Monday, February 22, 2010

Explaining the world: Act One, Manikins

So this is the thing about becoming a parent...
A thoughtful individual plans for it, but it is exceedingly difficult to imagine how it will manifest itself... or when.

This week has been full of heartwarming and amazing interactions with JB that have kept an exciting and startling notion ever-present in the frontal lobe of my brain. Namely, this: On a daily basis it is our job to EXPLAIN the ENTIRE WORLD to these kids. I cannot tell you how many times in the last 2 weeks I nearly died: D.I.E.D. at how cute and smart our 2 (and nearly 1/2) year old is. No offense to ML. I'm sure he will be as heart-wrenchingly glorious, but from my perspective 2 and 1/2 is where most of life gets taught and (for better or for worse) in a tentatively adorable way, gets regurgitated back.

I've been listening to a lot of "This American Life" lately, so this post is going to be broken down into 4 posts and/or 4 Acts.

Act One: Manikins

So Saturday is the day we (JB and I) go to gymnastics. He started going with my sister during ML's illness. He went 3 or 4 weeks in a row when she was taking care of him and at that point we just signed him up. When he started, he couldn't jump (2 feet simultaneously off the ground) and he wouldn't do the stretches (instead just stubbornly standing with his hands clasped behind his back, staring down at the mat like a very tiny Rainman while everyone else did the warm up stretches.) Now, nearly a 1/2 a year later, he has all these moves and stretches and so much more control over his body. It is really impressive and it is really sweet.

This week after gymnastics, I had a lot of errands to run, so I called Katy and told her that JB and I were headed out into the world. He got a haircut, we got a bagel, and then went to a few stores to look for clothes for him and some other things.

He seems to really like shopping. I don't mean that he wants to buy things, he likes to go out into the world and look at things and ask what they are and what they are for, and listen and look and (sometimes) touch. I mean he is a bit of a "student of life" and there is no better way to learn about life in a capitalisitc society than hitting the shops. He understands that we go into stores and the "stuff" contained within isn't "ours" unless we buy it. This took a little bit of time to get him to understand and now even though he doesn't really understand about the different costs of things, he knows that we go to work to "bring home the bacon" and that the stores just don't give you what you want... unless you give them some money or a credit card. He understands there are different kinds of stores and will ask if we say we are going to a store: "Grocery?" or sometimes, "Which one?"

Sometimes while shopping, he asks if we can buy something; but he's just as likely to point to something in a store and ask us to "look at this, Mommy." or ask, "What is that?" or tell us what something seems to be to him: "That looks like Lion King, Mommy."

He was super sweet when I took him into an electronic/game store. Browsing for our barely played Wii, i let him roam fairly untethered around looking at the covers of the empty game cases. At one point, he crawled half his body under a shelving unit and I looked at him like, "What the hell are you doing?!?" He wiggled out and presented me with a penny that he had just rescued from what was sure to be a losing battle with the nozzle of a carelessly run vacuum: "Here. I found this, Mommy."

Then in the second hand store, he tried on all the shoes I asked him to and he begged for the 4 sizes too big "Lightening McQueen" rain boots.

At the party supply store, he turned into an 80 year old (easily thrilled) woman before my eyes: Every new color of table cloth and decorative cup was like a miracle to him. "Mommy. Mommy. Look. Look. I wanna show you something... look, blue cups!!! Mommy. Mommy. Look, Green cups!! Ma. Mommy. Pink cups!!!" I was snickering and giggling, and laughing through the entire store. There were life size M and Ms that almost sent him over the edge. There was a wall of Mylar balloons that nearly blew his mind. There were FORKS IN EVERY COLOR!!! When we went down the aisle that had "themed supplies" he found a "Cars" plastic platter, chip and dip holder with Mater and Lightening McQueen on it. He held up the platter near his tiny head, and tilting it up toward me he whimpered: "Mommy, Look!!! This is Adorable!!!"

The entire time we were in there, he didn't ask to buy any of this stuff. I know b/c I was so in love with him during this outing that if he had desired a package of cups in every color, they would probably be in our basement right now...

He just seemed to be enjoying the fact that it is all out there to look at and see. Truth be told, this is a lot of what shopping is to me too. Sometimes I want to go out and spend money. But more often than not, I can walk thru a store like target, fill up a cart and slowly unfill it as I approach the checkout. Just looking around at all the shit that is out there, is fairly satisfying to me.

Last stop was Gap. I had to return a gift that was purchased on line and it took a long time to get a store credit b/c the computer kept just wanting to credit the card that was originally charged. JB was getting a little rambunctious and at some point I turned my attention to him. He looked at me and then at these two manikins nearby. After several moments of eyeballing the manikins he said, "What that mommy?" I explained what they were and the name: Manikin. I explained what they were for: to display the clothes and that they weren't real, they only existed so that people could see how the clothes look when they get worn. JB asked me, "He going somewhere?" I was perplexed for a few seconds until I grasped his point.

"No," I replied. "That one is wearing a bag, and that one is wearing a coat. They are dressed to look like they are going somewhere, but they don't leave the store. They don't walk or move. They aren't real."

He thought about this and asked a follow up, "They just pretending?" I agreed with that assessment and re-iterated the purpose of manikins to display clothes. Then he looked around the store with the confused and somewhat horrified expression of someone who wakes up to a world he barely recognizes:"Mommy, they everywhere."

I could seriously have died. He slays me. In the 3 days since the eye-opening discovery of manikins, JB cannot stop talking about them. And I too am forever changed. They really are kind of creepy. The ones in Gap don't even heads. and if you go into a store like that and you are just looking around with the intention to notice such things, they really ARE everywhere.

But more importantly, How cute is this kid?


Grandpa Z said...

Not that I'm biased, but yes he is adorable and precious. I just love keeping up with his growth thru your unbelievably well-written and often hilarious blog entries. Keep up the good work (writing and parenting).

Tracy said...

Thanks, Mighty Mike. It's been a rough few days. I appreciate the positive reinforcement!

Sarah said...

cute and smart and awesome. That kid of yours is going to be a writer like you someday. He has such an eye.