I like breaks. It seems, these days, that I am constantly in search of one. Breaks from, mostly, parenting. I like breaks from doing dishes and breaks from the rain and breaks from being inside the house, too, but I really like breaks from parenting. Doing what I want, when I want to do it. Cooking food just for me. Completely spacing out for minutes at a time without worrying that my small child is going to hurt himself due to my negligence. I sometimes wonder what I did with all my time before I had The Who, but usually I don’t get that far in my wondering because my reverie is interrupted by a Very Urgent Need of some sort — juice or grilled cheese or playing fire fighters, complete with little plastic fire hats for both of us.
Yes. I really do like breaks, but I am also realizing that I miss him. This morning, I am taking advantage of the free childcare afforded me as part of my membership at the Y. The Who is in the Kid Zone playing with his pals while I meander around the internet, catching up on Facebook, reading all those back posts on my Google Reader, and blogging. But as the minutes of my precious break-time tick by, I find myself really looking forward to pick-up in the same way I rush toward day care at the end of a long workday. I miss him. I feel reasonably sated. Sane and relaxed. Rested. And now I’m ready to kiss those amazing cheeks.
I guess that’s the purpose of breaks. To stop and to start again, refreshed.
I like breaks.
Today has been one of those days where, if I didn’t laugh about it, I would cry. Honestly, I actually stood over the sink, nearly weeping with frustration and sheer exhaustion.
Now, it would be one thing to just be tired from being woken up every two hours. And it would be another thing to be tired from being woken up every two hours and then have to parent a cooperative child. But today I am tired from being woken up every two hours and then have to parent an also-tired, uncooperative, willful 2-year-old who snatched his hand away from me in a parking lot and dashed away, laughing, and then spent the next 7 hours asking more questions than I ever thought possible.
Honestly. Friends told me about their question-asking kids, but I never understood it until I lived it.
Here are 30 minutes. Just 30. Thirty out of the 600 we spend together every day.
Why we all done with gym class?
Because it was over.
Why it was over?
Because we did all of our activities.
Where are these [puzzle] pieces?
I put them away.
Why you put them away?
Because we didn’t need them in the car.
Why we didn’t need them? I want them, Mama. I want to have them, Mama.
I will give them to you at home.
Why you will give them to me at home? Why we going this way?
Because we are going to the store.
Why we going? Why we going up here?
Because this is the way we go there.
Oh. Why we gonna buy something right here?
Because we need to have new soap for you.
Why we gonna park our car?
Because we have to put the car somewhere so no one hits it when they are driving.
Remember we went on the train and the poopy bus?
Yes, but it’s not really a poopy bus.
Why we didn’t go on the poopy bus?
Well, it’s just a bus. Max called it a poopy bus.
Why we going here?
I’m going to get some coffee.
Why you need coffee?
I’m very tired.
Why we gonna park our car, Mama? I wanna park our car there.
I’m gonna park it right here.
I don’t wanna park it here. Why you wanna get some coffee, Mama?
Because I am thirsty and tired.
I thirsty and tired, too, Mama. I thirsty and I tired. Why we have to go in here?
Because that’s where the coffee is.
Mama, why you have those shoes on?
Because these are the shoes I chose today. Please leave that cup there.
Why we have to leave that cup there?
Because it’s not ours.
I want my drink.
I’ll get it for you.
I want my driiiiiink, Mama!
Why are you crying?
I don’t know. Mama, where’s the red button?
On the back of the keychain. But don’t push it.
Why I can’t push it? Mama, why I can’t push the red button?
Because it will make a very loud noise.
Oh. Mama, what is this? Mama, why I put this right here?
Because you wanted to.
Here’s a little something I never knew: even a little bit of carsick can make a really big mess.
I refuse to believe that a child of mine can have carsickness. I, with the stomach-of-steel, could not possibly have birthed a baby who would quietly vomit in the back seat while I pumped gas and then calmly say, “Look, Mama. I dripped.” Yet, drip he did. Fortunately for us, we had packed nearly our entire wardrobe into two large duffel bags for our trip to see family, so a quick change in the windy gas station parking lot was simple. A couple of spritzes of my travel air freshener (a life saver that I will never be without — ever) and we were good to go.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. Nine hours of uneventful. Nine hours, friends, is a long time to be in a car with grown-ups, let alone a toddler. By the end of the trip, he was just sighing loudly from the back seat. Letting out involuntary “harumph”s every now and then and occasionally following up with “I like to get OUT.”
Despite this, though, road-tripping with a toddler is not entirely un-fun. First of all, the highway is a freaking bounty of exciting things. Dump trucks, cement mixers, underpasses, overpasses, digger trucks, and other sundry delights. There’s also the hours of uninterrupted alone-time for me when napping happens, which it inevitably does at some point. Road trips are also a really good excuse for buying Munchkins, which we did both on the way up and the way back. (Did you know that in Massachusetts, they are Very Serious about their Munchkins? Blueberry cake Munchkins. French cruller Munchkins! Are you kidding me with these miracles?)
Still, 24.5 hours of driving in 6 days (my rough estimate, including hour-long journeys to playgrounds and lunch-spots) is a lot, even for your most patient travelers. It was worth it, though. It was totally worth it for these reasons alone:
And we’ll do it again. And again and again and again, despite our road-weariness. Next time, though, maybe we’ll line the car seat in plastic. Y’know — just in case.
I wish I had a picture to show you of the last time The Who unfurled the entire roll of toilet paper.
It was so classic. He was just a little older than one and I made the rookie mistake of leaving him alone in the bathroom for 6 seconds. Oh, he laughed. He laughed and laughed and laughed. And so did I — because he was a one-year-old unfurling toilet paper and what is more classic than that? I snapped pictures (of course I snapped pictures) but recently when I decided to organize my iPhoto, I ended up deleting every picture I had intended to save, thereby leaving me with only the crap photos. In an infuriatingly ironic twist, every photo that I had deemed so precious and save-worthy was gone. And I thought I’d get over the disappointment of it eventually, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Because every time I go to look for a photo that I’m sure I have, it’s not there.
Like today, for example. Today, we got to open all the windows in the house for the first time this spring and there was this delicious breeze swirling around, spinning the handmade paper flower decorations dangling from the living room doorway and yes, rustling the ends of the toilet paper in the bathroom.
Oh! The Who must have thought. Oh! The toilet paper rustles! I remember that stuff! And Oh! I have cleverly lulled Mama into complacency by not having unfurled the toilet paper in over a year, so she will never think to thwart me!
And so it was written and so it shall be.
Nearly half the roll before I thought to go see what was keeping him so quiet. And he laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed and I was hard-pressed not to laugh with him because, well, he’s just so cute. Anyway, I didn’t snap any pictures today because there’s nothing remotely milestoney about your almost 2.5 year old furtively rolling out the toilet paper and then refusing to stop when you’ve given him the firm, I-mean-it-and-I’m-the-Mama look until finally, you have to bodily lift him out of the nest of toilet paper on the floor and sit him down on the rug just over the bathroom threshold while he whines and tells you, “But I don’t like to stop, Mama.” There’s really nothing milestoney about that.
But still. I would have liked to have shown you that precious black-and-white of The Who in a diaper and Paul Frank monkey jammies, throwing his head back in delight amidst billows and billows of Scott tissue.