We celebrated another milestone today. Both girls slept in their bedroom all night long. Now, this may not sound like a huge deal to some people, but we co-slept from the beginning, and last night was the first night since DD1’s birth that no little person has occupied our bed, crawled into our bed midway through the night, or woken up crying because she discovered that she wasn’t in our bed. I slept six blissfully uninterrupted hours and actually found myself slipping into the girls’ room at daybreak this morning just to make *sure* everything was OK.
By the time the girls’ crawled out of bed, I was wide awake and ready to make today another fun day of celebration. I fed them breakfast, got them dressed, then headed to McDonald’s for a snack and playtime. This was the first time we’d ventured into our local fast food headquarters, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the play area was both clean and virtually empty at 9:30 a.m. on a rainy Friday morning. What I wasn’t as pleased to discover, however, was that the play area boasted a big screen television tuned to Nickeledeon and blaring preschool programming.
“Bubble Guppies!” Little Bear shrieked with delight.
“Looks like it is,” I acknowledged, initially grateful that the programming was appropriate for young children. Then, I watched her edge away from the play area and toward the screen.
“Hey, go play!” I laughed. “If you wanted to watch Bubble Guppies, we could have sat home and watched television for free.”
She took a few steps toward the play area, then turned back, mesmerized by The Screen. Then Baby Bear came over to watch.
“BOTH of you go play,” I said. We did NOT come here to sit around watching TV.”
With much urging, Little Bear finally made it into the play area … where she promptly climbed into a lookout spot, stretched out, and again fixed her gaze on the electronic Pied Piper.
By this time, I was getting perturbed. “If you’re not going to play, then come sit down and eat.” I said. “We’ll finish our food and go.”
… Apparently children who cannot remember to play in the presence of television also cannot remember to chew … or swallow. We ended up moving to the a table tucked away in a corner, out of sight of The Screen, and the girls at last ate a few bites of their snack. I was still pondering how to get them to ignore The Screen and play when aide arrived in the form of five other little tykes — two girls about Little Bear’s age and three little boys about Baby Bear’s size. Bubble Guppies might trump active play (Grrrr!), but active play with new-found friends definitely trumps Bubble Guppies!
The girls played happily for the next hour, long enough for me to feel we’d gotten our money’s worth, with few issues. Then I heard the fateful word:
“Kiss! Kiss!” demanded Baby Bear. I reached her side right after she planted a very wet kiss square on the lips of a very startled little boy.
“No, Baby,” I said, “We don’t kiss our friends.”
“Me kiss!” she insisted. “More kiss!” Then, she was off to share the love and germs with another unsuspecting tyke. That time I manage to intervene before direct mouth-to-mouth contact and tell her again, “No kisses. Kisses are for Mommy, Daddy, and Sister.”
“Me yike kiss!” she whined.
Sigh. What’s a mom to do with a sweet loving little girl who totally does not “get” the concept of personal boundaries? This mom decided it was time to head to the bookstore and let Little Bear shop with her Tooth Fairy money.
As it turned out, Little Bear didn’t actually buy anything. We browsed for close to two hours, but Little Bear kept finding herself drawn to toys that were well beyond her budget and overpriced to boot. Of course, browsing for nearly two hours meant finding several “bargain” books that we wanted to add to our home library, along with some clearance art supplies and floor puzzle. As we approached the checkout stand, Baby Bear approached her limit. I had both hands full of stuff, so Little Bear stepped into the Big Sister role of trying to corral the hurricane and gently steer her past all the gadgets, trinkets, toys, and novelty candies between us and the register. Just as we reached our destination, the lone cashier said, “Do you need to check out?”
“Yes,” I replied. (I wouldn’t have navigated the obstacle course to get to the register otherwise.)
“These registers aren’t working,” she said. “I’ll have to ring you up in the coffee shop.”
And so we began the harrowing journey past fancy pens, shiny rings, and tantalizing sweets to the other side of the store, complete with all sorts of baked goods, chocolates, and beverages. I tried to contain Baby Bear. Little Bear did her best to help distract her. But at the moment I turned to sign our receipt, she spied several long rows of metal cans full of energy drinks.
“Dink!” she said, as she grabbed for the nearest one.
“Ssssssss” came the sound of carbonated beverage spraying out all over the refrigerator case.
I quickly clapped my hand over two tiny holes in the side of the candy and handed the dripping mess to the cashier. “I guess we’ll be paying for one of these as well,” I said.
I’m still not sure what exactly happened. Baby Bear really hadn’t been that rough with the thing. “She just touched it!” Little Bear said in disbelief. But that touch cost us an extra $3 and about 5 minutes of clean-up.
I’d like to say the rest of the day went a little smoother. Unfortunately, we’d been home less than an hour when I heard a blood-curdling scream from Little Bear. I ran to her only to find her holding her bottom lip, which was covered in blood. In the midst of squabbling over a toy, she’d somehow managed to flip over and slam her bottom lip into her steel bed frame. Ouch.
Not to be outdone, Baby Bear fell and conked the back of her head on the concrete porch. And just for good measure, she managed to pull their wooden rocking horse over on top of herself and give herself a coordinating knot on her forehead.
Add in spills, potty accidents, and a broken vacuum cleaner, and today had all the makings of a disaster. But it wasn’t. In fact, Little Bear said it a “great day, the best day I’ve ever had. Except maybe yesterday.” Why? Because she chose to focus on the successes of the day.
The girls got to play and make new friends. We sat in the bookstore reading books and carefully choosing which ones we wanted to add to our library. The girls had fun playing in the house and even got to have some fun outside, thanks to the covered porch that’s a part of our new apartment. Little Bear tackled four pages in her reading book and sailed through all four of them with few issues. We took time to do handiwork — cutting, tracing, coloring, and pasting — for the first time this week. We spent some time in one of our just-for-fun Critical Thinking Company activity books. And we read, read, read. We read before breakfast, read at the bookstore, took several reading breaks throughout the afternoon, and read yet more before bedtime. Sure, we had a few crazy moments, but for most of the day, we had fun. And when all was said and done, that’s what she chose to remember.
As Oscar Hammerstein once wrote,
It’s a very ancient saying,
But a true and honest thought,
That if you become a teacher,
By your pupils you’ll be taught. …