we ride (i see the future)
Photo Friday, Number 97. Theme: Ride.
Hanley, riding on the seesaw in January.
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Photo Friday, Number 97. Theme: Ride.
Hanley, riding on the seesaw in January.
Last Tuesday I picked up Hanley and decided to do something different. Instead of taking her home or going to the playground, we went to Agora for coffee. I ordered a mocha for myself and a double espresso for Hanley. Just kidding. She got an orange juice and a banana. We found a table upstairs and Hanley asked me a million questions. Actually, she pretty much only asks one question, which is, "What's that?" But she asked it a bunch of times while pointing at different people and things. Her teachers have told me that they're astonished by her vocabulary and are often surprised at the words and phrases that randomly fall out of Hanley's mouth. I'm just glad she doesn't say, "Holy crap!" in front of them, or worse, because I constantly slip and accidently swear in front of her. Bad manny!
She stayed in her seat, ate her banana, was relatively quiet, and drank her entire container of juice. I was impressed by her behavior. Unfortunately, she pooped and I didn't have a diaper bag. On her way out, she ran up to a cute guy. I feared for his laptop, but he smiled at her, which made him even more attractive, until Hanley suddenly went, "ROAR!" at him, like a stinky werewolf child about to maul his ankles, and the cute guy visibly recoiled. "Sorry," I said, and guided her away.
The next day when I picked her up from school, she climbed into her car seat--Oh, yeah. She can now climb into the car, traverse the void from the front seat arm rests to the back seat, and get into her car seat all by herself. She can't quite manage the straps yet, but I'm sure she'll figure them out any day now. So I turned around to strap her in to her seat and she said, "I want coffee!" I said, "Ask me nicely." She said, "Um. Um. May I please have coffee, please!" Sometimes she slips a redundant please in there, but I'm told that level of politeness is unheard of for a two year old, so who the hell cares? Back to Agora we went.
I ordered the same thing for us, we sat at our same table upstairs, and she was on her best behavior once again. I was reading news stories on my iPad, so she climbed into my lap to look at the pictures and point and scroll when instructed. (She's quite adept with electronics, which is why she's the boss lady. I imagine she'll lead a hostile takeover of the Sheinhardt Wig Company by the time she's 3.) After a while she got bored and said, "I want to get down." "If you get down from my lap," I said, "you have to sit in your chair." Silence as she processed that statement. "Which is it going to be Hanley, my lap or your chair?" "Um. Um. Um. Um." A brilliant negotiator, she was hedging and hoping I'd forget the terms. Crafty. "Chair or lap, Hanley? Or, we can leave." "Hanley sit in chair." "Good choice!" She finished her banana, pretended to give her stuffed rabbit, Dash, some juice, and then we left.
Next, we visited the Menil Collection. We had recently visited a month ago, so there were only a few new paintings here and there to see. In the Surrealism exhibit there were a rash of Picasso paintings that I'd never seen before. I thought they were great, but Hanley glanced at them and said, "Meh!" Clearly, she was unimpressed. Nothing grabbed her attention, so we walked across the street to the Menil's Cy Twombly Gallery. Inside, Hanley perked up and pointed to a Twombly painting and asked, "What's that?" "A painting." "Painting," she repeated. "You're probably better equipped to explain it to me, since Twombly's work is rather childlike," I said. "Womly," she tried. "Twombly," I corrected. "Twomly." "Close. Twombly." "Twombly." "Yes." We walked through the exhibit and she was silent, taking it all in, until she announced, "I want to color."
Hanley has an agenda. Like her mother, she's kind of Type A and an agenda makes her happy. Yesterday, I made the mistake of absentmindedly saying, "Give me a minute, Hanley. I need to let Lloyd outside before you and Daddy go to the doctor." "Doctor?" Hanley pondered. "Yes," I said. (Not "yeah." We're making a conscious effort to say "yes" around Hanley, because she says "yeah" and "yup" way too much, which is pretty much my fault.) "You're getting shots." I closed the door behind Lloyd after he ran outside, and turned to find Hanley shaking her hands and dancing in place, a small whine escalated into a wail. "Hey, now," I said, "stop that. You'll go to the doctor, get your shots, and it will be over very quickly, and you'll be fine."
After that, she kept repeating the agenda like a soothing mantra. "Hanley go to doctor, get shots, over quick, be fine!" I mentioned that she might get a sticker out of the deal. The mantra changed to "Hanley go doctor, get shot, get sticker, put sticker on knee, BE FINE!"
She has spring break this week, so I've been spending my days at Hanley, Inc. this week. After a rousing breakfast of pancakes, faux sausage (soy) patties, and applesauce, we went over the agenda. "Change diaper, get clothes, go to park, see kids, Hanley lunch, and BUBBLES!" "You forgot your nap in all that. You have to nap before we can play with the bubbles." Blank stare. Not the N-word! By the time lunch was consumed--a heaping plate of diced chicken and tomatoes in a carrot tomato "sauce" (read: baby food) over whole wheat noodles. And she ate three bites of my sandwich, thank you very much--her lids were heavy and she fell asleep on my chest in the rocking chair, something she hasn't done in quite a while. Two hours later, I went to see if she was awake and she immediately sat up and shouted, "Bubbles!"
Bubbles are an agenda I can definitely get behind.
Photo Friday, Number 95. Theme: Ethereal.
Hanley, trying to catch bubbles.
Photo Friday, Number 94. Theme: Turbulent.
Hanley's turbulent temper strikes again. All I said was, "Is it time for night-night?" And then the above happened. Clearly, the answer was a resounding yes.
After I picked her up from school and ran errands yesterday, H and I returned to Hanley, Inc. headquarters. Once inside, The Big H immediately got on to one of the cats for being nosey. "No, no, Layla. That Hanley hat!" she explained, shaking her head at George (who looks just like Layla, which means "Layla" is a universal name for all three cats in the house.) and admonishing her for sniffing the pink cowboy hat we'd just purchased and placed on the kitchen counter with my manny bag, Hanley's lunchbox, and every other book, magazine, and small object in the known universe. George moved on to my bag and, once again, Hanley shook her finger at her and said, "No, no, Layla! That Timtee's purse!"
"Murse," I corrected.
At random moments, Hanley will sometimes sing the the fire truck song, most often while sitting in her car seat or while coloring. But she tends to blend it with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," so it comes out something like, "Fire truck, fire truck, how I wonder fire truck." It's pretty damn cute. But after you hear a song like "Fire Truck" or "The Wheels on the Bus" a thousand or more times, you start to get bored (to say the least), so, lately, I've been trying to get her to change up the words and sing "Fire crotch, fire crotch, how I wonder fire crotch." That should go over well in class.
When I picked up Hanley from school last Tuesday she was bent over a table, methodically loading fake gold coins into a porcelain pig, perhaps rehearsing for a future role as Ebenezer Scrooge. Or, maybe she projecting and practicing for hard times ahead. Or, she could have been readying my payments for the week. In any event, she was doing a good job of avoiding the fact that I was there to pick her up. Her attention kept diverting between me and the pig, and she was so obviously torn between the porcine plaything and putting away her toy so she could gather her things and leave with me like a fine and upstanding child. The choice was obvious: Remain calm, keep playing with the pig, and maybe the manny will go away! No such luck. After asking her nicely three times to put the pig away and get her things, I went over to the coat rack and found her lunch box and jacket. Then I stood behind her and said, "Hanley, put your stuff away so we can leave. NOW."
When she turned around, she looked stricken, an expression I see every now and then when I have to get stern with her, as if I'd verbally slapped her cheek. It's a look I have to pointedly ignore, because it's designed to make an adult drop to their knees and beg for forgiveness. Kids can look extremely cute and/or very pathetic when they need to. It's survival. It keeps them alive when a nearby adult has been pushed to the limit. But I pushed through and didn't allow my expression to change, so she'd know that I meant what I said. She got up from her chair, placed the pig on a tray, and immediately became distracted by a grain of sand on the floor. "What's that?" she asked, pointing downward, her latest in an arsenal of delaying tactics, most often employed at bedtime. "It's a grain of sand. Keep moving," I said. At the door, I tried to put on her jacket, but she shrank from me and looked wounded. "You have to put on your jacket," I stated. Perhaps as exhausted as I was by the situation, she gave in and then shuffled to the door like a dead toddler walking.
The next day was similar. But when I held open her jacket for her to slip into, she screamed, "No!" and ran from me. My mouth fell open. Of course she had argued with me before, but she'd never yelled at me so obnoxiously. I could feel many toddler heads turn, many little eyes upon us, many little minds of her classmates possibly thinking, Uh-oh. Hanley's gonna get it. I heard myself use all three of her names and, just like that, I turned into my and several of my friends' mothers. I remembered a tactic Hanley's mother told me about and employed it immediately. "Hanley P______ C______, if you don't put this jacket on right now, I'm going to pick you up and carry you to the car."
A totally different Hanley--one full of sweetness and light, followed by scampering and twittering Disney woodland creatures--skipped over to me and put on her jacket. Her hand slipped into mine and she smiled as I led her to the classroom door. "Good bye!" I said to her teacher. "See you tomorrow!" her teacher said, but the implied message behind it sounded like Well played!
Given her birthday last December and yesterday's operation due to chronic ear infections, Hanley Inc. has asked me to announce that our product will now be referred to as Hanley 2.0. Hanley 2.0 is now less infectious and, with added tubes in her ear canals, is 1% more bionic than our previously offered product. We're not prepared to address claims of whining and spontaneous tantrums against our product at this point in time. As previously stated, as language skills improve and mental capacity increases, our product will continue to challenge the average consumer, but we at Hanley, Inc. like to think that's what makes Hanley 2.0 superior to other product on the market. We look forward to offering Hanley 2.5 with added politeness and shoe tying ability in the future!