Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You had to be there

Mooch was running around the house all baby commando for a while today and, inevitably, she peed on the floor. I noticed her standing in a wet spot and I asked idiotically: "Uh oh, did you go pee pee on the floor?" (because having kids turns your brain to mush and that kind of drivel really does come out of your mouth no matter how much you try to fight it.) She looked down at her wet socks and then up at me with a confused look on fer face. She made the 'change diaper' hand sign, then bent over in an attempt to look into her own crotch, muttering "dih-ter? dih-ter?" then raised both arms in her 'where?' attitude and grinned a huge grin at me before announcing "all gone!" and doing a happy little stomping dance in her puddle.
People without kids will find this story gross, but if you'd been there you would seriously think it was cute and funny. Well, I did. Sorry.
We took the girls tobogganing at the park this afternoon, for some good old fashioned Turn-that-TV-off-and-get-your-snow-pants-on-right-now-because-we-are-going-to-play-outside-and-you're-going-to-have-fun-if-I-have-to-drag-you-out-kicking-and-screaming-dammit! Family togetherness time. Which went really well once the initial hurdle of leaving the house was surmounted. As we headed towards home Goober shouted:
"Look! Boys! There are neighbours out there. Can I play with them, PLEEEEESE?"
There were indeed 3 boys playing in the snow on our street, but they were 4 or 5 houses down from us and on the opposite side of the road.
"You can say hi, but it's time to go home for supper." I answered.
She ran towards them and chatted for a minute and then dragged her feet after us down the block. When we were back in our own yard she sat down in a pile of snow and stared forlornly down the street.
Before we moved here in October, Goober played with the 2 boys next door all the time; hardly a day went by that those boys didn't kick the shit out of our back door to ask me sweetly if Goober would like to come out and play. If they didn't, Goober went to them. The 3 of them, and sometimes the girl from the next house beyond theirs, would play outside for hours at a time, running freely across our combined yards. I trusted their parents and we all knew that if the kids were out of our own sight, they were within each other's, and they were never out of shouting range. They had the freedom to play and explore and it was a beautiful thing.
Since we've moved, Goober has been desperate for playmates. Unfortunately, we live on a corner lot and neither of the houses bordering us contains any kids. Goober begs to bring friends home from school, but the combination of my awkwardness with meeting other parents and the fact that I can't imagine adding another shrieking child to the congestion in this tiny apartment has thus far prevented me from acceding to her requests.
So when I looked down at her, sitting there in the snow, not yelling or whining, but just staring sadly at those boys down the street, I gave in. The distance was beyond my comfort range, and I didn't know their parents at all, and it required crossing the street, and it was beginning to get dark, but I looked at Goober and said:
"You want to go play with those boys don't you?"
She nodded, with tears in her eyes.
"OK, let's go."
She sprang up and beamed at me with a happy yell. I walked her across the street and watched as she ran over to ask if she could play. I stood around feeling dumb for a while, then took a breath and made the decision to give her back a bit of the freedom she was missing so badly. I told her I'd be watching from home and that she was not to go anywhere else, including into the house and that she was not to cross the road by herself. Then I left my daughter unsupervised with strangers for 20 minutes. She was fine. When I came back for her she pouted.
"Not yet! I didn't have any time!" But it was getting dark, and I couldn't see her from home anymore, and I can only handle so much progress in one day.

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