Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rollie's Big Adventure

Being a parent means that sometimes you find yourself doing the Pee-Wee Herman dance in the middle of a hospital parking lot. Yes. It does.

We had just spent 45 minutes in a cramped allergist office. A desk, a table, two chairs, three kids and me. And eventually the allergist. I'd kept them entertained with my phone, a few games of Simon Says, a backdated Highlight magazine, and posters discussing the pros and cons of various inhalers. But as the minutes dragged on, I started running out of ways to keep them occupied by means other than shredding the crinkly paper on the exam table or stepping on the garbage can pedal and making the metal lid slam shut. I was tired, sweaty, had a 20-pound baby strapped to my chest, and was getting a bit frazzled. Tequila!

So we were walking back to the car (which was Jeff's Jeep, which is another blog in and of itself. I had it for the week while Jeff was out of town, and one of the caveats of my driving the Fun Bus is that I had to park it as far away from any other vehicle, building, sidewalk, garbage can, or suspicious-looking tree as possible. Even if this sometimes meant just leaving it in the garage and simply walking to my destination. And the children were forbidden to eat, drink, chew gum, wear shoes, spit-up, breathe or shed skin cells while riding in Dadda's car. ) when I noticed that the parking lot had filled up a bit since we went inside. Now to our left was a great big chopper, the kind which the rider has to reach way out and hang on to the handlebars for dear life.

Elsa: Look, Momma, a motorcycle.
Me: Yep. Cool.
Rollie: Can I have a motorcycle someday?
Me: Hmmm...probably not.
Rollie: Why not?
Me: They're just pretty dangerous.
Rollie: How dangerous? (That's his thing lately. Wanting me to answer the un-answerable. How fast could I run when I was little, Momma? How hot is the dryer? What if I ate all the celery in the whole entire world?)
Me: Really, really dangerous. Elsa, don't touch it!

Elsa, notorious for touching absolutely everything she sees, even if it's salivating and growling at her, has reached out one curious little hand, quickly closing the gap between her and 800 pounds of gleaming chrome and metal.

Elsa: Why not?
Me: Because it's not ours. We don't touch things that don't belong to us. (Unless it's Dadda's Jeep, in which case we don't even look at it unless we are a safe distance away. Two miles is usually acceptable, unless the kids are sticky.)
Rollie: Who does it belong to?
Me: I don't know. But he could be looking so let's make sure we stay far away from it.
Elsa: Why is he looking?
Me: I don't know if he is, but just in case....

I lean into the Jeep to place Finn in his seat, and when I emerge I see Elsa reaching out again, almost tenderly, the way one might reach out to a gentle lover. Or, in Elsa's case, a twinkie.

Me: ELSA. Do Not Touch That Motorcycle.
Elsa: Why?
Me: I already explained why. Plus, you might knock it over. I've seen that happen in a movie once and it ended very badly for the person who did it.
Rollie: What happened in the movie?
Me: He actually knocked over a whole row of motorcycles that were parked next to each other. He touched one and they all toppled over like dominos.
Rollie: ...What did they do to him?
Me: They beat him up.
Rollie: Why?
Me: Well...actually they didn't beat him up. They almost beat him up.
Rollie: Why did they almost beat him up?
Me: ...Well...

It would have been easier for me to stray from the Pee-Wee's Big Adventure plot-line. For me to just say, They beat him up, threw him out of the bar, and from then on he never ever touched another motorcycle as long as he lived. Now get in the car, you little monkeys. Chip-chop-chip.

Unfortunately I am a movie snob. As you can tell from my impeccable taste in quotes, references and other nods toward the world of cinema. I could just go on letting my children believe that Pee-Wee Herman was beaten to a grey-suit-wearing pulp and left to hitch-hike his way to the Alamo (or was he on his way home?).

Me: They decided not to beat him up.
Rollie: Why?
Me: Because he did a silly dance.
Rollie: How silly?
Me: Really silly.
Rollie: What did it look like?
Me: ...It was just silly. He wore silly shoes and did a silly dance and they let him go.
Rollie: Can you show me?
Me: You want me to show you the dance?
Rollie: Yeah. Can you do it for me?
Me (looking around me like I'm about to tell a highly inappropriate joke. But we were in a hospital parking lot, surrounded by about 200 cars and people clad in scrubs returning from lunch break, older people shuffling by carting oxygen tanks, men wearing ties, peddling pharmaceutical products. And there were my children, looking at me with large, expectant eyes): Okay.

And so I danced. I danced the dance of a mom who was just stuck in a doctor's office with her three young kids, a hungry mom who had to pee, who was sweaty, who was kind of tired, who needed a shower. I'm talking Tony Award. The children giggled with delight, obviously having no idea their mother had such awesome moves.

Me: Da-NA-Na-Na-NA-Na-Na-NA! You master this dance and it'll get you out of all kinds of trouble.
Rollie: Like what kind of trouble?
Me: I don't know exactly. Why don't you try it sometime and let me know?
Rollie: Why did they like that dance?
Me: Why do you think they liked it?
Rollie: ...Because you were pointing at your bottom.
Me: Yeah, I figured you'd like that part.

The ride home was spent explaining the rest of the movie to Rollie, until at a stoplight I found the dance on YouTube and the kids took turns watching it on my phone and laughing themselves silly. And practicing their shouts of Tequila! I can already imagine the parent-teacher conference that is most certainly in my future: For some reason Rollie keeps pointing at his rear-end and yelling Tequila. I'll have to make sure I wear Jeff's sweatshirt again....