Want Crayons (Toddler Art?)

The kid has started coloring on the walls.

We’ll start with the metaphorical.

He’s caught another stomach bug – his third, or his second and a half, depending on how you quantify the two weeks of pain we endured at Casa de Pav back in January.  How he keeps catching this evil is beyond me, but he doesn’t catch it halfway – it starts out of nowhere with a big, dramatic vomiting spell (I could tell about the time I was in Wal-Mart with the sprout at 7 AM and he erupted in a fountain of cottage cheese and peach slices shutting down an aisle and requiring me to make a pit stop through the toddlers’ clothing section which I was not planning on making and then carrying him home wrapped in my hoodie and his clothing in a garbage bag, but I won’t, I MEAN OOPS).  Then he moves on to blowing out his diapers and literally pooping the rainbow for a few nights.  We’re on night two.

I feel for the poor kid.  He’s had a rough weekend as far as toddlers go, for whom every day which does not see your every whimsical desire fulfilled to the fullest possible extent.  In short, every day is a rough day.  But the weekend has been a bad one, by dint of a couple of things.

First, the barfing.  That’s never fun; it scares the haberdashery out of him every time, and it would be better if you could comfort him but the only thing that really comforts him is being held and, well, eww.  He hasn’t developed the decency to bend at the waist while he’s blowing chunks (a skill which, like so many others we take for granted as adults, is apparently NOT second nature after all) so he likes to walk around while he’s spewing, really maximizing the ratio of affected area versus possible area.  Of course his clothes get caught in the crossfire (just made myself laugh out loud and gag a little simultaneously, a pretty unique feeling), so holding and hugging him is low on the list following one of these sessions.  Also, his last vomit fountain was bright pink; fluorescent, almost.  The only saving grace is that it happened out of the house (in grandma and grandpa’s house.  Sorry about that.)

Second, the poops.  I won’t go into too much detail here for the benefit of those of you reading this who do not have (and have not had) young kids whose poops you have to clean up.  I will just say that his entire, uh, undercarriage is raw and painful to even look at, so I can only imagine the discomfort the sprout is in.  Honestly, picturing it mentally to try to write about it is giving me the haberdasheryfied heebie-jeebies.  We’ll just stop here.  ORANGE POOPS GREEN POOPS OATMEAL-COLORED POOPS OH MY stopping now.

Third, I tried to do a nice thing for him on this weekend of horrible weather and horrible sickness.  To be fair, I didn’t really know how sick he was at the time, so it’s sadder for me now.  I tried to take him to the mall for happy running-free unfettered playground magical wonderland time (see my previous post on toddler heaven) and the goldfinger playground was closed for some random publicity stunt in the food court.  Foolishness.  Knowing the tantrums and blowups that can result from a small thing like, oh, I don’t know, not being allowed to dig through the trash and pull out the salmonella-infested chicken-trimmings which would of course cause him to DIE IMMEDIATELY (this thought process on the behalf of parents is REAL), I’m sure I don’t have to hyperbolize to accurately represent to you the overwhelming ways in which happiness completely and utterly failed to ensue when I had spent the entire morning talking up “Playground?  Bear (we call him Bear) wants to go to the playground?” and then had to tell him, within sight of the Holy Land itself, that it was closed and he couldn’t play.  In fact I won’t try to describe it.  I’ll just let your imagination fill your ears with his heartbroken cries.

SO, a difficult weekend to be a two-year old in the Casa de Pav.  But now, we can return to the literal.

I finally remembered that I’ve been meaning to start tracking his growth here in the house in a concrete and measurable way that my wife and I can look back on in a few years and say, “aww, he was, in fact, that tiny once,” so I rounded up the sprout and a crayon and I drew a line on the wall over his head.  You know the drill.

What I forgot to remember is that every moment in a toddler’s life is a moment in which the toddler is learning things about the way the world works.  Whether the thing he is learning is the thing you’re trying to teach is, of course, a thing you can laugh about later.  What I wanted him to learn was that we can make a permanent mark on the world around us, that we can leave landmarks to the future from the long-forgotten past, that even when he gets bigger, we will still have proof that he was once tiny, helpless, adorable.  In retrospect, I see that perhaps those concepts were and are a bit abstract for a brain that has trouble understanding that the trash can is a thing that should be stayed away from, even though it’s a lesson we’ve tried to teach, oh, I don’t know, maybe thirty times last night alone.  (Can you tell that the kid playing in the trash is a fargoing ISSUE in our house?)

What he learned, on the other hand, is that crayons can make pretty, colored markings on walls JUST LIKE THEY DO ON PAPER.

So in short order, this happened:


What can I say. It’s hard to take it away from him when he’s feeling so pitiful.  We’re pretty much resolved to the fact that if we ever want to move we’re just going to have to burn the house to the ground.  What harm are a few more marks on the wall?

Why All Parents of Small Children Should Learn to Love the Mall

Taking a day off from work as a teacher is an odd proposition.

Sure, you get the day off, and you don’t have to go in to the office, as it were, but it’s impossible (perhaps I shouldn’t speak for the legion – for ME it’s impossible) not to think, throughout the day, “Oh, my 4th period class is starting right now.  I hope they’re getting their work done.  I bet STUDENTNAMEREDACTED is being a jerk to the sub.  I’ll make them all write a five-page essay when I get back.  Nah, no I won’t, that’s more for me to grade.”  Okay, I didn’t have to go in today, but I had extra work to make plans for today and I’ll have extra work to get caught up when I get back tomorrow and for the rest of the week.

This is why I don’t take days off.

That said, it’s nice not being at work.  Got to spend the day with my dear wife and the sprout and my sister-from-out-of-town, and it’s all pretty swell.  Took the sprout to the mall to let him run around before his nap because it’s a bit too cold to be running around outside today (shut up, it’s cold in the South today; I know, it’s colder up North, SHUT UP).  It’s been a while since I’ve done this with him, which is a shame.  There are only a few places that the boy is allowed to run around off-leash (meaning I can just sit and watch him play); one is the living room, which hardly counts, and the other is the mall before it opens.

Say what you will about how this proves I’m a hopeless zombie in a consumerist culture, but the mall is freaking AWESOME.  As long as you get there before it opens.  Before it opens, the mall is that rarest of things: a paradise for parent and kiddo alike.  Don’t believe me?  PICTURE IT:

You’re two feet tall.  You are learning to walk / run / speak, but your stick-in-the-mud parental units will hardly let you take five steps without scooping you up to save you from falling down the stairs or knocking over the dining room table or throwing pancake syrup all over the dog.  The yard is no better; you can run free but the units are always stalking you to make sure you don’t run into the road (where, let’s face it, all the real fun is) or fall in the sinkhole or fall on the driveway and crack your skull and let your brains leak out onto the concrete.  (Why do kids have a death wish?)  Then, you arrive at the Mall.  Huge, wide open hallways, most of them carpeted.  Enormous, wall-covering murals and windows presenting a delightful banquet of color for your tiny eyes to feast upon.  The walls echo as you shriek in delight, and your own voice fills the cavernous space with an aria of joy and wonderment as you stretch your tiny legs and careen off into the wide-open spaces feeling an exhilaration you’ve felt only in your tiny, lunatic toddler dreams.

Smell what I’m cooking?  Now, the adult side of the picture:

You’re indoors: there is no traffic to save the kid from.  There are very few people around: no potential kidnappers to guard against.  There’s a carpeted and cushioned playground: you can turn the kid loose without fear of him smashing a tooth out or breaking another goldfinger glass / plate / priceless Hummel figurine.  It’s large and spacious and full of ambient noise: nobody cares how much noise the kid makes, you might as well be in a baseball stadium.  And there are no toys.  I’ll repeat that.  THERE ARE NO FARGOING TOYS.  Toys which the kid strews in his wake like a deranged Santa’s Workshop Hansel and Gretel.  Toys with inexplicably sharp bits upturned for your hapless, tender underfoot.  Toys that overwhelm your home and your soul with their inexhaustible supply, a zerg rush of plastic and plush (whoa, I liked that).  NO TOYS.  *Beams of sunlight pierce through the overcast sky as a choir of angels begins to sing*

So I reiterate: the mall, for both parents and kiddos, is the haberdasheryfied sharknado.  BEFORE IT OPENS.  After the mall has opened, if you plan on taking your toddler there, just cut out the middle man and kill yourself.

Anyway, the sprout had a blast and holy god, he is getting fast.  Like, I can no longer keep up with him at a brisk walk fast.  Sailing through the air as he takes one leaping bound after another fast.  Faceplanting into a full scorpion-stinger fall when he loses his balance because he ran too fast fast.  It’s awesome to see, and it means that very soon, I’m going to be testing all the running I’ve been doing these past two years (I started, ostensibly, so that I’d be able to keep up with the sprout when he got bigger — well, he’s bigger now, by crackey).

So, all that excitement, and I still got a solid 1000 words in on The Project today.  Oh, and another thousand HERE.

Here are some of the best of them:

  • Part of him knew he should take action, defend himself or something, but all he could do was think about pandas and try to figure out how to stop his brain from vibrating.  The pain was exquisite, but more exquisite was the ringing sound in his ears and in fact his whole head, which as far as he could tell was a perfect b-flat.  Unlike a perfect b-flat, which sounds sort of warm and makes you feel mellow, this one was inexplicably painting his vision yellow.  Hands grabbed him roughly and conducted him to a chair where he fish-flopped a few times, casting his head back and forth, trying to remember whether he had one ceiling fan or, as his eyes seemed to be telling him, fifteen.

I just now realized that I rhymed “mellow” and “yellow” in there, and I am not at all sure if I approve of it.  Future me will have to decide if he wants to be a poet or just let it slide.  Okay, that one was deliberate and awful, and I apologize to the committee for the error of my ways.  FARGO.

Tomorrow is runday funday, so I will get to test out the heel again.  The word count has slowed to a trickle the past few days; hopefully I can finish the week strong.