We had to evacuate our house on Saturday. Okay, it wasn’t quite as dramatic as it sounds. Our realtors wanted to stage the house and take some photos. And they wanted to do it ALONE. Apparently, they felt that we would get underfoot. And break their stuff. (Yes and yes.)
So, what do you do with a one-year-old and four-year-old when you have to be out of the house for the bulk of the day. In February. With a blizzard on the way . . .? The obvious: head to a children’s museum that is fifty miles away. Done and done.
We were a little bit late getting out of the house. But by around 9:15, we had all piled into the car. Along with about THIRTY-SEVEN bags. Ah, daytripping with children. Also known as short hauling half of the contents of your home to some kid-friendly destination and back.
Emma, our one-year-old, was dog tired. Poor little girl had been up since 4:45am. (WHY are we always waking her up so early?? Oh right . . .) For the first fifteen minutes of the trip, she demanded that I show her every single toy in the toy bag. And rejected each one. Satisfied with a job well done, she fell fast asleep.
Jacob, our four-year-old, did not. Instead, he spent the first half-an-hour singing his version of “Let It Go”. (Curse you “Frozen” sound track). “Let it GOOOOO. Let it GOOOOO. Don’t hold it in anymoooore”. Those are not exactly the lyrics. (Though Jacob insists they are.) So, I ask you: was he channeling a self-actualizing snow princess? Or a four-year-old who is about to have a potty accident? (You decide.)
After Jacob got tired of being Elsa, he started telling us about God. Jacob has all sorts of ideas about God now, thanks to a little boy in his preschool. (This is, of course, exactly how we hoped he would learn about God and all existential things.) Jacob loves to share this information. Particularly with me and his father. If you look at our faces during these discussions you would think he was talking about going skydiving. Or asking where babies come from. Because we inevitably have a stunned expression. And our mouths are moving but no sound is coming out. At least no intelligible sound. Jacob presses on cheerfully.
Jacob: I know that God makes the weather.
Me: Really? Who told you this?
Me: Well, Jacob, people have different ideas about where the weather comes from. Some people believe that God controls the weather. But others understand that there are weather systems . . .
What followed was rambling and incoherent. And, frankly, if I were a four and had to listen to it, I would have thrown my lot in with Richard. And the God thing. Suffice to say, I tried to offer a scientific perspective.
Jacob: Okay, but I know that God decides where to put the sun. There isn’t any sun out today, so I think God put it . . . in a forest somewhere!
Have I mentioned that my husband Dan is an atheist? I am not an atheist but I also don’t see God as a grand puppeteer. And I also believe in science. Anyway, this conversation happened when we were on our way to the Children’s Museum. For a day of fun. And making kid-sized bubbles in the bubble room. And playing in pretend airplanes. And exposing ourselves to the germs incubated by children in an entirely different city. All sorts of things you EXPECT from a day at the Children’s Museum. I hadn’t prepared for the crash course in preschool theology.
In any event, we have one other thing to thank Jacob’s little friend for. Apparently, Richard has been singing a song at preschool over and over and over again. And the song got stuck in Jacob’s head. And that is what Jacob sang for the remainder of the trip.
“Oh, you better watch out. You better not shout. You better not shout, I’m tellin’ you why. SAAAAANTA CLAUS is comin’ to town. SAAAANTA CLAUS is comin’ to town. He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been good or bad so you better be good. Goodness sake!”
Okay, again, not exactly the lyrics. But that aside, given that it is now FEBRUARY, I kind of thought we were beyond this sort of little ditty for at least for the next NINE MONTHS. Also, I find it amusing that Jacob omitted the line about pouting. Considering it is his signature move.
We finally got to the Children’s Museum. By this time, Emma was awake. Dan went exploring with Jacob and I took Emma to the “three and under” area. She was in awe. A tot-sized water table, carpeted climbing structures, a fully pimped out play kitchen . . . But for the first fifteen minutes, she was too scared to let go of me. And then she saw: The Babies. “Babies!” she cried. And ran to them. Emma loves baby dolls. She HAD to be with them. She HAD to hold them. And was terribly annoyed when other children thought they had a right to touch them. (Emma is very protective of her babies.) So, she spent a good part of the next half hour moving her babies from one location to another. Trying to stay one toddle ahead of the others. Then piling them all into my arms and demanding I carry them. Along with her. (FYI: physically impossible.) At one point, Emma tried to make off with her babies in this getaway car.
When that failed, she stashed them in a safe house.
Unfortunately, a little two-year-old boy came over to see what was going on. Emma stood outside the pretend house with her hands on her hips. The boy didn’t budge. So Emma shoved him. He wasn’t hurt. Actually, I don’t think his body even moved. But he was a bit surprised. And of course, I had to then go over and say the obligatory “No pushing Emma”. (Must. Sound. Stern. And. Not. Giggle.) She looked at me unfazed. (Let’s just call a spade a spade, Mommy. He got in my face. He had it coming.)
Shortly thereafter, Emma and I went off in search of Dan and Jacob. And we all decided it was time for lunch. While we were eating, we noticed the first few snowflakes starting to fall. Dan and I looked at each other. Time to head home. Or at least, closer to home. It was 1:00pm. We made it half-way back before I got this voicemail from one of our realtors.
“Yeah, so I wanted to give you an update. We’re going to need a bit more time. Let’s say until 4:30pm . . .”
Okay. So you need another THREE HOURS. Which would be fine except for . . . oh, what was it? . . . oh right, THE BLIZZARD. By the time we got back to our town, Emma was asleep again. And the snow was starting to pile up. We drove to the local library. I figured I could keep Jacob entertained for an hour or so while Dan stayed in the car with Emma. Great plan. Except that for some reason, I couldn’t seem to pry the library door open. Turns out, the library had just closed. Because of the weather.
So, instead we went to the supermarket. We needed to go anyway. We didn’t need to spend an hour-and-a-half there. But why obsess over the details? Thing is, our supermarket is right next to a pet store. Since Jacob LOVES animals, I said to him, “Jacob, before we go grocery shopping, do you want to look around the pet store for a bit?” He did.
Dumbest. Parent. Move. Ever.
Three minutes later, I was fielding these:
“Mommy, can we get a ferret?”
“How about a guinea pig?”
“Mommy, can we at least get another fish?”
Try convincing a four-year-old that you can’t get a goldfish because they are too messy. Which is a problem because you are trying to sell your house. I’m not sure I even convinced myself.
Finally, we made it into the grocery store. And then back home. I was thrilled to be home again. But hardly recognized the house. The realtors had staged it. Aggressively. It was suddenly . . . oh, what’s the word . . . oh right, tasteful. Just one example. These shelves in the bathroom used to be filled with a gazillion bottles of Children’s Tylenol and bags of Ricola cough drops.
Lord. Now how can we keep from messing this all up until we actually sell the house? We may have a lot of road trips in our future . . .