b Papa Dog's Blog: Our Weekend: Playing with the Big Kids

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Monday, May 16, 2005

Our Weekend: Playing with the Big Kids

I’ve been noticing lately that the weekends are now officially busier and less restful than the weekdays. There’s just too much stuff that needs doing to cram it into two days a week. I need to figure out an argument to support the idea that it’s in some way related to my job to stay home and figure out where in the baby’s crib that loose nut is supposed to go. If I could prove that it’s in some way job-chargeable, I’m sure they’d go for it. It’s all about the sold time, after all.

I did my same old dumb thing of staying up late Saturday night to catch up on my stories and get some shit done, then Baby Dog decided that the cut-off point for being content in her crib was 6 a.m. and not a minute later. I was short on sleep but Mama Dog was cumulatively shorter, what with having to get up in the middle of the night every night and not having a nice restful job to go to during the week. I hauled myself out of bed, let the dog out, changed and fed the baby, made myself a nice cup of tea. As we say around our house: “Critters have needs.”

Our one planned social engagement for the day was a brunch at the house of some neighbour we’d never met. We belong to a neighbourhood parents’ group. Not the sort of social scene I’d select for myself, but Mama Dog has carefully explained to me how Baby Dog is going to one day get big enough to interact with other children in the neighbourhood and then we’ll have to know their damn parents so we might as well start now. I’m sure they’re lovely people, but hey – I’ve managed my entire adult life to avoid striking up an acquaintance with anybody solely on the basis of an accident of geography. Even home ownership couldn’t make me talk to my damn neighbours. I still have sharply honed reflexes for avoidance of eye contact developed through years of surly apartment dwelling. Children, though. They make you do the things you thought you’d never do.

Well, of course, it wasn’t so bad. The brunch was an outdoor back yard affair. There were oodles of children, and Baby Dog was probably the littlest. All these upright, walking, talking kids, chasing each other about, running up stairs, arguing over possession of the good toys. Near us on the lawn there was some sort of game contraption featuring a bunch of little plastic ducks. Ducks are one of Baby Dog’s main things right now…at least, I draw the inference that they are from her enthusiasm for the duck page in Ten Little Ladybugs and the smile she gives me every time I inform her that the ducky says “Quack, quack.” We sat in the shade under a tree. Baby Dog made raspberry noises and banged the ducks together. I watched the “big kids” run around and wondered (not for the first time) how one gets from A to B.

We met one serious-looking little girl who was very mobile but very quiet, playing with a plastic lawn mower and stealing shy glances our way. When we later met her mother, Mama Dog enquired after the girl’s age, which turned out to be eighteen months. “Oh,” Mama Dog and I said more or less in unison. “That’s how old Baby Dog will be when we go to Edmonton for Christmas.” The other mom laughed. “I do that all the time,” she said. “I meet a bigger kid, and think, ‘Oh, okay, she’ll be that big in X months.’”

As our time at the brunch was winding down we found ourselves sitting at a picnic table kind of adjacent to a conversation but not really part of it until the question came up of whether we all preferred living in Oakland or Berkeley. The consensus was very pro Oakland. “I like Oakland because it’s more real” said one mom. We all agreed on that, but after a moment’s thought I had to add, “Of course we’re only two blocks into Oakland here. But they’re two real blocks.”

In the evening we accepted an impromptu invitation from the Pirates to dine at Kensington Circus. If you’re unfamiliar with the place you might think it odd – as I did – to suggest a pub as a dining spot when you have two small children in tow, but the place is actually very kid friendly. In fact, there’s a toy-laded play area that was just crawling with kids. The funniest thing about the toy area is that it’s situated right under the dart boards. There’s a good combination: pub, beer, dartboards, children underneath dartboards. Papa Pirate assures me that the dartboards and the play area are never in use simultaneously, but I can imagine a certain class of lout who’d think that a fine drinking game.

Anyway. The children in the play area were again the bigger, walking and talking kind. Baby Dog and Baby Pirate both did shifts among them. Baby Pirate is getting closer to the talking and walking stage, but she was still the second smallest one around. Baby Dog was definitely the junior member of the bunch. Still, she held her own. At one point she was rolling over – still her favoured mode of locomotion – to get at a toy, and she managed to clop a looming boy in the face with her feet. He was surprised but unhurt. I apologised for her, but didn’t make too big a deal out of it, figuring he wouldn’t want it getting around that he’d been beaten up by a baby girl. Later, explaining it to Mama Dog and the Pirates, I observed, “Well, he was kind of asking for it. He was pickin’ his nose and chewin’ it.” “Oh yeah,” said Mama Pirate, “he deserved to get kicked in the head.” Well, baby-kicked anyway.

A milestone before we left the place: I changed my first diaper in a public bathroom. Can you believe she’s getting close to a year old and I’ve never done that before? I’ve changed Baby Dog on grassy slopes and in back alleys but never in a public bathroom. Somehow Mama Dog has always been the one to do that. As luck would have it, I hit the jackpot first time out: not just dirty but poopy (as we say in the parent trade). The changing station lacked safety straps, so the operation was a delicate balancing act – keeping our curious and increasingly wriggle-prone girl from falling off the shelf while making the reach to get the poop into the toilet rather than – well, anyplace other than in the toilet. I’m pleased to report that I was entirely successful. All those years of juggling have finally paid off.


Blogger Judy said...

Changing diapers in public restrooms is ALWAYS an adventure...my boys have both managed at one time or another to make memorable deposits in their pants at the most inopportune times!

Speaking of inopportune - I need to rescue my junk mail pile from the roller...he's eating EVERYTHING!

8:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home