If we were in the Wild West, we would have been standing, bow-legged, facing each other. Our fingers would be twitching, at the ready. The saloon doors would be slowly swinging, the piano man and loose women having just taken cover behind the bar. Off-camera a whistle would play that OO-ee-oo-ee-ooooooo that accompanies such scenes and a tumbleweed would tumble by.....
Instead, we are in the office. I'm standing, arms crossed, stern-faced, looking down at the three-foot tall person staring up at me. Every book from our bookshelf and every shell from our seashell bin are strewn across the room and he stands in the middle of it all, perfectly still. There are no tumbleweeds, no ominous whistle, but don't be fooled: it's a stand-off.
It should have been simple: "Hey, Max, Molly is asleep. As soon as you get these things picked up, we can play! Get started, alright?"
"Max, I can't wait to have some special Max and Mommy time, but we can't until this room is cleaned up."
"Max. Please put the books on the bookshelf. Once you get started, I can help."
"Put the books on the shelf."
He's a statue.
I can feel myself getting angry, so I excuse myself to fold some laundry. "When I come back downstairs, I hope to see that you are making good choices and are cleaning up."
So I do...and when I do....HE HASN'T MOVED A MUSCLE.
Now I'm seriously angry and am speaking in a tone of voice that I wasn't (and am not) proud of. And then I hear the baby calling me, so I lose it: "Max! Don't you see? Now Molly is awake! We should have been having special Mommy and Max time and you wasted it! CLEAN UP THIS ROOM RIGHT NOW."
I go up to get our girl and when I come down, he's moving in slow motion, but he's cleaning. So I give him a few minutes and then I pitch in. We say our apologies and I think fast to come up with a way to salvage the day.
The park! Of course! We haven't been to our neighborhood park in awhile. It's a beautiful day, so we walk. I toss the wipe case, two dipes, and Molly's blanket/nursing cover/all-purpose drop-cloth into the stroller basket. I load Molly into the pouch while Max gets his shoes on, and then we're on our way.
During the fifteen-minute walk, I breathe. Deeply. I look at the mountains rising over our neighborhood and notice the pretty pots of flowers on the front porches we pass. I smile at the little old man who lets us pass him ("You all have places to go!" he said). I look down at the attentive little baby peeking out above the edge of the porch, noticing everything. I look down at the quiet little boy in the stroller...quiet, maybe, because he's feeling sorry about the way he treated his poor mommy that morning. It's the fifteen minutes I need to recharge and change course. This WILL be a good day.
And so, we play.
And Molly and I swing.
There's a little girl, slightly older than Max, playing too. Me-Too Max tries to keep up. She plays restaurant, he serves the lemonade. She rides the horsey, he jumps on the motorcycle. She climbs up the steps and slides down the slide with her arms above her head, he does, too. She crawls through the ladder, gymnastically.....dangerously?....he starts to also.
"Max...." I call, to get his attention. "Be careful....watch what you're doing."
At this point, he is leaning through the ladder rungs and I'm picturing him face-plating on the mulch. And though he's not high off the ground, his arms are not in a position to brace his fall.
"Hon, why don't you back up and climb up the ladder the regular way?"
Shockingly, based on how this morning went, he listens. But as he backs up, he hops down. Problem is...his head hasn't cleared the ladder rungs.....soooooo, he hits the top of his head on the rung above him, which slams his FACE down into the rung below him.
I jump off the swing, but by the time I cross over to grab him...he turns to me, hysterical. His mouth is full of blood. I grab the wipes case out of the stroller and, using the FIVE wipes I brought with me, try to clean him up and assess the damage. There are deep gashes inside and on the outside of his lower lip and I can't tell if he bit straight through it. Also....his teeth are covered in blood so I can't tell if anything is loose or if there's any gum damage. Also, he's hysterical and covered in blood and I'm bloody and wearing a baby in my pouch AND a fifteen minute WALK from home, so...yeah...so much for salvaging our day.
Perk of having a husband working in the neighborhood? Quick relief in playground emergencies. Sam was there within ten minutes and we were off to our first ever emergency doctor's appointment.
He was so brave. The doc checked him out and determined that he didn't need stitches and that his teeth looked fine. He said we dodged a bullet this time, it could have been really ugly. Then he noticed the scar by Max's right eye and said, "But, by the looks of things, you've been around the block a time or two before with this one." Is it that easy for a pediatrician to spot a Wild Thing?
We came home to a lunch of applesauce (doc said to take it easy on the teeth for a bit because they might be sore) and hot chocolate with marshmallows (Max said it was the only thing in the whole house that would make him feel better).
And he's just fine. But man, is Three Years Old around the corner or WHAT?!
This kid is the biggest lover you'll ever meet. He's funny and energetic and excitable and fun-loving. He's smart and sweet and cuddly and kind. But damn. He makes me tired.