Friday, August 26, 2011

Picker Your Battles

I've learned a lot these past few weeks. 

If you're boobs are leaking in public, for example, another, sympathetic mom will most likely alert you to this fact, and possibly offer up her own embarrassing anecdote, just to make you feel less...well...sheepish. And wet.

And speaking of wet, another thing I've learned is that little infant boys don't always pee in a trajectory that will hit you, your curious daughter, and the nearest wall-hanging with the kind of water pressure that would make a fireman envious. Sometimes their pee is real sneaky-like (infant boys', not firemen's). You'll be changing him, quickly wiping and applying the necessary ointments and replacing the diaper like your diffusing a bomb, you'll snap the little outfit back up, all proud of yourself that you dodged another bullet, as it were. 

But when you pick up your grunting little angel and cradle him in your arms, you pause. What the....his back is wet. Why is his back wet? Is he sweaty? Did I lay him down in a puddle of water? What the F is going on?

What's going on is your son just performed what I like to call The Velociraptor. It's not the pee you see that's the problem. It's the pee that you didn't even know was there.... It's the pee he does off to the side, while you're too distracted by the prospect of getting a full-on golden shower to even notice what's happening. Plus, your son is looking at you all wide-eyed and alert, beguiling you with his innocence, that leaves you completely unaware that he's busy ruining another adorable outfit you've just put on him. Little brat.

However, I'd say the most important lesson I've learned as I stumble around the house in a bleary-eyed state of semi-consciousness, is Pick Your Battles has been elevated to a whole new level.

For instance....I decided to be all ambitious the other day and actually take all three children and the dog on a walk before I had to take Rollie to school (which, thankfully, has proven to be far less traumatic than last far anyway). I strapped Finn into a baby bjorn, shod my two older kids, grabbed the dog leash (after almost forgetting to attach the dog to it), and we were off. Why I decided I could do this without a stroller--or a shot of rum--is beyond me. I can't even blame pregnancy brain anymore, although surely there must be some follow-up ailment to account for questionable post-partum decision-making. Possibly hormones, possibly breastfeeding, possibly the fact that I tried on a pair of previously baggy, pre-pregnancy pants on the other day and couldn't pull them up over my ass. Which was not where I carried Finn, if memory serves.

So anyway, I chose to undertake this incredible journey around the block on garbage day. Add this to the fact that Rollie has been really into the show American Pickers lately, and you start to get the idea of where this walk was headed.

My entourage and I crossed the street and headed up a sidewalk that was practically impassible because of the amount of just...stuff piled up at the end of one driveway. Cardboard boxes, old wicker shelving, plastic bags of various sizes and shapes, broken lamps, broken picture frames and assorted other broken items that appeared to be circa the Carter administration. Minus the vicious, attack bunny-rabbit.

As I tried to determine the best way to steer my little ducklings around the pile, Rollie slowed down and eyed the items with keen interest. It's the same look he often gives these crappy plastic handcuffs that hang in the cereal aisle at the grocery store (which he has informed me he would like to buy so he could use them to handcuff his crush and lock her in his bedroom the next time she comes over....yeah, I know....aye-yay-yay).

Rollie: What is all this stuff, Momma?
Me: It's just garbage, honey.
Rollie: Why is it so much?
Me: I don't know...maybe they cleaned out their garage recently.
Rollie (now stopped directly in front of the giant pile and scrutinizing an especially tacky, gold-colored reindeer): ...Look, Momma.
Me: Yeah, I see it.
Rollie: Why are they throwing it away?
Me: I don't know. It looks like it's missing an antler.
Rollie: It's for Christmas.
Me: So it is. Come, let's keep moving.
Rollie: ...I'm gonna pick that reindeer.
Me: Oh, Rollie, come on. Don't go rooting through other people's garbage.
Rollie: But it's a decoration. We could put it in our yard.
Me: Wouldn't that be lovely?
Rollie: We could keep it out there until it rains, and then I could put it in my room.
Me: Rollie, I really don't want you to touch any of that stuff. Now come on or you'll be late for school.
Rollie (still not moving from his spot, transfixed on the golden reindeer, which now that the morning sun has hit it, is beginning to sparkle like a diamond in the rough): Look, Momma. I'm that guy from American Pickers.
Me: No, Rollie, you are not that guy from American Pickers. That stuff is gross and dirty and full of germs and if we don't keep moving you won't have time to play with any toys in your class before school starts. So let's GO.

Finally Rollie dragged himself away from the garbage pile and kept walking, all the while talking about what a find that reindeer was and how badly he wanted it for his very own. And as if the gods of all that is tacky and hideous was smiling down upon my son, Finn started fussing, which soon escalated into crying and rooting around on my chest in a way that meant if I didn't whip out my boob in about two minutes I was in for some full-scale, red-faced goat-like inconsolable baby crying. Forget the fact that I literally fed the kid 20 minutes ago. And changed him. And already dealt with one Velociraptor sneak attack.

And so I had to make a U-turn and lead my crew back home. Which meant of course, walking past the gleaming reindeer.

Rollie: Look, Momma. The reindeer is still there.
Me: Yep.
Rollie: Don't you think Dadda would like that reindeer?
Me: If Dadda knew it came from the garbage he would put it right back in the garbage.
Rollie: But it's not even dirty or anything, Momma. It doesn't look like garbage. (Translation: we wouldn't have to tell Dadda it came from the garbage.)
Me (sighing as I try to convince Finn that the pacifier I'm holding in his yelling mouth is indeed my nipple): Rollie...I...oh, whatever.Fine. I don't care. But I'm not carrying that thing home.
Rollie: I'll carry it home.

And so it came to pass that I watched my son raid my neighbor's garbage and pull forth his prize: a sparkling, golden, one-antlered reindeer. I walked behind him, watching him proudly strut home with the  treasure tucked beneath his arm, the cheap gold-flecked paint flaking off on his school shirt. At one point he raised the reindeer over his head like a hockey player who'd just won the Stanley Cup.

Rollie: Look, Momma. He's pooping on me.
Me: Nice. Rollie.
Rollie: I'm gonna put this in the front yard so Dadda can see it when he gets home.
Me: I bet he'll love that.

One man's trash...
So yeah. Pick your battles. Was I about to get into a heated tete-a-tete with my son about taking a relatively innocuous (albeit ugly-as-sin) bit of abandoned Christmas decor for himself? Nah. Not when I was starting to sweat, with a fussy baby strapped to my chest and an old dog panting at the end of his leash and about to take a dump in the middle of someone's beautifully manicured yard. So what if the reindeer ended up among my hydrangeas? And that Jeff was pretty skeeved out when I told him where it came from (although his response was, You should have made him pick that Christmas tree stand out there--we could use a new one)? I consider this a win in my column.

Although my other lesson of the day is: Don't take the kids out for morning walks on garbage day.


  1. A tale well told. It was hilarious. At least he didn't drive up in a Mercedes and try to get a bargain from a shrewd local. Funny

  2. Oh Bekah--have you learned nothing from the Land of Misfit Toys?? ;) Very funny post. And I personally love the golden reindeer. Great pick, Rollie!!

  3. Hi Rebekah. A funny thing happened to me today. I check your blog about every other day waiting for the next one to appear. I'm sure you are swamped with the new baby. Today I was reading an article in American Baby and when I got to the sentence "Rollie was the most breathtaking thing..." I went wooahh. Yep, it's your article. So I can get my fix after all. haha. Thanks for all the laughs. Rebecca

  4. Wow--Cool! Thanks for letting me know, Rebecca. I know I've been totally slacking on the blog lately--trying to finish the Pregnancy Is Easy manuscript while the joys of being preggers are still fresh. But I promise to blog more diligently in the coming months!
    Thanks so much for reading!