Saturday, July 10, 2010

Toddler Mojo

Regardless of the weather, the weekends are always full of chores. Luckily, today was particularly muggy and on the verge of thunderstorms so we didn’t feel as melancholy to be stuck indoors tending to our domesticity. But bad weather doesn’t absolve us of trying to prevent a good-ol’-fashioned-boredom-triggered-toddler-meltdown. After twenty or so “time-outs” – you figure no matter what is going on with the weather outside – it is now the perfect time to venture to the store to get some “fresh” NYC air.

Toddlers are elusive beings. In one breath they will declare pants unnecessary but to consider leaving the house without their blue velcro Adidas is simply unthinkable. In the spirit of leaving quickly, I playfully wrestle Ismaeel to replace his argyle jammies with carpenter jeans and reassure him that his flip-flops are perfectly fine for a trip to the market. In case the clouds burst into rain, I make him wear his windbreaker. However, he is more than perturbed that this covers his stained but forever beloved race car shirt. He may have cabin fever but he still reluctantly shuffles to the elevator and can’t help but pretend to be glued to the floor when we get to the lobby. The doorman teased him that I would leave him behind but he still wouldn’t budge. I call back that he can pick out a treat from the cafĂ© and he soon comes running.

We head to Inatteso Cafe Casano and he forgoes his regular choice of a mini cupcake with chocolate ganache to have a fresh-from-the-oven cookie instead. The chocolate chips are soon melting in his hands and even before we leave the store he has a perfect toddler sized cookie beard. Now as a proud underwear-wearing member of society, he gallantly points out every piece of dog excrement along our path. “Mommy, watch out – someone pooped on the floor. That’s dis-gus-thing!” Though I have no explanation as to why the owners don’t clean up after their pets, I still try to reason that a dog doesn’t know how to use a toilet. This hardly seems to satisfy him as he quickly retorts why can’t they just wear diapers and mutters again “dis-gus-thing!”

After chasing each other through the tiny aisles in Gristedes and completing our shopping list, we went back towards home. To avoid the earlier messes of non-diaper-wearing dogs, we decide to lollygag by walking along the water on the South Cove. It wasn’t raining but you could feel the storm brewing nearby. The Hudson River was higher than usual and each wave was spilling onto the boardwalk. The troublesome clouds were darkened but the sun was still trying its damndest to shine through. So, all in all, it really wasn’t your picture postcard day. Nevertheless, my brooding inner poet begged to linger. But this was quickly silenced by the ever-so-practical-reminder of ice-cream soon to melt in my grocery bags. And, oh yeah, my blatant irresponsibility for letting my child be nearly exposed to the elements. Just imagine if he got wet on a summer day. What would the neighbors think !?! Then came along Ismaeel’s mojo…

Even when there are no cars around and he doesn’t have to, Ismaeel still enjoys holding my hand. I like to think it is simply because I am the one he loves most but the reality is he knows that to ask for something while caressing my thumb pretty much always guarantees a yes. And so, when he points to the bench about to be splashed by another choppy wave and says, “Mommy, it’s so nice. Let’s sit...” – I can’t really argue. I know my brown bags will likely tear if they get splashed once more. And I know our wet clothes will have to go straight in the laundry. But as we sit upon that not-so-dry bench, he flashes his china closet grin and tells me he loves me. Is there any greater sound? And all the while squeezing my hand, he snuggles in a little bit tighter, and says, “now let’s look for sharks!”

Sigh, so much love and excitement.

I really can’t think of any better reason than to let milk spoil in the sun…

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