Hog heaven/toddler hell

The other day we visited the “Little Studio” at Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland. This after the “Little Farm” earlier in the week. If Baba were strictly looking to meet her own needs, we’d have been to the “Little Bookstore” or the “Little Café.” Followed perhaps by a visit to the “Little Brewpub” and the “Little Art House Movie Theater.”

Not that I should complain. I quite enjoyed myself. In fact, I think it’s best to only go out on outings that one would be 3/4 willing to do even without kids. After all, if Baba’s not happy, nobody’s happy. The only valid complaint I could register on this excursion was that holding kiddle #2 kept me from pushing the little munchkins out of the way and getting busy myself.*

The highlight of the visit (other than watching the lil’ monkey totally absorbed in everything she did): soon after I arrived with both kiddles in tow, a woman there, with her own toddler + infant combo, pronounced that my kids looked exactly like me. “You can just tell,” she said.

Since she said this from across the room, atop the heads of various studio denizens, small and smaller, I elected not to call back her that they do look like me, in just the same way that my dog did.

I smiled to her from across the room, and nodded.

The lowlight of the visit: lil’ monkey went ballistic right before we needed to leave. Why go ballistic, you might ask? One answer, following the Toddler’s Creed, would simply be, “Why not?” (If you have custody of a toddler, and haven’t read this gem from Looky, Daddy!, you absolutely must.)

Another answer, perhaps not much more likely than “Why not?,” but at least more sane, is that she had only recently begun to work with some clay, and she wanted to take “a big lump” with her so she could continue the Camille Claudel impersonation at home. After I told her that all she could take home was an eensy weensy little bit of clay, she almost instantaneously set to sobbing, repeating the refrain, “A big lump of clay, I want a really big lump of clay.” And so on. Her sorrow was genuine: eyes positively brimming with tears, so much so that I was amazed she could see her way around the studio as she randomly zig-zagged with her lump, wailing.

She would have none of my gentle reasoning. Such as, if she were freaking out because she wanted to play with the clay at home, and she knew we didn’t have any, I’d actually be totally willing to get some on the way back, since I’ve always thought we should have a big lump of clay around the house. Aside from myself, of course.

But no. She had heard that you could take some clay home with you, from the kindly attendant gal. What the kindly attendant gal meant was, after you actually craft something with it, you can take the crafted product home. You can’t make off with, like, a hunk of raw clay the size of a paving stone. That you can barely hold up, your tiny wrist is so small.

We eventually struck a compromise, bringing home the amount of clay that the kindly attendant imagined the lil’ monkey might have used, had she actually crafted something on site. Such as for instance a dinner set for eight.

Upon our return home, the lil’ monkey conveyed her version of the afternoon to the beloved. She excitedly described that we had gone to the studio, how it was “all for children.”

Then, “Mama, I wanted to take home a really big lump of clay. I cried and cried and cried,” she chirped.

The beloved looked at me: “‘Cried and cried and cried’?”

“Yep, pretty much.”

We looked back at the girlie for signs of enduring trauma. Zip. All’s that was visible were smudges of paint and dried clay. If one half of the Toddler Creed is, “You never need a sane reason to freak out,” the other half is, “When the tears dry up, so will the angst.”

Easy come, easy go.


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*Think I put him down to take the picture above? Think again! I held the camera down at the hip, in the left hand, peering at the viewfinder from a distance, depressing the shutter release with the thumb. Really. Quipping to the kindly attendant gal: “Second child is the mother of invention.” To which she says, “No doubt.”

6 thoughts on “Hog heaven/toddler hell”

  1. I could use some parenting tips from you. I might have been driven to have a tantrum of my own. There is a reason I just bought a book called Buddhism for Mothers. 🙂

  2. I reckon you’re lucky to have an ‘easy come, easy go’ type child there. We have one for whom such an incident might necessitate the avoidance of a whole area of town for months or years – lest the painful memories come flooding back. That is a slight overstatement but only slight…

  3. I’ve been lurking for a long time and am not sure why this morning, I finally registered to comment. I am just constantly amazed by your tales of parenting savoir faire. If my own gay-made babes ever make it from concept to zygote to babe-in-arms, I hope I can be half the Baba you are. Thanks for your inspiring and entertaining blog.
    -Kristy

  4. Yes well! Parenting tip # 1 is, duck and cover!

    Though I do also have to say that I think there are a lot of tenets central to Buddhism that help out a lot with parenthood. Gratitude. Understanding that change is fundamental, and fruitless to be feared/ resisted/ etc. Compassion for as many folks as possible, beginning with the self, esp. when the self fears & resists change, for instance. Which it will do. Since we’re human.

    I totally agree with AllieG that I have an ‘easy come, easy go’ type child, though. Relatively speaking (we are talking toddlers, here). I mean, the pink-faced, watery eyed freak-out came out of the blue, and lasted ’til we brokered some kind of workable deal. But I ain’t going back there without a cubic yard of clay in the truckbed the next time, man. (I’ve given the pharmacy a super-wide berth since this woebegotten escapade with the popsicle.)

    I appreciate your very kind words, Kristy, though I should also note (in good conscience) that the story told in these pages, while fairly accurate of the spirit of our family life, does omit a few unsavory details. For purposes of preserving our privacy, and purposes of not revealing some unflattering practices to Child Protective Services or the judge working my upcoming 2nd parent adoption case. You know, like renting the kids out to Cirque du Soleil now and then to help pay off our consumer debt.

    No, but thanks. I wouldn’t mind being half the Baba I write about here, either. 🙂

  5. I’m impressed by your photography skills. The photo is stunning as always (you don’t moonlight as a photojournalist by any chance?), and this–

    I held the camera down at the hip, in the left hand, peering at the viewfinder from a distance, depressing the shutter release with the thumb

    –is reminiscent of Roman Vishniac’s talent for taking photos through a buttonhole of his coat.

    Very psyched to know there IS a Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland–we will surely be going there when Mookie reaches tantrum toddler age. Do you have a guide-to-the-Bay-Area-with-kids you particularly recommend?

  6. Romav Vishniac! Can’t wait to learn more about him! Sylvia Platchey is my shero, and I got a whole new perspective when I read this book, Shot from the Hip (by Alias Johnny Stiletto, got to be Not His Real Name). I don’t so much photograph strangers (which he writes about and does), but I have enjoyed detatching a measure of “control” from the image-making by trying to not look through the lens, from time to time (which he writes about and does).

    Needless to say, with digigal, you can squander lots of storage space and spray an area, as it were, with attempts, and then edit the results. Which this one was (edited). Though mostly to remove other kiddles from the picture, for their own privacy (I know, from the images it might otherwise look like our children wander through a world populated by them alone; not true!).

    I am proud to say that, while I decided some years ago that it was too late to try to launch a second (or third) career and try to become a photojournalist, I dreamt of it, and still some of my best friends are photojournalists. I am duly flattered and honored that you might, even in jest, suggest that I might moonlight as one.

    As to fun kid guides for the Bay Area: so much to do! But I cheat and get a lot of my info passively: look at posters and flyers for other stuff when I’m at a ripe locale. Also, trickle down from older siblings with kids, and trickle over, from other friends with ’em. I’ve yet to get a good guidebook.

    That said, here are some online resources I’ve gone to:

      • the Chronicle’s parenting blog, The Poop, features fun stuff to do around the Bay Area, often cheap or free;
      • the Berkeley Parents Network has its typically vast, personal series of entries on Places To Go and Things to Do in the Bay Area and CA. (The Bay Area is East Bay -centered, as the Network is too); and
      • a local woman has worked up this pretty comprehensive site, Bay Area Kid Fun, which I’ve gone to from time to time to get ideas. So far as I can tell it’s a labor of love, and much appreciated.

    These are various “fun in the Bay Area with kids” books, and I’d love to know which, if any, are recommended by folks who’ve used ’em. (?)

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