Forgive me for a moment while I get a little bit srsly for a second.
Being a parent is HARD. Harder than I ever would have dreamed. It’s not like the basic need-meeting is a particularly challenging skillset, mind you. Basically all I have to do is keep him from offing himself, make PB&J sandwiches (and sometimes cut them into dinosaur shapes), change diapers, take him to the baby vet every few months, and not leave him alone in the bathtub. All pretty simple, if you stick to the basics.
But the very baseline interactions may not be enough to make a really awesome human being. That’s where it gets hard. All of a sudden you have to figure out the nuances of letting a child’s imagination thrive, while keeping them rooted in reality enough that they don’t end up smoking tons of pot and getting a liberal arts degree. You have to give them room to be their own person, but discipline them enough that they know there are consequences for their actions. You want them to have the finest of everything, but on the same note you want them to understand the value of things, and learn to love the simple things in life.
Exhausting. And lots of the time I fuck it up. I let Emmett watch too much television. I don’t give him baths frequently enough. I let him eat too much sugar. I let him terrorize public places on occasion (we went to H&M the other day, and OMG don’t get me started). I swear in front of him. I play on my iPhone instead of giving him my undivided attention. I don’t read enough books to him. I let him climb on unstable surfaces and then fall and hurt himself. I get impatient, and drag him to the carseat/stroller/crib instead of always taking the time to listen and see what he’s interested in. In short, I spend a fair amount of time being a complete failure as a mother.
But I’m trying. We have plenty of days like today.
Woke up this morning, I made him french toast (let him eat too much syrup). Then we took him up to Boulder and walked around the farmer’s market. He helped pick out ears of corn. We walked some more around Boulder, and he finally fell asleep. We grabbed a quick brunch at The Kitchen in Boulder. Phenomenal stuff.
At this point, the baby woke up. We had been very lucky that his nap coincided with hunger pangs, thus a nicer restaurant choice. I pushed his stroller under the bar, which was the only available seating, and got to watch the bartenders make beautiful, complicated drinks while I ate my breakfast. Very cool. Emmett would have never tolerated this. And when those little eyes of his popped open, he right away started vocalizing his displeasure with being in his stroller and not more involved in the meal and/or terrorizing other restaurant guests.
So I did whatever any other logical, toddler-fearing parent would do in this situation: I immediately handed him an expensive piece of Spanish pottery filled with $12 french fries and let him go to town. Quiet cannot be measured in price, and I’m happy to let the little guy get in on the 4-star dining experience, provided he behaves. And lo! He behaved! Probably because the food was so good…
He was also thirsty, so…
I got my dessert to go, just in case there was a melt down (and sho’ nuff, there was a melt down as I waited for it to arrive).
At the Haagen-Dasz store up Pearl Street, there were a pair of monks having ice cream purchased for them by a touristy-looking woman. I don’t even understand.
Emmett commandeered my ice cream (coconut macaroon) that I had gotten to replace the boring ol’ vanilla gelato that was supposed to be served with the STP from The Kitchen. He also ate the vanilla gelato, and part of Chris’s brownie sundae thing. Emmett is an ice cream nazi. He kept giggling and shouting “tah-dee,” which is toddler for “candy,” and laughing maniacally. He determined that both the brownie and the STP were hostile forces and not to go near his ice cream. Weird little guy. Who takes ice cream over cake? Or not BOTH when they’re being offered together??
After a thorough desserting, and very little face-wiping, we continued our walk back to the car. Emmett stopped eating his extra to-go ice cream long enough to say hello to a bear.
After some stops to play on a playground at an outdoor mall, to do some kitchen shopping, and to get a milk at Starbucks to refresh his tiny palate, we finally headed back home. I thought he’d be tuckered out from a long day, but NO! His first stop, by necessity, was a bath. He then elected to dry au natural outside while he helped with the garden and busily bossed his chickens around.
Emmett ADORES his “chichees,” and herds them around like he’s got some kind of special chicken-whisperer powers. I can’t wait until they’re old enough to lay eggs (another month or so) and I can just send him out to the yard to gather breakfast each morning. Pants optional.
What I like about letting him run around naked in flip flops is that a) fewer diapers to wash or trash, depending on what he’s in at the moment and b) ZERO diaper rash. Naked baby means happy skin, and as long as it’s early morning or near sunset, I don’t have to worry about wasps stinging his pee hole, and that’s peace of mind that any mom dreams of…right?
As for the garden, it’s FINALLY starting to really produce things en masse. The peppers this year are OUT OF CONTROL and hot as hell. We have a bunch of varieties, but these little jalapenos are the mutant giants that are about three times the heat of a grocery jalapeno. Almost as intense as my cayennes, and easily moreso than the basket of fire that I planted in a whiskey barrel. My hands are still burning, and it’s been hours. Emmett is very good about garden gathering, but he’s got a habit of plucking green tomatoes whenever I’m not looking. He got two by me today. Two of those green orbs in this pic are actually the first tomatillos of the year, though. I’ve never done tomatillos before, and I’m jazzed that they’re actually producing fruit.
Oh, and don’t mind that tomato on the top right. Emmett took against it and bashed it with a rock a bunch of times. I don’t know why.
After gardening and chickens, we came inside, diapered up, and played for a bit.
He participated in the tasting of the today’s tomato haul. Since he helps pick them, he really doesn’t seem as finicky about trying them. I’m hoping he grows up appreciating really GOOD tomatoes, instead of fearing them like I did until I was 27 years old. Just a drizzle of 18 year balsamic (E loves this, and will lick his fingers like it’s chocolate sauce), olive oil, grey salt, fresh mozzarella, and basil from the backyard. That’s all you need to make the tomatoes shine. And shine they did– especially the first black krims of the year. WOW. Such a beefy, rich flavor without that weird bite of sour tomatoes or the mealiness that accompanies some of them. Perfection.
Then, sated and happy (and topped off with a grilled cheese sandwich and some toasted snap peas) he said “nigh nigh” and started to crawl his own sweet little booty up to his bed. He came back down on request to give kisses and hugs and say a sweet “I love you.” Once in his crib, I heard him sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for about 10 minutes, and then silence. I checked on him and found this:
No matter how many things I do to screw things up in raising him, I figure if he has days here and there that involve farmer’s markets, special brunches, ice cream for no reason, fresh air, going into his backyard, chasing the chickens that will make his breakfast eggs, picking food from his own garden, and learning about tastes and textures, giving his mommy a hug and kiss and I love you, and going to bed happy and full of songs and sweetness, then he’ll have to grow up to be a good person, right? That’s enough wholesome to last through the times when I yell “SHUT THE FUCK UP, DORA!” at the tv he’s been watching for just a little too long… Right???
And once he was in bed, I dealt with those jalapenos…
The kid will eventually grow up and eat spicy salsa, but for now, I’m cool with him napping this part out. Because OMG cute, and also monkey shirt.