Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My 2-year-old best friend

Like any working mom, I sometimes have to go pick my son up from daycare because he's sick.  There have been other times, however, fortunately few and far between, where I have to go pick my son up from daycare because he's tricked his teacher into thinking he's sick.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I got to his classroom, and he was just sitting on his mat, eyes downcast.  When he saw me he came running over and buried his face in my leg, hugging on for dear life.  I picked him up and he laid his head on my shoulder, whimpering pitifully.

"He's been like that all day!" his teacher exclaimed.  "He hasn't had a fever or upset stomach, but he just keeps crying, and won't nap, and he wouldn't even eat lunch."

My son continued to cling to my neck, face buried in my collarbone, while we walked out of eyesight of his teacher.  By the time we got to the stairwell, he was sitting up in my arms and giggling.  At the top of the stairs, he squirmed down and wanted to open the door for me.

Out in the hall, he started that stream-of-consciousness chattering of which only toddlers and teenage girls with webcams are capable.  As we walked out the door to the parking lot, he shouted, "Let's go!  Let's go take a ride in mama's car!"  (Phonetically, "Go take wide in mama cah!")

Since he was obviously feeling pretty okay, I decided it'd be a good afternoon to take care of some errands.  Namely, haircuts.  Both of us both desperately needed one.

Better yet, it was Tuesday, a.k.a. "$12 haircuts day at CostCutters".  Since I am frugal/cheap, and really don't care how my hair looks as long as it's easy to maintain, I drove us right over.

Our stylist was a very sweet young woman named Gabby.  Since I could always come back on my own if my son got fussy or impatient, I decided we would have him go first.  She sat him on a couple of booster pillows and let him pick a toy to hold.  (He chose a choo-choo train.)  Then she made a game of spraying him with the mister, and kept swivelling his chair so he could see what was going on around him.  (He was especially fascinated by the guy about my age who was getting a buzzcut two chairs over.)

My son held perfectly still, and his haircut was over in less than 15 minutes.  The stylist gave him a lollipop and a toy watch, and we explained that it was Mommy's turn to get a haircut.

Invigorated by candy, and feeling more comfortable in this new environment, my son got quickly bored of sitting in the next chair over and watching Mommy's haircut.  I had hoped he would just play in the corner with the toys, but they had little power to hold his interest when there was a waiting room just full of people who were not yet fortunate enough to have met his charming self.

The first victim was a grandmotherly woman who smiled sweetly through his prattle, and helped him put on the big, plastic toy watch.  When she went back for her perm, he turned his attention to a middle-aged Hispanic man who did not appear to speak a word of English, but nevertheless patiently pushed around the toy cars my son kept trying to share with him.  Fortunately, "car noises" is a universal language.

"Do you need me to get him?" I kept nervously asking the stylist, squirming worse than my toddler had.  "I don't want him to bother anyone."

"No no no!" she assured me.  "He's so sweet!  We love kids here!"

I tried to explain that I didn't raise him to accost strangers, per se.  It's just that, between our large church family and large regular family, he is constantly surrounded by adults who are looking out for him.  So, everywhere we go, he just assumes people welcome his company.

The very sweet stylist promised me he wasn't bothering anybody, and that she thought it was much better for him to be so outgoing and friendly, rather than shy.  I appreciated the sentiment, but, having no children of her own, she simply can't understand the stress and worry that comes with having the world's most easily abductable child.

It was eventually time to go, and I had my son clean up the toys he'd played with while I paid.  As we walked through the parking lot, he kept checking out his reflection on the shiny surfaces of cars, marvelling at the transformation wrought by his big-kid haircut.

Since he was so well-behaved at the salon, I offered him the choice of going to the petstore to look at animals, or to go get icecream (since he hadn't eaten at school).  He wanted to do both, but I wanted to get him home early enough for some good R&R.  (Though he wasn't as sick as he had pretended to be to get out of school, he still had a genuine case of the sniffles going.)

When he realized that Mommy was serious about him having to choose, he ultimately decided on icecream.  So we went to Goodberry's and ordered a sundae.  We sat on their patio with our two spoons in the dessert, my legs crossed, his dangling off the seat.  We fidgeted with our new haircuts and chatted about the things we saw around us, birds flying, a big car, firetruck sirens in the distance.

All in all, it was a pretty great afternoon with my best friend.

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