Before I begin this post, there is a housekeeping matter I would like to address. I am going back to calling my youngest girl Devil Baby. Angel Baby is just too saccharine for this blog and this kid. Devil Baby suits her better, even though everything I said here still holds true. For the most part.
I am also going to go on record as the only person in the history of the world to say something negative about the Wild Rumpus. I’ll probably be tarred and feathered by all those fresh faced mommies I saw there yesterday, but so be it. The Wild Rumpus is a really cute bookstore tucked away in a really cute Minneapolis neighborhood, with a child-size purple door and a coterie of animals, most of which are allowed to wander around freely, all of which are allowed to spread their dander and feathers and other animal debris and respiratory pollutants throughout. Chickens strut around the store, in and out of people’s legs, taking refuge behind the front desk if a kid gets too gropey. Cats lounge on ratty armchairs and in the windowsills, generally ignoring the chubby hands that pet and poke them. There are salamanders, tarantulas, ferrets, chinchillas, rats, frogs, a bunch of different cooing birds.
Normally, I love the place. It’s magical – a lovely treasure trove of children’s books, a pantheon of book-love, blah blah blah, but yesterday – yesterday everything about the Wild Rumpus just SUCKED. It was the Wild Suckus. I had decided to take Devil Baby there for “Tale Time” – get it? She’s on spring break this week, so I thought I’d start us off with a nice activity after we dropped Supergirl and Saint James off at school. The place was packed – quite literally a zoo – so after Devil Baby harassed a chicken with deformed feet (pigeon toes?), we found a spot on the crowded rug. I looked around. I could have been on Jupiter for all the connection I felt with these well scrubbed women and their pallid children.
Story time began and Devil Baby was having none of it. She was squirming and trying to lie down on the floor – she insisted on closing her eyes and pretending to snore. She kept asking for fruit snacks, gum, chapstick, hand cream. Listen to the lady, Devil Baby, I would whisper, trying to keep my growing irritation at bay. Then came the song time and – slap in the face – the child who sings constantly refused to sing, refused to do the little hand motions. Jesus! Why did I even care? But I did care. A lot. I didn’t drag myself to this hot, stinky bookstore and squish myself onto a ratty old rug, shoulder to shoulder with Minneapolis’ most earnest and loving nannies, young mommies and grandmas for nothing. Sing child! For the love of God – it’s the freaking itsy bitsy spider, child, your favorite – SING!!! But instead she flopped back for some more snoring action. I watched all the other caretakers sway and sing their hearts out, smug, blissful looks plastered on their pasty faces, and I began to feel the sticky fingers of disgust closing around my throat. Are you actually enjoying this? Like, for yourselves?
The banality of it all started to drive me crazy and to more than a few uncharitable, borderline evil thoughts. For which God promptly repaid me with an allergic puffy eye.
Despite my maniacal obsession with keeping my hands away from my face, I must have slipped and it felt like one of the cats had climbed up under my eyelid to work out a hairball. I was dying, but I couldn’t rub it or I would make it worse, turning a wretched itchy eye into a swollen monstrosity. This much, at least, I have learned in my life. In desperation I rubbed my eye on Devil Baby’s shirt. Oh shit, she’s been dragging herself all over this Godforsaken temple of dander. Goddamn it itches! Aah. Fuck me. But fuck me more if I’m going to leave before this goddam story time is over, you stupid bitches! Aaaahhhh. The agony. Itches. Itches. Shit, it itches! More fake snoring from Devil Baby. That does is. Fuck it. We are so out of here.
So I retreated as gracefully as I could with my eye in screaming red hot spasms, trying not to step on any little fingers with my size 10 knee-high Wellington boots. What a bust. What a total bust. I drove us home, horribly depressed because I am not deluded enough to think I was even vaguely in the right for having been so deeply disgusted by the whole scenario. Obviously, if it’s me versus thirty-some women and their offspring, I’m the one with the problem. I may have anger issues, but I have not lost my grip on reality.
It’s me. Devil Baby has no attention span for storytime because, um, I haven’t taken her very many times. At least not when you compare to Saint James and Supergirl. When I offer to read Devil Baby a book she runs away screaming because she thinks I’m going to try to put her to bed. My child – my child – my poor, pathetic, third born, daughter-of-a-spent-husk-of-a-mother child, is a philistine at the tender age of two. I have let her watch too much TV. She knows the words to commercials for acne creams but can’t sit still in a room full of kids to watch a very animated young woman read books. She can take pictures of herself with the Mac, but she doesn’t know that it’s ok, actually encouraged, to read books during the day time. Her favorite song is Rihanna’s Disturbia, but she won’t row row row her boat with the rest of the kids. I feel like a failure when it comes to Devil Baby. I feel like I got all used up with the first two.
Have all my songs been sung? At least those not involving thumpin’ base lines, catchy hooks, screaming guitars or trippy synth?
After the Wild Suckus debacle, I loomed around in a state of melancholy, the weight of my inadequacies crushing my chest. My head felt like a waterballoon, stretched precariously thin, ready to pop and gush forth tears of guilt and self-pity at the slightest provocation. The weather sucks, there is no easy out like going to the park where fresh air and the smell of green can act as its own balm on our ragged psyches. I just needed the day to be over.
And that’s the beauty of days. They end. And start again. Today the weather still sucks, but I decided I would take Devil Baby to Club Kid so I could go to yoga. Club Kid is a pay by the hour child care alternative which I only use in a pinch, mostly because it smells like a daycare which sends me Proustian synapsing back to my working days and because the hourly pay thing feels like the kiddie equivalent of a hooker motel. Today, however, qualified as a pinch. For everyone’s sake, I needed to fix my head and my heart and there is no better way known to me than a good sweaty yoga class. And it worked. What’s more, I ran into my betties and was able to vent, just a bit, just enough, bless their hearts. Thank you Nanook and JJ. I feel better.
And right now I’m home with Devil Baby. She’s watching TV while I type, but we’re under the same blanket. She keeps pressing her little feet into the side of my leg. And this, I think . . . I hope, is good enough for today.