I have a new nephew. I got to meet him on the day he was born, and hold his warm little body, and maybe convince him for just a few minutes that the world isn’t quite as scary as it seems. He is beautiful and fierce. He furrows his wee brow in a way that makes me think of Shelton’s refusal of any injustice and Danica’s contemplative hilarity. He is my brother’s son, and when I held him I remembered the times that my brother would sleep on my chest while I watched tv or read a book. I remembered holding his hands while he kicked his legs up and made those first shuffling, comedic and terrifying steps we all make one day.
My son has a LeapPad. And because I’m a fool, I let him play with it in the car for the 90 minute drive to meet my nephew, head down and focused and oblivious to what was going on in his own body until just before we turned into the parking lot. I heard the splat and the cry and shut my eyes a minute. Then turned to see my son cover himself and the floor and his LeapPad with the full volume of his afternoon snack and maybe a bit of his lunch.
And, of course, I didn’t have a diaper bag. My Bug is two years out of diapers, and the Go Bag with my crews’ supplies was two hours of highway behind us. No napkins. No tissues. No wipes.
I scooped the worst of it off of him with my hands and walked him into the hospital. The “information” clerk provided the minimum level of help required, clearly measuring the vomit-streaked three-year-old against the impending end of her shift. Great. The salesclerk at the gift shop looked at us with revulsion and maybe a little fear, and then did a perfunctory look around to see if they had anything to fit him. Trailing bits of soggy grossness, my Bug followed me to the nearest rack. Grabbing the only thing that might fit him (and a few bags of M&M’s) I herded him back to the till and waited. Then reached into my purse and swore.
Because, you know, one needs some form of legal tender to pay for things. And my wallet was in the Go Bag, along with the changes of clothes and the diaper wipes and tissues and crayons. Two hours away.
We waited for Mike while the clerk avoided us and the patrons gave us a wide berth. As if they feared Bug just might erupt again in epic streams of vomit, spattering nylon slacks and wool pea-coats indiscriminately. Sigh. I won’t detail the tantrums involved in getting Shelton out of the puke and into something clean. He hates having his clothes chosen for him. He sees profound injustice in any delimitation of his freedom to choose. He looked at me dampening his clean underwear to wipe the puke off of his boots and foresaw apocalypse in paperless hand-dryers.
(I’ll talk to him about Karl Marx, Slavoj Zizek, and Alain Touraine, when he’s older. After he’s read me some Ursula LeGuin.)
Anyway, eventually there were M&M’s and the joy of new life. And when we got home? My sleepy Bug tantrumed his way out of his new duds and into some Lightning McQueen pajamas.
Two days later, we piled back into the car (without the LeapPads) to attend the Celebration of Learning at Danica’s school. My daughter showed me around her classroom, we did a simple project together, and then we chatted with the teacher about social development and the drama of being five. It was comforting to hear that our fuzzy little nerd is taking on the sand-box politics with hilarity and grace.
I’m so proud!
Also? I got on my bike again. With the IT strap well-fitted, and the bike shoes clipped out, I did 45 minutes of medium resistance and felt like a minor deity. WOOOT! Bodies need to move, you know? It’s how we know we’re alive!