“Hello. You have reached the Center for Viruses of the Digestive System. If you would like to order a Virus for the Upper Gastrointestinal Tract, please press or say ‘one.’ If you would like to order a Virus for the Lower Gastrintestinal Tract, please press or say ‘two.’ Your order will ship immediately upon the arrival at our main facility of another sample. The estimated arrival time will be less than” (pause) “one hour. Oh, look, here it is now. To hear this recording in Spanish, please go to a different, more multicultural blog. To hear a different, less gross message, please go to a blog where everyone is healthy. Thank you for calling. Have a nicer day than ours.”
….Experts are still debating exactly what his superpowers are, and whether they are helpful on Planet Earth. One eye-witness reports seeing him do the superpee, shooting, in a fit of defiance against larger powers, urine up to two feet onto the wall behind the toilet.
Another eye-witness, or possibly the same one, claimed she saw him break through a discipline deflector shield that was supposed to be protecting items on a very high counter, and obtain an entire bunch of bananas, simultaneous upsetting a stainless-steel decorative trivet which landed on Naked-Boy’s foot.
Still another eye-witness has produced proof that the newest and smallest superhero pranced across newspapers splattered with still-wet oil-based magnetic wall paint during his mother’s latest attempt at home improvement. The witness was charged with negligent looking-away-from Naked-Boy while being in charge of him. Naked-Boy does not appear to be magnetic. He does, however, appear to be naked.
He was first sighted several mornings ago, after his mother dressed him for school, or thought she did. Soon afterward, he pranced into the living room in his distinctive “costume” and declared, “I’m NAKED-BOY! Meet NAKED-BOY! I’m SOOOOooOO NAKED!”
There are no photos available, in the interest of protecting the privacy of the private parts of the party.
Gbot, this morning, scowling in front of the mirror and wildly smoothing down his hair, which I’d just brushed into floofiness: “No! I look like a baby!”
Gbot, seconds later, after I’d help smooth his floofy hair flat against his head: “Noooooo! I look like a rich old man!”
Personally, I’d go for the baby look over the other any day of the week.
I know I just said that I like my hair. It’s true: I don’t want the lowlights that even Husbot had the nerve to suggest not long ago. But I have to admit I’ve been getting really tired of my face.
Pulling my unbrushed tresses straight back into an elastic band every morning while encouraging pottying, pouring cereal and milk into pouring containers so the bots can pour their own cereal and milk into bowls, mopping cereal and milk and potty off the floor, pulling clothes onto bots who would rather be playing, pushing toothbrushes into the mouths of bots who would rather be playing, and encouraging self-shoe-putting-onning of bots (who: that’s right….) wasn’t helping matters.
The answer to all my problems, of course, was bangs. Cheaper, subtler, and–ostensibly–less painful than a face lift. Which I don’t want anyway. And so on Friday, I finally got around to making an appointment. I didn’t care with whom. I called the Ulta next to the Barnes and Noble, which I’ve been to several times, and was told that Carmen had an opening at 3:30. The name rang a bell. Carmen had done something or other–probably given me a trim–a few years back. I remembered only that he was very young and flamboyant with sticky-uppy hair, half dark and half platinum blond. He was a bit soft around the middle, and he talked nonstop about Disneyland. I had no other recollections, except that I had no feeling of heavy trauma associated with the memories, so he must have done a passable job on my hair.
I remembered nothing more until 3:45, when I was in his chair, post hair-wash, avoiding looking at myself in the mirror as I always do in the hairdresser’s chair, and he got out his comb.
It was a hairstylist’s kind of comb, very thin and long, like a stiletto, with two hundred needle-like teeth. He combed once, twice, and then it happened: the comb, on its way from crown to hair tip, jammed into the top of my ear. Then he raised his hand to comb again, and again it flapped my ear painfully down on its way earthward. And I suddenly remembered: Carmen, in addition to enjoying Disneyland very much, wanted to be a spy. He was concerned, however, because he only spoke English. And he might need to learn, say, Arabic. Two years ago, I had kindly encouraged him–after all, there we were–a hairstylist who wanted to be a spy, a housewife/new mother/magazine writer-who-hadn’t-published-an-article-since-giving-birth who wanted to write a book. And then he’d gotten out his comb.
And I remembered thinking, Carmen, my friend, how can you possibly be a spy, when you can’t even sneak up on my ears?
I saw on Friday that Carmen had aged well: he had lost his baby fat, his hair was all one color, and he seemed more confident. I sat with those words ringing in my stinging ears, slightly concerned about what would happen to my hair, but not particularly worried that an international assassin would appear and put a bullet through his black shirt that would then travel through my head.
He started talking about Disneyland.
But then he started asking questions. Consulting the photo I’d brought, ripped from an overpriced hairstyle magazine I would never use again, and asking more questions. They were good questions. He snipped, he clipped, he measured with his hands. He shaped, he thinned. He shared a recipe for a killer white salsa with shrimp.
And I found myself quite happy that Ulta salon will probably never lose Carmen to the CIA, because my ears may be slightly the worse for wear, but he did sneak up on my softer, more feminine side, and tweak it on the ass.
And not once did he suggest lowlights.
Due to the nature of this post, I cannot provide photographs of the actual subject at the time of his discovery.
But Gbot likes to count his money, although I use the word “count” in the most liberal way. In relative terms, he doesn’t have very much, although more than Mbot, because he’s better at keeping track of it. He is a natural hoarder. This morning on his pillow amongst fifteen or so stuffed animals, lay a purple puff ball, a hot wheels car, some Trio pieces, a toy microphone, and a harmonica. (He uses the harmonica most mornings before 6 a.m.) Under his pillow were two gift cards he had liberated from the glove compartment of the Botmobile.)
Several times a week, Gbot will come to me holding a piece of spare change to put in his piggy bank. He finds it laying around–it’s either fallen out of Husbot’s pockets, or I’ve left it on the counter or pulled it from under the sofa. Some of it’s actually his own, as last summer, Nanny gave both bots little fabric baggies filled with quarters to take to the zoo to buy food for the fish, goats, and llamas.
The baggies and their contents immediately became objects of contention: I quickly learned that the propensity to hoard and fight over small shiny objects seems to be embedded in our DNA. Every time I’d let the bots get out their money, it would start a fight. They were two and three when it began–too young to even know the practical value of what they were hitting each other over.
Let me reiterate that Gbot just turned three. A just-turned-three-year-old doesn’t understand that a Starbucks gift card enables the holder to walk into “The Chocolate Milk Place” and buy ten boxes of chocolate milk. But he’s always liked the toy credit card that came with the toy cash register he got for his birthday, and apparently, he likes real ones, too. He knows they’re good for something.
So yesterday afternoon when we were all very tired, Mbot played with his LeapPad and I let Gbot count his money. Generally I keep the piggy banks in a high cupboard–out sight, out of mind. But yesterday I got his down, uncorked the hole, and helped him empty it on the table. Counting his money kept him busy for thirty minutes.
And because I forgot to put it away last night, it was still on the table this morning, a shining pile of change beside it. I told him that he had to put it away before I would give him his Cheerios. Then I went about my business in the kitchen. Several minutes later, I heard, ”THIS is a spectacular way to clean up my money.”
I was emptying the dishwasher and didn’t look up.
Then I heard, “Here! Is that what you expected?”
I turned around. ”I need to put copper pennies in my underpants so it will seem like a piggy bank!” he told me happily, jingling his underpants, into which at least three dollars in change had been deposited, with both hands. They were Batman underpants, and The Joker smiled wickedly from their crotch. The Joker would have been thrilled at this development. Then Gbot’s expression changed from glee to consternation and he began to rearrange things down there. That’s when he announced: ”If I put too much money in my underpants, my pito will hurt.”
That’s when I suggest he rethink his banking options, and use the ceramic pig instead. I helped make the withdrawal, and explained that money has germs on it and so it’s best to keep it out of our underpants. And hoping fervantly that his were the only underpants it had been in.
And this is a good reason not to store your money in your mouth, either.
To make things easy today, and to prove that the bots are still here, being their eminently quotable selves, I’ve transcribed a few lines from the past forty-eight hours. You can see that we haven’t been bored; our topics ranged from mammals to physics to love. They are all connected, after all.
Mbot, on the beluga whale: “We studied the Polar regions. All of us had to learn about the beluga whale. It hops around the sea scaring people.”
Gbot, on panda bears: “If I were a panda, I would eat ALL your bamboo.”
Mbot, on Gbot: “I want his stomach to get REALLY fat, so he floats away!”
Mbot, on me: “I think you taste good in your heart, Mom, cuz you make my heart beat really fast.”
Mbot on Junepbear: “Joompbear, you’re deesGUSting.” (I gasped inwardly when I heard this. Mbot was examining his old stuffed bear at close range, and I feared that he finally had gained some perspective on the ratty old thing’s rather poorly aging fur, which at this point doesn’t get a whole lot cleaner looking with washing. I feared I was witnessing the end of an era. I shouldn’t have worried. He continued lovingly, “You’ve got some jelly on your head!”
Mbot, on relativity: “So, germs think that garbage cans are continents?”
Gbot on ear cell hydration: “I poured water in my ear so my ear cells could have a drink.”
Mbot, from the back seat: “Can’t you please drop me off at Grandma’s, Mom? I really want to give you some peace.”
Mbot, having rethought his opinion of Gbot: “I want him to be cute for the rest of his life.”
Ditto, and right back atcha, kid.
The day began at 6 a.m. when Gbot, caught atop the box for his Fisher Price Circus in an attempt to extract marshmallows and sugar cereal (which is only in the house due to their inclusion in a Christmas cookie recipe) from the high cupboard, “I am checking to see if the marshmallows and poppers are not soggy.”
And then it was off to the potty. There are guinea pigs in the Montessori classroom, and Gbot adores anything guinea piggish or hamstery, and so I’ve been using that as bait to get him to the potty. For example: “When you go potty in the toilet like a big boy, you get to go to school with the guinea pigs!”
This morning upon successful pottying, he announced, “Oh, the guinea pigs will be SO HAPPY!”
Not as happy as Mama.
And then they were off.
I was thrilled. I was as thrilled as Gbot and the guinea pigs put together. I didn’t think, “Where has the time gone?” But I did want time to stop.
Maybe it’s having lived through the turn of the century that makes me so aware of the fact that it’s ’13, and to think about everything that happened in the ’13 that I’ve grown up with: 1913. Before World War 1. Before the Model T was in production. Before women could vote. Slavery had been abolished only forty years before. And in forty years, when I’m eighty-five, it’ll be 2053. The early fifties. In the early fifties, my grandpa was only just younger than I am now. He was born in ’15. It is impossible for me not to think of the young boys born near the turn of the last century, who I knew only as old men. Because for the children who will remember me as Great Grandma Etchart, wrinkly and white-haired, Mbot and Gbot will be those boys, who those children will know only as old men. I see this vaster span of time overlaid across every day like a web. And although I know it’s ridiculous, it makes me sad. Can’t we just replay the first day of preschool forever?
The week between Christmas 2012 and New Year’s Day 2013 will be remembered in this household as the week of Underpanting the Piddle Producer. Next Monday, Gbot merges with preschool, and dropping the diaper is part of the deal. And so we are working on becoming a four-underpants kind of family. We’re almost there, but I admit to procrastinating. Diapers are easier. So an all-out effort to direct piddle into the potty had been postponed. Yesterday we were a nine underpants family, but as Noah knew, things must get wetter before they get drier.
As we gain underpants, we are also gaining pedals. Mbot received a letter from Santa this year:
This morning, the pedal bike was under the Christmas tree.
“I am the luckiest boy in the world!” Mbot pronounced.
And that’s a take.
Other things that happened today that probably will not occur on New Year’s Eve, 2013:
1. While making Gbot’s bed, with his help (in theory), I found under the bed a.) Gbot and b.) twenty-six Swedish fish beside an empty bag labeled “Swedish Fish.” I had been wondering where my Swedish fish had gone.
2. In an unrelated incident, while oohing and aahing over Mbot’s new bike, I heard plaintive calls of “Mama, Mama,” from the bathroom. Investigation revealed that Gbot had climbed onto the bathroom counter, where he’d conducted a thorough investigation of the medicine cabinet and, apparently, brushed his teeth, and could not get down.
3. In a completely unrelated incident, except that it again involved Gbot, Gbot applied my new concealer, which I’d had heart palpitations while paying for last week, across his lips in an effort to make him “as beautiful as you, Mama.”
4. In another completely unrelated incident, except that Gbot was found at the site of the incident, Gbot was caught, before breakfast, standing on a toy suitcase in order to reach the gold-wrapped chocolate coins on a high counter. When he was told to get down, he replied, “I was not getting into trouble. I was just doing my exercises.”
5. In a fifth and completely unrelated incident, except that once again, Gbot was there, both bots embarked on a “Look, it’s raining small, clean clothes!” extravaganza, and so instead of going outside to ride a new bike, they sat on their beds without talking (in theory) while I picked up, folded, and returned to the drawers so many miniature shirts, pants, and pajamas that, by the time I was finished, both guilty parties had fallen asleep.
That when The Backyardigans doesn’t come on, you should not–repeat, NOT–apply a wooden boat ornament to the screen forcefully and repeatedly.
We will be holding a memorial service for the LeapPad later this week. In lieu of gifts, please send cash donations to:
Gbot’s second LeapPad fund, c/o Gbot’s mother.
And so three Christmas lessons have been learned: 1. If you are frustrated with your LeapPad, do not assault it enthusiastically with a wooden boat ornament. 2. Spend only half of what you can afford on a gift for your three-year-old, especially if it is electronic, because there is an excellent chance that you will soon be purchasing a second one. 3. The day after Christmas is apparently an extremely popular day for shopping. If, on this day, you find yourself in the market for a popular electronic device for three-year-olds, do not bother to attempt to actually shop for it. You may find yourself having a conversation like this:
Recorded Voice: “Please continue holding. There are (pause) FOUR (pause) guests ahead of you in line.”
Person, twelve minutes later: “Customer care, how can I help you.”
Me: “Hello. Could you please tell me if you have any LeapPad2′s on your shelves?”
Person: ”I’ll check on that for you.”
Eight minutes later: “I’m having a hard time getting that information. Hold please.”
Six minutes later: “It’s hard to tell in our system.”
Me: “Umm…Could you look on the shelf?”
Person with obvious irritation: ”Honey, if I walk across the store, fifteen people are gonna stop me to ask for something.”
Me: “Okay! Sorry! I didn’t know!”
Person: ”No trucks delivered yesterday, because it was Christmas. The day before was Christmas Eve. The shelves were vacant. Check back tonight. There is a truck due in. Something might be unloaded. There’s a chance.”
Me: “Okay! Okay! Thank you! And I’m so sorry I even considered paying the company you work for for a product built for three-year-olds that can’t even withstand a bit of fisticuffs with a wooden boat ornament! Keep your shipload of WimpPads!”
(I did not actually say that last part out loud.)
Meanwhile, the perpetrator of the original incident had fallen asleep in the back seat. I had let him think that That Was That, no second chances for someone who doesn’t use the Accompanying Stylus to communicate with one’s LeapPad, and perhaps the tears and trauma had worn him out. It was the first nap he’d taken in five days.
I can’t honestly say it wasn’t worth it.
is what I should have named last night’s post. Except that it was very late by the time I finally sat down to write, and the title I ended up Twittering and Facebooking across the land was not only not entirely accurate but also grammatically incorrect.
But speaking of okay, Husbot sent me to the spa on Sunday. I’d done a solo fifteen-hour marathon (isn’t that an Ironman?) (and not unlike those I do many days) with the bots Saturday, including trips to the Phoenix Children’s Museum, the swimming pool, and that massive mecca of fabric, 35th Avenue Sew & Vac (tip: do NOT go here with Gbot, who will, when left to himself for thirty seconds (my mistake–I admit to letting go of his hand and turning my back), will attempt to bodysurf across the floor on a bolt of extra-thick-’n'-fluffy fleece, to his mother’s mortification (I quote: “Who’s child IS that?” At least that’s what I wanted to say.)), and I guess that evening it showed. Maybe it was the three glasses of wine I downed at Grandma’s house during dinner. I ALWAYS pay when I drink three glasses of wine, and the next morning, indeed, I was wishing a third glasses hadn’t sounded so good–nay, so necessary–at the time, when Husbot walked in the door from his morning dog walk and announced that I would be at the spa from 9:45 until three that afternoon.
My first thought of course was, “and WHO is paying for it?” But he assured me it had been “reasonable” and that I deserved it. I knew he was right about that last one, and hey, one outta two beats Vegas odds, so, as he packed up the Husbotmobile, I transferred a pile of dirty dishes to the dishwasher so I didn’t have to do them after I’d been pampered into noodlishness, and headed over to the historic Wigwam resort, where I crossed the Einstein-Rosen bridge* into a parallel universe.
I’d been to The Red Door Spa a few times, but not since I was pregnant with Mbot, and I hadn’t had a facial in what my good friend Z will tell you had been unforgiveably too long. But Husbot had signed me up for a facial followed by a pedi/mani and then a “makeup refresher,” (to refresh, um, what makeup? I wondered, along with, “is he trying to tell me something?” but looking a gift Husbot in the mouth didn’t seem helpful) at which point I was free to lounge about in any of the “relaxation rooms,” use the outdoor hot tub, or swim, or lounge by the pool in my extra-thick-’n'-fluffy robe–(almost as good as floor surfing on a bolt of similar fabric).
I didn’t mentally wind down until about forty minutes into the facial, but it did, eventually happen. And afterwards, as I fell asleep briefly on a chaise longue in a relaxation room (look how easy it is to get used to using those words–I don’t even need quotation marks anymore!), I thought, “This feels strange because I never sit down and do nothing. EVER. When I do sit, I sit in front of the computer (or of course on the loo, but even there I do my catalogue shopping). I know I should find time to medidate, but I now think “meditate” is just another word for “sitting and doing nothing and feeling good about it because it is goal-oriented.” Either way, sitting and doing nothing is WAY UNDERRATED.
I returned home a nicely altered version of myself, and escaped after spending only a little bit more on a small tube of exfoliation goop called Phytomer Vegetal Exfoliant. My esthetician had revealed that it had been known to significantly reduce hyperpigmentation, that pesky result of pregnancy and aging. Fifty million shades of hyperpigmentation are not so much okay.
So last night I used it again, and left it on for ten minutes instead of the recommended five, because I was busy, and this morning when I looked in the morning, I actually blinked because the hyperpigmentation on my chin had actually faded. I’m still stumped about how it worked, and so fast…could I have done this years ago? Will it continue to fade? Tune in next year. I’ll let you know. Unless I’m too busy meditating in my extra thick-’n'-fluffy robe and my new-and-improved shade of okay.
(*contrary to the calculations of physicists, the journey wasn’t difficult at all.)