over to steer two tons of German engineering over the mountain pass. Hence their late-night arrival so they could wake here on Mothers Day.
I don’t think breakfast in bed is on the menu anymore. Limp, hot children maybe, but not a fresh, hot meal.
Did I mention Guy has it, too? He asked for the chocolate Hagen Daaz and a spoon as long as I was up. I handed it to him and picked up my iPad to write. I wasn’t interested in chocolate Hagen Daaz. I really must be dying.
3:40 am: the first child starts driving the porcelain bus. Just waiting to see who’s next.
Mid- hurl: “Happy—blergh—Mothers Day.”
We got Burger King for everyone tonight (it was just easier, OK?), and when Daphne opened her Whopper she said, “Mom, I got two patties! Why are there two instead of one?”
I said, “I guess it’s your lucky day.”
Ten minutes later, she announced that she had five theories as to why she received two patties in her Whopper rather than one.
About a third of the way through the second theory, I said, “Wait! Mommy’s watching Hulk smash. You’ve got to write this down. Here, you can use my laptop,” thus guaranteeing a Monday morning post.
Here we go:
The first person put a patty in the hamburger, then the next person said “I bet I can do that faster!” So then that person put another patty in the hamburger. Then a third person tried to put another patty in the hamburger but he was tackled but the other two people. Then they put the hamburger in the bag, forgetting the two patties in the hamburger and gave it to me.
The person that put the patties in my hamburger went to a Chinese restaurant and got a fortune cookie. The cookie said, “Do something weird at work tomorrow.” So the next day the person went to work and thought “My cookie did say to do something weird.” Right then he was making a hamburger and made a two pattied hamburger. So he put it in the bag and gave it to me.
There was a hobo on a bench and the person felt bad and gave the hobo some money. The hobo then walked into Walmart and got a card for the person and it read “Put twice as many patties than usual tomorrow at work, sincerely, Stanley.” So the person thought, “Oh so his name is Stanley.” The next day the person put two patties in hamburger and put it into the bag and gave it to me.
A person walked into Burger King, thinking that he worked there and then quickly said, “Wait I don’t work here!” Right then the person went home and soon came back and applied for the job there. In about two minutes he was working on making hamburgers and he thought “Its my first day” and he made a hamburger with two patties and put it in a bag and gave it to me.
A metal chicken gave a note to the person who made my hamburger, that said “Bwok” which inspired the person the make a two-pattied hamburger and put it in a bag and gave it to me.