Saturday, July 28, 2007

We've been to the beach.

he liked it.

On Dooce, Heather Armstrong recently referred to vacation with a child as SUFFERING, and I wouldn't go quite that far.


Ian had a wonderful time at the beach. An insanely wonderful time. Which is to say, apparently something about it drove him insane.

I know that, because shortly after he went completely insane, we stopped briefly at the Jockey outlet for our bi-annual underwear upgrade.

Ian chose to entertain the assembled underwear shoppers by grabbing two gold-colored women's thong panties, on hangers, and running through the crowded store, squealing, twirling them over his head in interlocking circles. Like, I don't know, some sort of underpants drill team.

And I dutifully chased him, mostly to avoid the disapprobation of my peers, because I think we all know it wasn't like I was going to be able to catch him or anything.

That wasn't the only incident, but kind of indicative. It captures the general texture of the week. I know I've complained about him recently, but he's normally not like THAT. We're fairly proud of his ability to join is in restaurants and stores (for reasonable periods) without incident. Strangers are always praising him for his good behavior and even disposition.

Ha ha.

Some snags aside, it was actually fun - we stayed right up at the boardwalk, and could walk down to the ocean carrying nothing more than a room key. For years, we stayed on the outskirts of town, and carried enough stuff each day to start a small lunar colony - food, clothes, books, a tent. This year, I could literally get up and go for a swim in the ocean CARRYING NOTHING. This is the only way, and I don't care how old and crappy the motel (ours was somewhat crappy) is or how rowdy the kids are outside after dark (barely rowdy even by Bethany standards. No lie, there were a bunch of high school boys playing guitar and singing Wonderwall on the boardwalk at 9pm.)

And, of course, it was emotional for me, seeing Ian take to it the way he did, and seeing Eric be such a dad. It made me think about how the beach has kind of 'been there for me', from babyhood through college and singlehood and wife-hood, and now with a beach baby of our own.

It's like a flipbook of snapshots - there's me and mom in matching sundresses at Avalon, there's dad throwing Sandy over the waves; there's me in my red white and blue racing suit in 1972; there's my mom after the stroke; me and Paul and Chuck; me and Dorney and Chuck and Larry..there are all the pictures of me that Eric has taken, holding up a rubber frog at Funland, shading my eyes by the jetty. There are even pictures from our pregnant trip, 2 years ago, when it rained the whole time and never got about 70. I'm obviously lost - huge, uncomfortable, already tired of waiting but mentally paralyzed, completely unable to think about what I'm waiting for. The rain pounded the dunes, and I stood out in it, shooting video of the whipping grass.

And now Ian, running in and out like a sandpiper, dropping handfuls of sand after the receding wave, showing the ocean who's boss.

We're going again in 6 weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pleased and fairly stunned to report that we survived Artscape!

I mean, who would do that? Who would take a 1-year-old to Artscape?

In fact, if you're like many people, you're asking: who would even go to Artscape? At all?

It's the annual outdoor arts fest in Baltimore.
It is always always always scheduled for the hottest days of the year. With the highest humidity.
Perversely, it's always completely mobbed with people, hundreds of thousands of them. Many visit the small press tents and the art installations, but many more come looking for cheesesteaks and funnel cake.
(Since most art -and most art patrons- do better INDOORS, some of the art and performances are tucked away in buildings and courtyards around the Maryland Institute campus. NOT SO with the cheesesteaks and funnel cake, which are right there on the street - at least a mile of food vendors. This leads the waggish to refer to it as Food-Scape.)
Plus, they sell yards of Coors on the street starting at 8am.
And you park like a mile away. (I guess the walk to your car gives you time to sober up. I hasten to add that, when I lived in Baltimore, in the next neighborhood overm and could easily have stumbled drunkenly home, the beer was not as much of a feature of Artscape.)

I love it.
I love everything about it.
I love the art, I love the art cars, I love the outdoor concert where you sit on the hillside at Mt Royal Station. (It's where I saw Taj Mahal, Betty and Johnny Clegg. Different years.)
I love a cheesesteak.
I love the several hundred art and craft vendors.
I love the idea of showing experimental short films in a tent in in the middle of the street on a Saturday afternoon in July.
I love the way guerilla art projects seep into other parts of town.
I love the people standing outside Theatre Project, inviting people to their original one-act plays like a barker at a sideshow.
I love that there's a ferris wheel, and it's free, and so people bring their little kids and walk around eating popcorn and have conversations about sculptures. That makes me so happy I could practically faint.

I love that it's the same weekend as Otacon, so that, as you drive up Charles from the Harbor, you see people - SERIOUSLY, LIKE A HUNDRED PEOPLE! walking down in homemade elf costumes.

(incidentally, the internet is a making us all smarter, I just learned the word "glomp".)
(I've had them, I just never knew there was a word for them.)

Anyway, I threw Petulant Baby in the car this morning, and I really didn't think we would get all the way to Baltimore. I thought we might get to the ATM, and maybe the Target. But it was such a beautiful day that, once I got him strapped down, and was driving with the windows down and the radio on, I said "To hell with it! Artscape or Bust!"

He obligingly fell asleep, and work up in a stroller on Charles Street.

Of course he protested. I was actually a little nervous - was he just going to be a little crab, a surly little crankypants, and harsh everyone's buzz until I capitulated and took him back home?

We were saved by a monkey.

That's Django, with her friend Jerry. After the jerk chicken stand and the line for the ferris wheel, they were the first thing we came to upon entering Artscape. A welcome sight indeed, as Ian was completely transfixed for...a long time. I got Jerry's card - he does lots more than just pimp monkey kisses, though that was most in demand today.

Anyway, watching Django kiss other children was plenty of entertainment for Ian, and the thrill of a real live monkey - not just on Animal Planet! But in person!- created enough afterglow for him to sit happily in the stroller while I purchased and ate a piece of cherry pie from Rodney.(Ian declined.) AND while we looked at some handmade jewelry and some of this and some of that - a crocheted OBEY afghan and some cool photos
and it was really fun and a nice day SO WE WENT HOME.

I'm ambitious, yes, but I am not stupid. I only put an hour and a half on the parking meter. I knew that he'd hit his fill line eventually, and I was almost spot on.

But I'm really really happy.

Since we have entered the run-up to the terrible twos, I sometimes (ha ha SOMETIMES, that's a special literary device I learned in school, it means PRACTICALLY CONSTANTLY) feel very put-upon. "Oh, fine," I think to myself, "I'll just never do anything fun again. I'll just spend the rest of my life sitting around a townhouse in the suburbs saying 'good job!' and 'Come on, eat one more carrot,' and 'Ew, who has a 'tinky butt? Who? WHO?' until I am too old to enjoy anything except {God forbid} bringing the snacks for travel soccer and complaining about the coarse language in mainstream movies. I am so screwed."

So to be able to take my son to Artscape - even the smallest northeast corner of Artscape, for an hour - really makes me happy.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Comedy 101 - midterm - multiple choice

fig. 1

IF Daddy was dressing hurriedly for a gig

AND a couple of hours later, Mommy and Baby emerge from the bathroom, clean, shiny, wrapped in fluffy towels

AND IF Momma, as she is prone to do, plops Baby onto the bed for a towel-off, a vocabulary lesson, a little smackerel of soy milk, a diaper and a story

1. what item has been left on the bed?
a. something harmless but personal, like a single dirty sock
b. something precisely the size of a baby's esophogus, like a collar stay or the cap from the toothpaste
c. a blunt object or two (ref fig 1)

2. and what is done with that object?
a. it is brandished to humorous effect
b. Baby jokingly holds it near his mouth, checking to make sure Momma is looking and is appropriately horrified, at which point he dissolves into delighted laughter at his obviously excellent skills as a practical joker
c. somebody's getting bonked in the damned head.

Extra credit: how many times, in repeated attempts to repeat the words "Shoe Tree", does Baby mutter "shit..." while Momma's lips go numb from pursing so hard?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lord, show me the way, the Devil's tryin' to break me down.

Somehow, The World's Cutest Toddler, with his generally pleasant diposition and his easygoing manner, has been stolen by fairies. The changeling they have left in his place is...well, he's kind of a dick.

He pitches horrible public tantrums with no provocation. He cries for an hour at a time. He throws food. And thinks it's funny. He wants to be held, held, held, and freaks out if you need to shift position. Unless, of course, he cannot bear to be touched at all.

Things we have done to discipline him in the past have no effect at all. My serious admonishing look makes him laugh out loud.

Plus he has learned to escape from his crib, so the idea that we can leave him for some quiet time and, you know, get something done for an hour...that's all over. He's capable of going up and down stairs, so basically he has the run of the house now. No house will ever be sufficiently child-proof for this. Even if we moved all the furniture out, we'd still have to bar the windows.

So these are some tiring days. It's hard work, frustrating and disappointing a child this much, let alone trying to keep him from cracking his skull. While I have no real desire to quit this mothering gig (okay, only intermittant desire) I have wondered several times if I can't get some sort of a transfer to another department.

He's very needy, is the thing. He's teething like hell (apparently that's precisely the word I mean) and having a growth spurt, and it seems that he's really scared of us abandoning him. He has trouble relaxing unless we're both visible. This is tough, since his dad has gigs all weekend, including one Sunday in ANOTHER STATE.

Well, if it sucks to be me these days (and it does) at least I'm aware that is sucks much, much more to be my kid.