Monday we all went together to take two of the children to their well baby appointments. In general we have tiny children and so were astonished to discover that the baby is in the 30th percentile for height. "What a giant" said the doctor sardonically. We all laughed together.
Never mind that she, the baby, had thrown up a mere half an hour earlier.
Stupidly, we thought we'd make a day of it.
Pick up the house, get in the car, go to Wegmans for a serious stocking up, buy something for lunch, go to a park and then end up at the doctor to round out the whole day.
So of course it was raining as we wended our remarkable way out of Wegmans. I say remarkable because I can tell so many people are remarking on us in their own minds. I generally plaster a smile to myself as one adjusts a mast or something, grab a couple of hands of children and talk cheerfully to Matt or Elphine as we pass in front of the checkouts, not making eye contact but noting the startled mothers with one or two children in their carts, the bemused boomers who gently lift their eyebrows to the heavens, the gentle grandmothers who usually smile and sometimes say something helpful like "you sure do have your hands full."
The rain rained long enough for us to decide to eat our lunch in the car. Matt has a rule about this. A rule that says "No Eating In the Car Ever."
"You value the cleanness of the car over the health, well being and happiness of your children" I always say, "I'll clean the car, I promise."
"No you won't. You always say that and then you never do."
"That's true" I ripost (its the same conversation every time) "but this time I will for sure clean the car."
So we ate in the car and only the baby shredded her delicious ham salad sandwich all over the seat. One out of six is very reasonable. And we drove around looking for a park. Up a hill, round a bend, up another hill, back the opposite way, round another bend and then
"What was that?" said Matt cautiously.
"The baby threw up."
Turns out ham salad and cookies don't sit well with her on a windy car ride. And I'm not the kind of mom to drag around a lot of extra clothes and diapers and stuff. I don't carry anything for children except a tiny book about a bunny and horse and a chicken who get left out of a parade and so make their own parade, a better parade. And I have a pen and a piece of paper. I don't carry bottles or sippy cups or snacks or anything. Certainly no extra clothes.
"We'll just take her to the doctor naked, "said Matt.
"Oh, that'll be good," I say, "perfect."
But the park has a lou, so we clean her up a little and remove all the offending garments and then go play at the playground.
Except that the playground is awful. Awful.
Only Marigold has a good time because she's too little to know better. There are swings and a sort of climbing thing that if you fall off the top of it, you can't possibly get hurt. And there's a thing to throw a ball through (except there's no ball), and a very very safe bouncy thing that you can sit in and sort of jiggle around, and a stupid little house. And then, as I watch my children wandering around looking at the lame lame set up, I realize, there probably are no fun play grounds left in America.
You can't have a high slide because you can try to jump off or go up the wrong way. You can't have a see-saw because its so easy to fall off at the top, or hurt the other kid by coming down yourself very sharply. You can't have a merry go round because once you get it going really fast and get ready to jump out, you can fall and scrape yourself. You can't have monkey bars because you'll definitely fall when you're in the forth grade and break your arm. And even though you and your mother didn't dream of suing, some other mother did and so there are no fun play grounds left, at least in Binghamton, at least the ones I've seen.
And so on the one hand we're kind of shocked by the whole idea of children at all, and on the other, we're terrified that anything will happen to the few that we have. We follow them around on playgrounds and everywhere saying 'do be careful dear, don't climb up there, don't do that, don't swing too high, don't do that' and then we bring them home and let them play angry birds (well me, I let my kids play angry birds but I feel really guilty about it). And so they learn not to take any risks, except maybe on the internet.
On that note, I'm going to go tell the child I hear meddling in the kitchen to Stop It, risk or no risk, naked or clothed, vomitous or not.