Monday, September 27, 2010

Awkward Mom vs. the Library

It’s raining and Super Toddler has watched all of his videos. Having exhausted her supply of games and funny voices, Awkward Mom decides that drastic measures are necessary. Therefore, our intrepid trio is heading to that haven for harried moms everywhere. That hot bed of imaginary intrigue, that lair for the lonely and the lost. That anchorage for those who love outrageously obvious alliteration. They are going to the library. Let’s watch….

Here is my to-do-list for the parking lot of the library:

1. Ignore the howling banshee children in the backseat.
2. Race into a spot, without killing and/or maiming the reckless pedestrians roaming about.
3. Pop the trunk and dash out to grab to the stroller.
4. Immediately get drenched.
5. Say some bad words about Awkward Dad, who moved the double stroller into his car this weekend and failed to put it back.
6. Regroup.
7. Race to back seat and search desperately for an umbrella.
8. Do not find umbrella.
9. Almost say more bad words about Awkward Dad, but remember that the two irritating imps in the backseat are actually impressionable children whom you love dearly.
10. Say the bad words in head while running awkwardly toward the library door, trying not to drop any of the following: 13 videos, sopping wet and screaming child 1, 7 books, dignity, diaper bag, sopping wet and screaming child 2, keys.

So, we enter (aka fall into) the library; a little wet, a little loud, and a little late for toddler story time. I do not want to brave the ire of the mothers who do not like latecomers and Super Toddler does not seem interested in joining the hordes of children clustered around the librarian, singing The Wheels on the Bus. Instead, we head to the bathroom, seeking towels.

We emerge slightly drier but no calmer. We head into the children’s area, where Super Toddler busies himself with some puzzles and I plop on a couch to feed Super Baby. All is right with the world for about 4 minutes. Super Toddler appears to have a rival for the puzzles. A bigger kid comes over and snatches a puzzle piece away from him. Super Toddler, no slouch in the grabbing department, snatches it back. The big kid knocks the puzzle on the floor. Super Toddler knocks the rest of the puzzles on the floor. They both start laughing and pelting each other with puzzle pieces. I get to the battle site a little ahead of the librarian; Puzzle Rival appears to be sans parent. We all endure the librarian’s lecture on how throwing is bad and that we should respect each other, as well as watch our children better. I try to explain that only one of them is mine, but she is not interested and storms back to her desk. I turn to the boys to repeat the lecture, minus the part aimed at me, but they are gone.

I spy them, halfway across the children’s section, watching the rain run down the window. OK, well, that seems harmless enough, and it is, until they start making faces and blowing raspberries on the glass. They also find it hilarious to lift up their shirts and show their bellies to the empty parking lot. Again, this seems rather innocuous, if a little bizarre, and at least Super Toddler has found a friend. I am inclined to let it go. Plus, the librarian isn't looking right now. I am pondering how to wipe those smudges off the window before anyone sees them, when they turn their attention to the teenagers studying in the glassed-in carrel next door. Puzzle Rival moons them, causing noisy hilarity. That gets the librarian’s attention rather quickly, so I race over there and haul Super Toddler back to the children’s section. Puzzle Rival disappears, with the librarian hot on his trail.

I resume feeding Super Baby and Super Toddler resumes playing with puzzles. For about 30 seconds. Then he turns his attention to the giant box of legos. He is contently building an enormous structure when Story Time lets out. Swarms of children, trailed by tired looking moms, enter the room. Most head to the computers, but a few surround the toy table and Super Toddler’s growing building. Apparently, lego rivals are much more polite and a cooperative city starts to emerge. I breathe a sigh of relief and commence being ignored by other moms.

Super Baby falls asleep on my shoulder, so I get up and peruse videos to take home. How many Bob the Builder DVDs are there anyway? What on earth are Weebles? Is it weird that Bambi still makes me cry after 86 times? Is it weird that I am getting a little teary just holding the box? How bad a lie is it if I tell Super Toddler they were out of Barney? Armed with a plethora of new videos and confident that I will never understand the finer points of children’s entertainment or the origin of Weebles, I head to the book shelves.

As I have mentioned before, Super Toddler’s tastes run toward the regal and the Jurassic. Luckily, the library has a large selection of both; seems they (and numerous authors) understand the toddler brain quite well. However, I am once again thwarted in my efforts to find a book about Royal Dinosaurs; might have to write that sucker myself. My arms are starting to fall asleep, laden as they are with books, videos, and baby, so I head back to the couch and resume being ignored by my follow moms. Super Toddler’s structure has turned out to be a castle (big surprise), and he and his fellow lego fans have populated it with 2 giraffes, a turtle, 14 puzzles pieces, 3 bears, a horse with a pig on its back, and some garbage they picked off the floor.

I happen to glance toward the clock and am alarmed to find out what time it is. You see, I am watchless since Super Toddler somehow lodged mine between the wall and the TV stand. I suppose my laziness outweighs my need for a watch, as it has been there about 3 weeks. I realize that I have 30 minutes before Awkward Dad will be home. I also realize that he said something about bring some coworker home for dinner. 30 minutes to get us home, make dinner, and locate the source of that weird smell. 30 minutes and I am not quite sure I thawed the chicken.30 minutes and I know I didn’t clean up the toys. 30 minutes, well, 29 now. Across the internet divide, I can hear you all laughing.
Undeterred, I launch into hyper-speed. I swoop down on Super Toddler, and wrestle him away from his lego castle. This is not wise. I get him halfway to the front desk and he breaks the sound barrier. It is a code red, level 9, notch 11 on the amp kind of sound, and we are in a library. The baby starts slipping, so I have to put down the toddler to adjust. Super Toddler flings himself on the floor like he is dead. All be it a very loud dead. He is right in front of the checkout, near the most traffic. The timid stand to the side and stare at him, horrified. The cruel point and laugh. Most shoot me dirty looks, and the moms coolly ignore the whole situation and walk right over him. I throw my items on the self check-out and frantically search for my library card. I find it at the bottom of my diaper bag, clinging to some graham cracker remains and a coupon for diaper cream. I procede to check out at lightening speed. I somehow manage to fit 9 books and 6 videos in the diaper bag, breaking the zipper in the process. I pick up a wailing and flailing Super Toddler and lumber out to the parking lot. This journey is not remotely pleasant and seems to take a year, why did I park all the way in the back anyway? My personal Oregon Trail finally ends and I settle my children into their car seats. Feels like they have been yelling since we got here, oh that is right, they have. I throw the broken diaper bag onto the front seat and climb into the driver’s seat. Turning on the car, I stare at the clock and realize I have now 16 minutes to get home, clean my house, make dinner with frozen chicken, and not scare away my husband’s coworker. I glance up at the library and see Puzzle Rival's full moon shining on me through the rain soaked windshield. Guess that's what he thinks my chances are.
Puzzle Rival was right; the Awkward Family took the coworker out for dinner. Join us next week for another peek into the overwhelmingly ordinary drama and awful alliteration of The Adventures of Awkward Mom!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Awkward Mom vs. the Natural History Museum (part II)

Now, where were we? Oh yes, our triumphant trio were celebrating their ascent of those pesky Natural History Museum steps, only to learn of the presence of more stairs. Let’s watch and see how Awkward Mom deals with this one…I am guessing awkwardly, but that is just me.

Stairs. Stroller. Stairs. Stroller. Shoot! Now what? OK, well, doesn’t matter right now anyway because if my super nose is correct, Super Baby is due for a diaper change. There has to be a bathroom on this floor, right? I mean, fate can’t be that cruel…

And, for once, fate wasn’t. We find the bathroom and guess what? It is right next to an elevator! OK, so the elevator is about as old as some of the fossils in here, but at least I don’t have to hulk this stroller all the way upstairs. It does sorta sound like the elevator is being pulled upward by some very cranky ogres. However, the ogres are no match for the noise coming out of the second floor exhibit. It appears that we have found the 4th grade field trip.

The room is huge; filled with case after case of fossilized creatures, petrified wood, and colorful dioramas. I think time stopped around 1950 in here; it looks like an Indiana Jones movie. The back wall is covered in a dinosaur mural of epic proportions; I can’t tell from here if there is any dinosaur eating dinosaur action, but given the crowd of happy little boys near it, I am guessing yes. Two mammoths benignly reign in center of the room; their empty eye sockets gazing over the absolute chaos of what appears to be a hundred 8 year olds. Super Toddler starts clamoring to be freed about the same time Super Baby starts clamoring to be fed, so I find a sparsely populated bench and haul them out. I give strict instructions to the toddler to stay where I can see him. Then, I don’t see him for 15 minutes.

I am almost finished feeding the baby, catching glimpses of the toddler from time to time (or another little blonde boy, I can’t be sure), when a little girl clutching a dingy sheet of paper plops down and asks me when the mammoths went extinct. I tell her I don’t know, but maybe the exhibit that is 5 feet away from us will tell her. She sighs, but she does wander over to the mammoths. She returns, secretively writes something on her paper, and asks to hold the baby. I hand him to her, and we are sitting there very nicely, when Super Toddler appears to jet in from space. He yells something completely unintelligible at the little girl, throws her paper to the ground, and begins to pull Super Baby out of her arms. She is holding the baby under his arms, while the toddler is holding the baby’s feet, and, surprisingly, the baby is laughing his head off. I swoop in and rescue the Super Baby, who then begins to cry. I try to apologize to the little girl, but she doesn’t seem upset. In fact, she takes Super Toddler’s hand and they go skipping off toward the dinosaur mural. I am left to trail behind them, awkwardly pushing the stroller with my chest, holding a slightly damp piece of paper in one hand and a baby desperate for that piece of paper in the other.

Yep, there is some serious dinosaur eating dinosaur action going on in this mural. There is also a full size replica of a T-Rex fossil, standing over a half eaten something, it is quite intense. The little girl and Super Toddler are now playing tag with some other kids. They are happily throwing the worksheets they are supposed to be filling out. The teachers don’t seem overly concerned, so I lean against a display and watch this living snow globe. As I turn to check on the baby, who is merrily chewing on the piece of paper, I look straight into a jar filled with snake heads. Thankfully, it is so noisy in here, no one hears my scream. Apparently, I am leaning against a good old fashioned curiosity cabinet. This one contains (in no particular order) 6 stuffed monkeys, an icon made completely from seeds, 3 stuffed owls, the aforementioned jar of snake heads, an alligator replica, some human hair, a dozen poison vials, a stuffed raccoon, a petrified wasp’s nest, and a glass beaker that looks like it contains the unholy offspring of a toad and Darth Vader. I move.

The field trip is being called to the next floor, so I wipe the paper mustache off the baby’s face and tuck him into the stroller. Hunting down the toddler is a little harder, but I finally locate him, dancing on top of a petrified tree stump. I bribe him with fruit snacks and he climbs in the stroller. The groaning ogres take us to the next floor; the trip lasts the time it takes for Super Toddler to eat 7 fruit snacks and for the sugar to hit. He explodes out of the stroller the moment we step off the elevator. In retrospect, I suppose I should have buckled him in.

The third floor appears to be designed from Ted Nugent’s dreams. It is case after case of stuffed animals. There have to be 500 birds at least. A whole wall of butterflies. Water displays with half the glass painted blue and enormous fish, swinging silently, their wires barely visible. There are cases of insects, which complete confuse me, can one stuff an ant? I am gonna assume they are fake or this museum employs some of the most talented taxidermists alive. But, the crown jewels of this floor have to be the lifelike replicas of natural habitats found in Michigan, inhabited by scores of stuffed squirrels, deer, weasels, bears, and a complete opossum family (with 10 baby opossums!). They all stare at me with their unblinking shiny eyes, sure to haunt my dreams for weeks to come. I find Super Toddler as fast as possible, hogtie him into the stroller, and book it to the fourth floor.

The fourth floor is blissful quiet; the field trip hasn’t worked its way up here yet. I allow the toddler to get out of the stroller and look around. It is an interesting mix of studies. There is a long hallway with ecological posters and glass cases of minerals, satellites, and pictures of rockets. The planetarium’s door is halfway down on the left. There is a show in process, so we tiptoe by to be confronted by three choices. There is a door on our right side, which contains a child’s birthday party. A large SpongeBob piƱata is hanging in the middle of the room, under which a host of kids wearing party hats are eating pizza and drinking orange pop. Two signs point in opposite directions at the end of the hallway; Science to the left and Anthropology to the right. I am contemplating this when I turn to see that the toddler has appeared next to me, wearing a party hat and clutching a slice of pizza. Sigh.

We head toward Science. We examine the “cutting edge research into DNA” exhibit and Super Toddler attempts to climb the double helix. We move on to a display about river pollution, where Super Toddler examines river water through a microscope. I am feeling really proud of my skills as a mother, exposing my children to the wonders of science and raising such advanced, intelligent young men. That is how I am feeling until I realize that he is looking through the microscope with his closed eye. We breeze by displays about the communication techniques of bees, the breeding habits of grasshoppers, and the something about beetles. We wander over to a display about teaching sign language to Gorillas. A boy appears next to us and shows us his imitation of an ape. It seems the field trip has caught up with us.

We head into Anthropology and are met by displays regarding ancient tattooing practices, currency around the world, the burial traditions of ancient cultures, and a canoe overflowing with children. Super Toddler immediately wants in; I helplessly watch a horde of 4th grade girls abscond with my son. The teacher pats me on the shoulder, telling me not to worry; “the museum said it was ok.” Well, if the museum says it is ok for my son to be kidnapped by 6 girls in a canoe, I suppose I can’t argue with that. So, I don’t. Instead, I sit down on a bench and try really hard not to think about how on earth I am going to walk all the way back to our car.

Fear not, faithful readers! Awkward Mom made it back to her car…after a construction detour, a couple blisters, a run-in with a pothole, and completely exhausting her resources of patience, imagination, and snacks. I wanted to spare you the whole thing, you can thank me next week, when you join us for another episode of …Awkward Mom!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Awkward Mom vs. The Natural History Museum (Part I)

Boldly going where many have gone before (except with more tripping, less style, and no fun spaceships): Awkward Mom! Let us join our heroine, as she and her Super Sons explore the wonders of the Natural History Museum. Well, actually, let’s just see if she can get there first.

Super Toddler has a thing for dinosaurs. He also has the thing for princesses, but more on that later. Currently, like most 2 (and ½) year olds, Super Toddler is really really interested in dinosaurs. He has about 200 play dinosaurs and I am rounding down on that one. He plays with them for hours, creating mini-Bedrocks all over the house. Tiny villages that are crushed in the wee hours of the morning by a rare and dreadful creature know as half-awake Dad, but Super Toddler doesn’t care. He will just rebuild bigger and better. These dinosaur cities are incorporated into every aspect of his play. The dinosaurs stalk along the railroads that snake toward the Sesame Street playhouse, where they shop at Hooper’s Store, side by side with Batman and his gang. The dinosaurs routinely save the princess from the tallest tower in all the land (aka the supply closet); that is, the ones that didn’t imprison her there in the first place. The dinosaurs were little hats and tiny coats to go to work. Super Toddler has yet to tell me exactly where they work, but they are quite official as they march through the hallway. Yes, he likes his dinosaurs, so much so that dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets are currently the only thing he will eat voluntarily. And speaking of eating, he quite enjoys stalking and pretending to eat his little brother. Of course, I am not altogether sure if that is related to his dinosaur interest or something else entirely.

Anyway, Super Toddler has been talking endlessly about our early summer trip to the Field Museum in Chicago, where he got to see dinosaurs; real live dinosaurs. You see, they had this amazing display with animatronic dinosaurs; moving, growling, hatching out of eggs. The whole shebang. Now, I thought that maybe this was a little scary for Super Toddler. OK, maybe it was just a little scary for me. But that combined with the fact that Super Toddler insisted on being held throughout the whole thing (he who holds to the philosophy of why walk when you can run) had me convinced that Super Toddler wasn’t really ready to see dinosaurs in the scales, as it were. Boy, was I wrong. He will not stop talking about these “real” dinosaurs, especially the baby ones that popped out of the eggs. He has even posed the theory that Super Baby would be a whole lot cooler if he had popped out of an egg. And had horns.

So, in an attempt to deepen and widen Super Toddler’s dinosaur world view, we are currently heading to the Natural History Museum. OK, we may be doing this in an attempt to get out of the house, as well. Our little apartment was recently the battle site of our latest brawl with that nefarious villain known as the Cold; this 2 week siege (2 weeks!) was brutal, intense, and involved way too much knowledge of each other’s body fluids. We all need a change of scenery. Hence, our current trek to the Natural History Museum.

Now, I know that journeying into campus, just a few scant weeks after the students have returned, may be tempting fate, but that is where the museum is. Sometimes, you just have to grin, bear it, and deal with college students. Not often, if you can help it, but on occasion, it must be done. Happily, we have set out before noon, so not too many of them are about. Those that are must be tired or still drunk because they seem not too steady on their feet, weaving and darting into traffic like lemmings with a death wish. We avoid near collisions with about 6 of them before we find a parking place. OK, so it isn’t too close to the museum; I am pretty sure it is in the same time zone, so that is a plus. This is fine; a little walk never hurt anyone. Famous last words.

This section of this tale is extremely fast forwarded; you will thank me. Is this block 6 or 16? Sweetie, stay in the stroller. At least the baby is asleep. Yes, that fountain looks cool. No, you can’t go in it. I don’t care what those big kids are doing, you stay here. Sun block, where is my sun block? Please, stop dragging your feet. Yes, that is a pretty tree. Shush, honey, we are almost there. Where is your other shoe? In the car…that is where my sun block is. No, you cannot play in the fountain! Yes, that tree is very pretty. Wait a minute…were we here already? Construction, seriously?! Shoot.

We arrive at the entrance to the museum; I am a little out of breath and we are all slightly damp. I line up to go inside, sandwiched between a field trip of 4th graders and a father with twin toddlers. I am amazed by the composure and dedication of the teachers herding the school group and am openly staring and taking notes, so I do not notice the lack of a ramp until I hit the front wheels against the first step and go careening into Super Toddler and his section of the stroller. Super Toddler, the font of compassion that he is, starts screaming at me to get off him, while he beats me with Princess Bear and Frog Prince. Which (you guessed it) wakes the baby.

I assess the 4 steps in front of me; not a problem. (Told you that super stubbornness was in my arsenal.) However, these are not ordinary steps. These are super steep, 1950s-built, rock solid steps; not for the weak of heart and certainly not for those hauling unwieldy double strollers with angry, shouting children. These are not steps; these are stairs, full out stairs. I wrestle the door open with the side of my arm and hold it with my hip. I then wedge the front wheels up on the 3rd stair, forcing the stroller and its inhabitants into a 90 degree angle. I am not worried about the baby, who is shielded from potential harm in his bomb shelter of car seat, surround padding, 2 safety bars, and 2 sun shields. The toddler, thanks to the geniuses who designed this thing, is 1 strip of nylon away from plummeting to certain death. He is, naturally, delighted. At least he isn’t hitting me anymore. I wiggle walk the front of the stroller up to the 4th stair and pull the bottom half onto the 2nd stair, where it proceeds to get stuck. As I beat on the lower half of my stroller, the father with the twins, cooling monitoring the situation from behind me, tells me of a ramp at the service entrance around the block. How helpful. But he does awake my inner Hulk, which enables me to simply lift the stroller onto the landing. Success! (and while the door didn’t exactly slam in the dad’s face, I didn’t exactly hold it open for him either.) As I am celebrating my victory against the scary stairy steps, I look across the rotunda. What is that I spy? Beneath the exquisitely beautiful ceiling, to the left of the donation jar, and to the right of that bust of some important guy…2 more flights of stairs.

Let’s leave Awkward Mom for your regularly scheduled break. I mean, really, who can handle that much awkwardness at once, anyway? Will Super Toddler see dinosaurs? Will the baby stay awake for this visit? How on earth is Awkward Mom going to get up the second flight of stairs? We shall return with the other half of Awkward Mom vs. the Natural History Museum! The part where they actually go to the museum…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Awkward Mom vs the ER visit (part II)

We now return you to Awkward Mom vs the ER!

OK, here we are, the ER. OK, well, not quite the ER…the hospital where the ER is located. A hospital about the size of Rhode Island. A hospital that I have now circled twice, without seeing sign one for the ER…The good news (and bad/weird news, considering this is supposed to be an emergency) is that both boys are asleep and not aware of my complete lack of direction. Is that the sign there? No, false alarm. That’s the sign to the cafeteria. Hmmm….this could take awhile.

Exactly 16 minutes later…. Is that it? That tiny little sign over there, covered by some ivy? Why, yes it is! Emergency Room. OK…now, where to park? There are a ton of ambulance spots; I imagine I can’t park there. Looks like my option is valet parking; seriously? Well, I am not getting lost again, so I better valet. I am sure these are competent drivers, entrusted to deal with people in a crisis. I can deal with this. So, this guy looks about 13, there is no reason to hold that against him. I am sure he is a very reasonable and efficient person. Why, sure, here are my keys. I just need to go into the ER, that way? Thanks, just give me a minute to get my stuff. And while I am opening my trunk, to get out the stroller, he takes off. He starts driving my car. Away from me. With my sleeping children in the back seat.

Well, I now have proof that I can fly. I somehow teleport to the driver’s side window, screaming like some avenging banshee, scaring the pants off this kid. I say some things I am not particularly proud of, but he stops the car. I reclaim my sleeping children and wake them with crushing embraces. This gets the baby crying, so his loving older brother starts telling him to stop it, while he throws toys at him. The decibel level increases to ear-splitting, as we head into the ER lobby. Well, at least we are now acting like it is an emergency.

I am rushed to the head of the line as I enter the lobby; I think the screaming stroller I am pushing ahead of me might have something to do with that. We are then rushed into a little room, where they attach some monitors to the baby before I am able to convince them that it is the toddler in need of their attention. They do not seem convinced. I give the baby one of the toddler’s toys, which delights him to no end. Only then, do they turn their attention to the toddler, who is screaming himself; for now he is missing a toy that not two minutes ago he was more than happy to bean at his brother’s head.

The nurse tells me that they have to weigh the toddler and he is too large to weigh in the little scale. So, he will have to stand on the big scale. I patiently explain that he is refusing to stand and this is impossible. As I say this, the toddler slides off the chair and walks down the hallway. I am packing up our stuff under the withering gaze of the nurse, when I am spared the wasting-hospital-time lecture that is posed on her lips. Thankfully, the toddler starts limping about 5 steps in and collapses 13 steps in. And yes, I am aware of how awful that thankfully is.

We are put in a room in the Children’s Urgent Care section of the hospital. The room is a fluorescent nightmare, complete with a leering Buzz Lightyear painted on the frosted glass window to the right of the door. We sit here for the time it takes the toddler to eat 6 graham crackers and to look at all the books they have on the shelf. I am trying to get him interested in HIPPA rules and regulations when the doctor comes in. She looks to be the younger sister of the guy who kidnapped my children in the parking lot. She asks me to tell her what happened, which I do. She spends a lot of time asking about the fall that I didn’t see and she looks in the toddler’s ears and nose. She writes down a lot of stuff and I am trying not to read it upside-down, but I think I catch the word DCFS. She is leaving the room, so I ask her if she wants to see his leg. She agrees, and she pokes and prods at him for awhile. He completely ignores her and eats a 7th graham cracker. She then tells him that she wants to see him walk. He just looks at her and slides to the floor, where he proceeds to lounge and eat yet another graham cracker. So, she walks purposefully across the room and pulls this little red thing out of her pocket. She holds it out and presses it toward the toddler. It squeaks loudly and she waves it a little. I think it is a dog toy.

The toddler looks at her like she is crazy. Heck, even the baby looks at her like she is crazy. I feel bad for her, so I tell the toddler to go see what treasure she has in her hand. He gives me a look that heralds his upcoming adolescence, but he does walk across the room to see the mysterious squeaking item in her hand. She watches him limp, makes some notes, pockets her dog toy, and leaves. The toddler starts crying about the missing toy, which gets the baby going. And we have run out of graham crackers.

I am feeding the baby in a rather soothing rocking chair, as the toddler looks at a book on the bed. Things seem almost relaxed when the nurse explodes through the door. Her panic quickly turns to annoyance and she points to the toddler, who is slightly behind me on the left. I turn to watch him laugh as he repeatedly presses the call button that is mounted on the bed frame. I apologize profusely and she assures me that it happens all the time, as she disconnects the call button. She shuts the door rather firmly, but I could be imagining that. We resume waiting.

A rather important looking doctor rushes in and wakes us all up. He convinces the toddler to walk around without the aid of dog toys; I am thoroughly impressed. He pokes and prods the toddler; saying he doesn’t think anything is broken but we should be sure. He is going to order some pain medication and some X-rays. Joy. I (politely, I promise) ask that since the toddler is not complaining of any pain, do we really need medicine? But the toddler has heard the magic word; he likes the candy tasting medicine he gets when he has a fever. He starts to howl and carry on, so the doctor merely points to him, as if this illustrates his level of pain. I try to explain, but the very important doctor is already leaving the room.

The nurse comes in with the candy, I mean, medicine. The toddler is thrilled and drinks it like he is dying of thirst. He proceeds to run around the room. He is still limping, slightly, so this isn’t very easy and he knocks over quite a few things. I am picking up the tongue depressers and don’t see the X-ray technician arrive. She picks up the toddler and starts to leave the room; I am alerted to this development by the toddler’s screaming. What is with these people and kidnapping my children? I (not so politely, I’m being honest) inquire if I can join my toddler on this journey to the X-ray room. I am told that I may not. I ask why not. She tells me that I have to watch my baby, as if I would forget this detail. I ask if I may bring my baby and stand outside the door, which she agrees to, after more thought than I would have thought necessary. However, I am allowed to follow them down the hallway. As long as I am in sight, the toddler seems satisfied to let this woman carry him. The baby is, of course, sleeping.

We settle outside the X-ray door, as the technician enters and closes the door. My last glimpse of my son’s face tells me all I need to know, and I debate alerting the tech, her aide, and these poor unsuspecting bystanders in the hallway to the impending situation. I doubt they would believe me, so I calmly place my hands over the baby’s ears and wait. 1…2…3…and a piercing shriek begins to emerge from behind the door. It rapidly builds to a noise I am imagining resembles the combination of a herd of angry elephants, 17 race cars gunning their engines, and an atomic bomb going off. This seems to go on for a year. Everyone in the hallway stops and stares at the door. Eventually, some of the peripheral yelling seems to ebb and the lone air raid siren that is my son’s voice emerges; loud, clear, and deafening. The knob starts to rattle and a woman behind me gasps. Everyone’s eyes are riveted to the door, waiting for the horror to be revealed. Will blood come pouring out, like in The Shining? Will some horrific Frankenstein’s Monster lumber out? What could it be? Who could make such an awful sound?

The door swings open, bangs against the wall; revealing a rather disheveled and out of breath X-ray technician and my screaming child. Everyone is surprised, especially me, as this technician is different from the one who brought us. This one meets my questioning eyes and tells me that my son has quite a left hook. I try to apologize, but she seems more interested in getting this loud, wiggling mess out of her arms and into mine. She then turns around and runs back into the X-ray room, slamming the door in my face. I guess we have to find our own way back to the Buzz Lightyear room.

We eventually find our way back, where we wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, the dog toy doctor returns, hands me some paperwork, and tells me the bill will be mailed to me. She is walking out of the room, so I ask her what is wrong with my son. She says that nothing is wrong with him. I track down a nurse, who tells me that the X-rays showed no breaks and he must have twisted something. I can give him medicine every 4 hours, which causes the toddler to dance around the room. She tells me that I can leave, but it kinda comes out more would I please leave, now.

I gather everything up and head to the parking lot. The kid sees me coming and pushes his co-worker my way. They get my car for me and, as I am loading it with the kids and the 857 accessories they come with, I notice the kid holding my door open for me. Now, isn’t that nice? And after I yelled at him too. There is some sweetness left in the world, that is for sure. I get in and he is still holding onto the door. OK, well, thank you. Really, thanks. And then it occurs to me. One usually tips when valet parking. And I usually have cash in the car. But, usually isn’t my friend today. I try to explain this to the guy, but he just snorts at me, says some of the same things I said to him earlier, and walks away. Oh well, I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t kidnap my kids again!

They just don’t come more awkward than that. Just wanted to alert our faithful readers that no X-ray technicians were seriously injured in the retelling of this tale. Tune in next time, when Awkward Mom will continue her efforts to get her children to adulthood with as few injuries and therapy bills as possible!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Awkward Mom vs the ER visit (part 1)

Well, faithful readers, you all knew this day was coming. This rite of passage for all moms, awkward, superhero, or otherwise; the ER visit. Let’s join Awkward Mom as she stumbles through this momentous day with her usual lack of anything approximating grace.

Turn green. Turn green. Turn green. I have to get to the ER! Maybe I should invest in an airplane. All the real superheroes have them; I could call it Awkward Air. Oh, I like the ring of that…maybe… Why are all those cars beeping at me? Oh! The light is green.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking. “Awkward Mom, why are you driving your angel to the ER, is he hurt? And if he is, where are the whirling lights and traffic clearing sirens of the ambulance you should have called? And why do you seem so calm? Annoyed, perhaps, but calm?" I hear you, ummm, whoever you are. The thing is; last night the toddler fell while running around. This, of course, happened when I was not looking. He hobbled into the room, crying. Awkward Dad was home, so the two of us examined him head to toe for injuries and debated taking him to the ER for the better part of an hour. By this point, the toddler was again running around, so it seemed rather pointless.

However, this morning, he wakes up and refuses to walk. Just refuses. He oozes out of bed, like some prehistoric creature beaching itself on land, or in his case, the toy box. Amazingly, he manages to get around most of the morning like this. He repeatedly tells me that nothing hurts, as he lets me twist his ankle this way and that way. He ignores me completely as I poke his knee, his calf, his foot. He tells me he just wants to lie there and color, as he crawls over to his crayons. However, after waiting 18 months for this child to walk (it’s true!), there is no way I am going back to him crawling. I put in a video for the slug lying on the living room floor, and I call the doctor’s office. While I am on hold, the toddler starts an enormous melt-down, complete with horror-inducing screams. This wakes the baby, who joins in this chorus of chaos. I am convinced something is crawling out of the TV and melting their faces off, a la Raiders of the Lost Ark, so I go tearing into the living room, just as the nurse comes on the line. Of course, the only thing wrong is that the video is skipping. I explain the not walking situation to the nurse. She says, “If he is in that much pain, you need to take him to the ER, right now!” She hangs up before I can explain further. Guess the doctor’s office is out of the question.

Happily, the video rights itself and the call to the ER is made during a quiet moment, so I am able to convey the situation a little more accurately. This nurse tells me that Urgent Care is my best option, which pleases me. She then informs me that I will need to use the ER entrance anyway, which pleases me less. So, off we go to the ER. OK, well, not right away. It takes about 20 minutes, 7 bribes, 11 action figures, 2 stuffed animals, 4 Starbursts (don’t judge), and a blanket to get the toddler pried off the living room floor and into the car. The baby is less vocally demanding, but he requires about as much stuff. This requires 5 trips to and from the car, which, considering I have to carry the toddler, is rather light.

And we are off. I am racing through yellow lights and generally trying to act like I know what to do in an emergency. I am also trying to act like this is an emergency because no one in this car is helping me. The baby is sound asleep. And the toddler is chatting quite happily to his action figures, who are engaged in an extremely long and complex siege on the evil ogre’s lair, which, coincidentally, is located right near the back of Momma’s head. This provokes the extremely un-Mom thought that if he doesn’t need to go the ER now, he is going to by the end of this car trip.

Let’s leave Awkward Mom with her Un-Mom thoughts, for the moment. The Evil Plague of Death (code name: the cold), has struck the Awkward Family yet again, and Awkward Mom’s story telling powers have taken a hit. Tune in tomorrow (or maybe the day after, if the sinuses are still under attack) for the continuation of the ER Visit. You won’t be disappointed….it has it all; screaming babies, disgruntled car valets, and, horror of horrors, X-rays. More to come…

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Awkward Mom vs The Grocery Store

Awkward Mom heads that evil necessity feared by all superhero momkind; The Grocery Store. This disaster zone is a hotbed of potential meltdowns and whining fits alike. Aisle after aisle of shiny glass jars, just within the baby’s grasp, and row upon row of financial hazards, right at the toddler’s eye level. Can she survive this journey with her pocketbook and sanity preserved? Let’s find out, in this episode of Awkward Mom!

Well, it only took us 36 minutes to leave the house, a new record! The toddler is decked out for the occasion; pink sparkly crown, Toy Story sunglasses, sleeveless t-shirt with no less than 17 stains, swim trucks, and no shoes. Wait, what?! No shoes? How did that happen? Shoot. Well, he’ll be riding in the cart…hope the no shirt no shoes no service thing only applies to those old enough to read the sign.

I pull the Awkward-Mobile into the parking lot and search for a spot next to a cart corral. I finally find one, about a thousand miles from the entrance, but that is ok. You see, I am hoping to find a cart in said corral, so that I can pop the boys into the cart and wheel them into the store in one smooth movement. No long, tripping, stumbling, car seat bruising my leg, toddler running into traffic, dropping items like some modern-day Hansel and Gretel….no, no, not today. I do find the cart; happy day! I affix the car seat to the front without waking the baby, like the pro that I am. I sweep the toddler into the basket in a graceful arc, while closing and locking the door with my leg. I have bags, coupons, diapers bag, wallet, and sanity still intact. I am amazing.

However, my plan for a seamless trip from parking-mode to shopping-mode is quickly derailed when (halfway to the store) the toddler starts screaming. Apparently, we left Princess Bear in the car. So, we trudge back to get her. She is really a blanket baby bear that was supposed to be the baby’s special toy. However, that bear-napping was so long ago; she now officially reigns in the toddler’s royal court of lovies. We rescue her from the confines of the car and head storeward again.

This time (again at the halfway point), the toddler declares that Princess Bear has informed him that we must get the frog out of the car because she needs to kiss him. I, politely, inquire if Princess Bear could transform the love of her life later, but this is met with screaming, flailing, and way too much stranger attention. I quickly rush back to the car to claim the frog for Princess Bear. Once they are happily reunited and smooching in the cart, we are, yet again, on our way.

There are exactly 4 more stops on our way to the store; once to watch a dragonfly, twice to pick up blowing plastic bags, and once because the toddler mistakes an older gentleman for Santa Claus and demands a hug. After extracting my son from a surprised, yet accommodating man, we make it to the front door. It has now started to rain, but the baby is still asleep. I am calling it a win.

We enter the store with the trepidation I have only seen in horror movies. Of course, my list is a foot long and requires us to venture into every aisle in the place. Best get to it, I suppose. Our trip to get Awkward Dad’s razors is quick and painless, so I gain a little confidence. I start to move a little faster, speeding down the beauty aisle, grabbing shampoo, Mr. Bubble, and some soap. I even stop to admire the lipsticks. This is when the store employee catches up with me and asked me to kindly return the “Floor Wet” sign. I stare at her until she points to the front of the shopping cart. I crane my neck around the car seat and see the sign, stuck to the cart, looking like the figurehead on a rather disorganized ship. I detach it and sheepishly hand it to her. The toddler starts to yell at her to give it back, finally waking the baby, who immediately joins in the yelling, and my newfound confidence takes a serious tumble.

Aware of the stares, I slink toward the baby section to pick up some wipes. A few coos and teething rings seem to placate the baby, for the moment. The toddler relents and stops looking for his missing sign, but now he wants the toys that seem to be everywhere around us. Wasn’t the toy aisle somewhere else yesterday? Great. I bust out of this section in record time, leaving a whine trail and a scream cloud in my wake.

We rush through the produce aisle; mushrooms, green beans, some apples and bananas, onions. I turn around a moment too long and return to find the baby chewing a garlic bulb. Guess we are buying garlic today. I throw the tomatoes in with the toddler before I remember our own personal La Tomatina from last week. I quickly rescue them and tuck them into the space between the car seat and front basket. The toddler reminds me to get grapes; apparently Princess Bear likes them. Once Princess Bear is satisfied, we head for frozen foods. I am forced to put the chicken and fish on the bottom shelf of the cart after the toddler claims it freezes him "to death like a Death Ray." Hmm...might be time to monitor Daddy and Son time on Saturday mornings.

We move to dairy; I have to dissuade the toddler from drinking the milk then and there. Ditto for the yogurt. I, myself, am tempted to eat some cheese, so I make a note that we all need to eat before heading to the store. The baby is happily chewing on some strap from his car seat and doesn’t seem affected by hunger in the slightest. We breeze through the baking, beverage, ethnic food, and pasta aisles on adrenaline alone. I take great pains to avoid the candy aisle, and lose a battle with the toddler over fruit snacks in the cereals aisle. Oh well, I can’t win them all.

We get in line before I realize that I forgot bread. Out of line and back to aisle 3. We get back in line and I figure out that I didn’t get the eggs. On our way to get them, I find that the toddler has grabbed some hummus and a cake mix out the cart that was in front of us. I rush back to give it to a rather (understandably) upset woman, but, of course, forget the eggs again. We acquire the eggs and return to the back of the now 4 mile long line. I keep my Super-Mom vision tuned onto the boys, as we inch closer to the stacks of shiny candy and magazines flanking the checkout, while managing to peruse “10 ways to get a beach ready body.” Of course, while I am distracted by the news that “Batboy is alive, well, and being adopted by Angelina Jolie,” the toddler dumps an entire box of Trident gum into the cart. I get most of it back on the shelf before our turn to put the groceries on the belt. The toddler wants to help, so he stands up, promptly crushing the bread. Why did I put that in there? No matter. He hands me the items in an eclectic order; beans, yogurt, shampoo, hairclip that was in the cart already, Princess Bear, butter, the baby’s teething ring, some gum (I guess I need some anyway), onions. I realize he has punched a hole in the mushroom container and it is half empty. He smiles up at me with some still in his teeth…yes; we definitely need to eat before coming to the store. The baby can’t see us, so he starts to fuss. Luckily, a grandmotherly type is right behind us to make a few faces, while I haul the rest of the groceries onto the belt.

Bagging and paying goes surprisingly well, but trouble waits just beyond the service desk. The toddler is relatively fearless, as a general rule, but he does have one super-villain that strikes terror into his heart. The horse at the grocery store has frightened the toddler since he was the baby of the Awkward Family; their legendary battles have caused a series of meltdowns and crying fits in decibels that cause bleeding from the ears. And this menace, this foe, has to be passed to get out the door. I rev up to speed by him, but the toddler has super-vision, of course. A little whine starts in the back of his throat, a deceptively low hum. This rapidly builds like an incoming swarm of wasps until it is a full out howl, causing whiplash all around us, as concerned parents start looking around for their kids. Finding them, usually happily playing in carts, by the candy machines, or on the horse, their looks turn to anger. We all know how fast one child’s tears can start a chain reaction. I start to run, causing the baby to laugh, as he bumps and rolls on his own personal rollercoaster. I am forced to slow down when the toddler starts flinging our groceries out of the cart, seemingly in an attempt to pelt the horse with apples, onions, and a copy of People magazine. That or he has a new super-villain, the startled little girl riding the horse. This is new and decidedly not something I want to be on the news for. Thankfully, the toddler’s aim is very bad. I rescue our items from the floor and hit into hyper-drive, bursting out of the store like I just shot down the Death Star.

Panting, I skid to a halt, right before we barrel into traffic. I take stock of the situation. The baby is asleep again. The toddler is happily making his bear and frog kiss. I am a sweaty mess, clinging to the cart and a slightly damp copy of People Magazine. Ok. Ok. Well, we are alive. We have most of the groceries that we need. It only took 2 hours. I am ready to call that shopping trip a near-success, when I realize that I have no idea where I parked.

Awkward Mom survives another outing with only minor wounds to herself and her pride. Where will Awkward Mom’s plucky, if often misguided, adventures take her next time? Will the toddler vanquish his horse foe once and for all? And where exactly is the car? For these answers and more, tune in next time for more Awkward Mom!

Awkward Mom vs The Spray Park

As we tune in, Awkward Mom is making her way out of the relatively comfortable confines of Ann Arbor into its surrounding towns; towns fraught with peril! Well, not quite peril, but certainly new ways to embarrass our heroine. She is pulling into a lush and sunny park, but what evil lurks beneath this picturesque setting? Let’s find out in this latest adventure of Awkward Mom!

OK, this must be the place…..large stone structures that certainly look like they spray water. No water, but perhaps it is on a timer. We are early. I am so proud that we are early, and I remembered everything. EVERYTHING. This time we are going to be prepared. We are going to impress. We are going to make friends. So, I brought everything. Extra clothes (both sizes), extra diapers (both sizes, in normal and swim!) sun block, bug spray, chapstick, and another spray….not sure what that one is, but I am sure it is important. Plus, I have a changing pad and about a million of wipes….no repeat of the Y incident here. I have a blanket to sit on for our picnic lunch; a healthful feast which consists of water, granola, and organic fruits. The toddler has those fancy sandals that can get wet; he is also wearing a new swim suit and an inch of sun block. The baby is wearing a festive green and blue onsie, a huge hat, and another inch of sun block. Everyone matches and everyone is relatively clean; oh yes, we are gonna fit in today. Now, I just have to stash this Diet Pepsi in the car with the decidedly non-organic Finding Nemo fruit snacks, load up the stroller, and we are good to go!

Hmmm…no one is here yet. Not exactly sure how the spray part of this spray park works. I have walked through it, hoping for sensors. I have touched random parts of the structure. I even did a tap dance in the middle of the thing, to the toddler’s delight, but no water. Hmmm…could it be broken? Are we here on the wrong day? Just as I am contemplating heading home, as well as an interesting hand print built into the middle of the middle structure, a child appears, seemingly from space. He places his hand on the hand print, grins at me, and flees. I have 2 seconds to ponder what the rumbling noise could be, before the toddler, the baby, and I are drenched. Flying from every apparatus surrounding us is the water; water I was foolishly wishing for 2 seconds ago. The toddler is thrilled. I am not.

Leaving the toddler to delight in the sudden rain, I make my soggy way through the equally sudden throngs of children. The hand print kid must have heralded them secretly. Luckily, I left my supplies on this dry bench, before my ill-fated search for water. Now, I will just get a towel, dry us off, and commence making life-long friends for myself and my children. A little seed of panic settles into my stomach; towels were on that list I was so proud of, weren’t they? Of course, they must have been. I, a superhero mom, must have realized that spray parks spray water, which causes wet children, which causes the need for towels…..right? I MUST have.

I have been rooting through my bag with increased unease; now I start to unload everything onto the bench, shoving a little girl onto the ground in the process. They must be in here, I must have brought towels. I start obsessively thinking the word “towel”, as if my mental prowess could conjure towels out of the air. Sadly, that is not one of my superpowers, and alas, my panic seed was correct. I have no towels. I have nothing resembling a towel. Except the blanket we were planning to picnic on, so I wrap the baby in the blanket, repack the bag, and settle into my personal puddle on this very empty bench. Sigh.

This morning is progressing in some frustrating directions, but I am stubborn. (That is one of my super powers.) The toddler quickly joins a group of kids, whose main aim appears to be: start the sprayers and then attempt to stay as dry as possible. This involves a great deal of running, screaming, leaping, and fleeing about; which all happen to be superpowers of the toddler. He is in his element and not in need of any orbiting on my part. I decide to take on some of his enthusiasm, so, as I feed the baby on this soggy bench, I put on a cheerful face and look about for potential mom friends.

I spy several candidates. Rather messy hairdos? Check. Laugh lines? Check. Wrinkled clothes? Check. Perpetually loving if rather hapless expressions as they watch their children shriek about with mine. Double Check. I am delighted to notice that some of them are wet as well; the fact that they have remembered to bring towels is something I will just have to ignore. The baby gorged and sound asleep in my shoulder, I head over. My enthusiasm is rewarded; they are delightful! We are chatting away about kids and the park and moving; no one has mentioned a milestone or asked me what my job is or suggested I see their stylist immediately. Ah; bliss. This is perfect. Well, it is perfect until a new mom sidles over and pokes me in the arm.

Is that your son?

Why yes. This is my youngest; he is terribly sweet and wonderful. His name is…

No. Not the baby. Is that your toddler over there in the puddle?

My heart freezes, as I, and my new found friends, turn to watch my eldest. The heir, my first-born and joy of my life. My toddler is lounging in a puddle in the middle of the spray park, lazily drinking the water that the right side of his face is half-submerged in, singing to the clouds above; looking for all the world like a very contented beached whale.

He really shouldn’t drink that, this tattle-tale mom tells me, quite unnecessarily. Does she really think I don’t know that?

Yes, yes, thank you. I am feeling many things toward this woman and gratitude is not one of them, but I don’t know what else to say to her. My new found friends begin to drift toward their own, suddenly angelic, children, so I gather up the baby, my wet blanket, and what is left of my pride and head over to the puddle. None of the children are paying him any mind, but he has gathered quite a collection of horrified mothers to gape and point, all craning their necks to see which irresponsible mom will come forth and claim him. Who among us is going to admit they let their child drink spray park water?

As I near the puddle and it becomes clear that I am this animal-child’s mother, the pack of moms begin to look away uncomfortably. Wickedly, I feel like waving at them. I don’t. Instead, I lean over and tell the toddler to get up and stop drinking the water. Happily, he does get up. But then he glances at his audience and smiles a secret smile. He shoots me something that looks an awful lot like a wink, crouches down, and begins to drink the water like a dog. An alarmed murmur flares up around us and the toddler starts laughing so hard that he is blowing bubbles into his puddle.

Guess it is time to go. Once he has a reaction he likes, he is gonna keep doing the same thing to get that reaction bigger and better. There is no way I want to live in infamy as the mom with the puddle-drinking son, so I haul him up out of the puddle and cart him to our waiting stroller. By now, he is howling and flailing, which drenches me anew and wakes the baby, who immediately joins his brother’s chorus of screams. I try to dry him with the blanket, but in his panic to be away from me, he works it up onto his head, ghost-style. I somehow hoist the baby onto my hip and strap this slippery, blanketed child into the stroller, as I try in vain to ignore the stony stares of disapproval coming at me from all directions. Once the baby is also ensconced in this screaming stroller of shame, I toss my wet hair over my shoulders and hold my head up high. I leave the spray park proudly because that is what superhero moms do.

Besides, and thankfully, we do not live in this town.

Awkward Mom strikes again, with her own bravery and steadfastness and …well….complete and utter lack of grace under pressure. But she will try again, and she will live to attend another playdate. Join us next time for another heart racing and shame inducing episode of Awkward Mom!

Awkward Mom vs The Swim Lesson

As we join our nervous heroine, she has just embarked on that right of passage for moms everywhere.....the baby's first swim lesson. As this baby is not the first baby, this necessitates that the toddler be left in the play area for the duration of the baby's swim lesson; another first for Awkward Mom. What could go wrong? Well, as it is Awkward Mom, everything. Let's watch as she battles family locker rooms, The YMCA PA, and that nefarious foe, the swim suit....

OK...things seem to be going well. The toddler took to the playroom, after a brief crying spell about why he couldn't go swimming. It helped that he couldn't see the pool from the play area. I managed to change the baby into a swim diaper and swim suit with some deftness, and I even manged to change into my own suit without dropping him...major feat. Now, if only something could be done about the fact that this swim suit makes me look like a hippo. No matter. This is a swim class for 6 month-olds and their mothers; I am sure we all look a little less than perfect. The pre-baby body is long gone and I am sure my fellow mothers will all understand. I mean, we can't all look like that lovely single woman over there, all tanned and toned. I wonder what she is doing with that baby? Must be holding him for her older sister or something. She is coming over here. To the baby and mommy class. And it is her baby. Great. Oh well, at least there should be some other moms...perhaps some other moms with more, well, just more. Oh, she is talking to me....telling me that we are the only moms in this class...and isn't that just too funny. Yes...hilarious.

It is ok once we are in the water and most of me is hidden from view. The baby and I are doing well; he is splashing and I am pleased that the toned mom's baby is doing the same thing. All is relaxed and well with the world until the PA system comes on and the man from the movie trailers starts talking. You know, the man who narrates about meteorites hitting the earth or killers stalking the woods in that voice that sends shivers down your spine and causes you to huddle your popcorn to your chest. Well, I found out that he moonlights at the YMCA. He comes on and says "Will Awkward Mom (actually they used my secret identity, which I am not telling you because it is a secret, of course) please report to the play area, immediately."

I wasn't aware I could fly...must be a untapped superpower. The baby and I launch ourselves out of the water and are in the family locker room in about 5 seconds flat. I remember to place (ok throw) a towel under him as I place him on the ground. Yes, the YMCA locker room floor; no time for fancy-dancy changing tables now. I rip off my suit as a family of 4 little boys, one dangerously close to puberty, enter the locker room. Their mother is bringing up the rear, so they reach me first and have an uninterrupted ogle feast before their mother can assess the situation. She is, understandably, horrified, and quickly fires off a text from the phone in her hand. No doubt to DCFS after my baby rolls over her foot, encased in a towel and speeding away at an alarming rate.

As she hands me the baby, I try to dodge the lasers of disapproval that shoot out of her eyes. Focusing on putting on my pants is a good distraction. I think I get one of the clasps of my bra latched, but it works itself loose later, so there is no telling. The shirt is completely wet and rather useless but I throw it on anyway as I run down the hallway. I am pretty sure that I break a land speed record and I arrive at the play area; panting and wet, with a screaming baby balled up somewhere in the towel in my arms. I have no idea where my diaper bag or shoes are. I arrive to see my son, my first born, the apple of my eye; alive and playing house happily with some kids I have never seen before. I rapidly search the room and see all three childcare workers sitting in a row across the room from the children, seemingly as far away as they can get. Relived that my angel is alive, I start to approach the toddlers and the adults seem to brace themselves.

"Poopy diaper." The lead childcare worker tells me, quite unnecessarily, it turns out. The smell of pure evil hits me from step one into the doorway. No wonder they paged me. This smell is about 2 seconds away from forming a vapor and choking all life out of the room. I want to be able to use the babysitting service again, so I quickly cross the room, shifting the towel/baby and picking up his brother with my other arm. This is not an easy feat, as the toddler, not remotely concerned or affected by his own stench, does not want to leave his new friends. He howls as I stumble back to the locker room, searching for my diaper bag, a changing table, and some shoes...not too concerned if they are even mine at this point.

As I enter the locker room and find my belongings, the toddler stops howling. As I plop him onto the changing table, I am so relived that I don't think to ask why a screaming toddler would just suddenly stop screaming. He started talking very excitedly about something, but I am rooting around in the bag and don't really listen. Lots of baby items in here...extra swim diapers, extra baby diapers, diaper rash cream, towels, swim suits, plastic bags, toys, my wallet, a granola bar, some earrings; everything a well equipped mother should have....if she only has a baby. There are no toddler diapers or extra clothes. And there are no wipes. Wait, what?! I have no wipes. That is not possible. Every mother has wipes. All the time. Always.

Nope. No wipes.

I am searching desperately in the bathroom for something, anything, to clean this child with. Paper towels. I find paper towels. I will not describe what happens next for the more sensitive reader. Needless to say, it was not for the faint of heart. By the end, I have the toddler in a diaper way too small for him and no clothes. Oh well, it is summer; he'll blend. I am packing them up to take them home when I finally catch the toddler's relentless monologue. "Pool. Pool. Pool. Swimming like a fish. Nemo is a fish. Swim, swim, swim."

Oh....no.

"Sweetie, your swim lesson is tomorrow. We are going home."

"Swim. Swim. Fishie. Fishie."

"Not today, angel." I start to the door.

He walks toward the pool entrance. "Nemo. Nemo."

I take his hand gently and try to guide him to the door.

"Pool?"

"No, honey."

The honey isn't out of my mouth when a sound like a tornado siren starts emanating from my child. Of course, a lovely and unsuspecting family walks in, just as the toddler rips away from me and runs toward the pool, slips on the wet locker room floor, and crashes into a door. Before this, his scream was loud enough to peel paint. This new noise can be heard from space. I struggle to pick him up until the nice father (of the equally nice family that just wants to go swimming in peace) takes the baby from my arms and holds my bag. I scoop the toddler up and, checking for and finding no broken bones, I turn to leave. I debate leaving the baby with this nice and normal family, but he most likely has awkward genes and I won't want to wish that on these nice people. I reclaim him and we all lumber out of the locker room.

Once again, Awkward Mom faces the untold perils of motherhood with...well...not quite grace. Adequacy, bordering on the frantic, more like. Join us next time (in 24 hours in fact) when she will face the insidious lair of the YMCA once again.

Awkward Mom vs the Children's Museum

We now return you to the ongoing adventures of the Amazing Brothers and their side-kick, Awkward Mom! When we last left our intrepid trio, they were preparing to face that foe of awkward moms everywhere….The Children’s Museum…..

OK, maybe no one saw us enter the room. Enter…more like fall, but anyway, maybe no one saw…..You see, what happened was…..the baby is teething. This makes him rather slippery, and I am trying to keep him up on my hip, but his head control isn’t exactly where we would like it. Most of the time he is fine, but every couple steps or so, he’s reeling back like he is about to fall off a ledge. He does about the time that the toddler, who is really excited about the promise of kids to play with, trips over his feet and mine. So, I am adjusting my hold on the baby, hitting the Niagara Falls of droll and desperate not to drop him, while I am tripping over the toddler, and it doesn’t help that I am wearing those cute chucky heeled shoes with the flared bell bottomed jeans. But they make me look taller…and thinner. You see, I don’t want a repeat of last time. Last time we were here, I was wearing a skirt from the back of the closet that really ought to stay there and some flip flops that showed, in total glory, my un-pedicure toes and dry feet. The shirt covered with spit-up I can’t really do anything about, but at least I am sure I remembered to comb my hair and brush my teeth this morning. Pretty sure.

Anyway, so all this juggling happens right at the entrance to the toddler play area, which is, as evidenced by my toddler’s excitement, full of kids. It is also full of moms, to my utter dismay. I mean, I want to connect to other moms, but not all at once. And not when they are all witness to our entrance, I mean flop, into the room. The toddler out and out falls, skids across the floor, pops up, and takes off for the gaggle of kids by the play kitchen. I wobble on my heels, while holding the baby aloft, like some sort of baby beacon, and end up doing some sort of wiggle dance that is 1 part teeter and 2 parts stumble and no part grace.

OK…so there is a bit of a silence when we land, just a little one. It is quickly engulfed by the melodic tones of children happily screaming. Ah…ok, I can do this. We find a bench near some moms and sit down. Ok, plop down, but the baby is hungry……again. So, I feed him and settle in for some peace, if not quiet. Maybe some mom bonding. Yes, today is the day. Today we will make friends! I will be approachable but not needy. Relaxed yet not careless. I will impress. I will be charming. I will…be covered in spit up. Hey baby, a little warning next time. Oh, you didn’t only get me this time, baby. I am so sorry, ma’am. No, you don’t have to leave. It is ok. Here let me wipe that off you; can’t imagine how he gets it so far. Maybe he will be in sports or something. Not that projectile spitting is a sport…..yet. Oh, you have to go, ok….nice to meet you, sorta. Yep, yet again, the baby and I clear the bench. At least, it isn’t the room…..this time.

I spy the toddler across the room. He seems to be faring better than us. He has attached himself to a little girl, and they are playing some version of house that involves washing Barbies and Tonka Trucks in the refrigerator. Oh well, he seems happy. Wonder who that girl’s mom is? Maybe I should say hi, you know, since our children are playing so nicely……hmmm…..some nice looking moms over there. No….they belong with those kids by the water table. How about that sleepy looking one by the corner? Nope; twin baby girls, should’ve know. Maybe it is that one; she looks nice. Ponytail, jeans, t-shirt; oh, is that a stain? This could work, she looks normal. She is looking over by the play kitchen; Yes! Wait….no, false alarm; she must be with the boy next to it with the legos. So, who is this girl’s mother? Oh. There she is. Sweater set. Perfect hair, with makeup and nail polish. Summer skirt, ironed, no less. Strappy Sandals, with…wait for it… yes, a pedicure. Great.Perfect Mom.

The toddler calls me over to meet his new friend. I inch my way through a game of tag, an army of dinosaurs, and 2 runaway babies. I greet the toddler, who hands me a play orange. His new friend gives me a block with an H on it. They then proceed to ignore me completely. I sidle over to perfect mom, who also ignores me completely. I stand there for awhile, watching the happy moms chat and smile; cursing my luck and wondering how to get this woman’s attention without being weird. The baby must want to help. All of a sudden, his diaper explodes. And I mean it; it explodes. The smell hits me about the same time I feel the wet ooze out of his onsie onto my hip. The smell also gets to perfect mom. What multi-tasking skills! I have never seen anyone grab a child so fast, rubbing her down completely with Hand Sanitizer and wipes, while shooing away my toddler and texting the whole incident to someone on her brand new iphone. I am equally impressed and horrified.

I gingerly carry the baby toward the door, not wanting to shake anything loose onto the carpet or a passing child. I call to the toddler to come, but, feeling the sudden loss of his friend and not wanting to go yet, he looks at me with that look. You know that look. The tiny little warning you get that a sound loud enough to peel paint is about to exit his tiny little mouth. I try, but I am just not that fast. The meltdown to rule all other meltdowns erupts right there in the play kitchen. Toys go flying; a banana goes by my ear. Some dishes get all the way to the water table. I think his sheer volume knocks over a little girl and deafens a passing boy. It also starts a chain reaction of tears that immediately has the collective mom hate honed in on me and my brood. This, of course, results in the complete and total attention of the whole room, as I try to somehow back out the door, while carrying both of them and avoiding kicking legs, waving arms, and whatever that wet stuff is running down my back. Needless to say, I walk right into the door.

It appears that her old foes Children’s Museum and Perfect Mom have bested Awkward Mom once again. Can she recover? Will the toddler ever stop crying? And just what is the wet stuff oozing down her back? For the answers and more, join us next time! Same mom time, same mom channel.