Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leila the Singing Panda

You know how when you ask someone how they've been, and they say, "Good, but super busy," you kind of want to roll your eyes?  It's just such a given, that they are busy, and we are busy, and every possible conjugation of "to be busy" is applicable, so why act like it's NEWS?

I mention this only because I was about to lead with "It's been a hell of a day," then I thought--yeah, and?  How does this make today different from, say, yesterday?  Or, most likely, tomorrow? 

One concrete difference: the kids needed shots.  The Winemaker took them, bless his peaked little head.  I don't know (or care much) what your stance on vaccinations is.  Around here the adults avoid the flu shot but the kids get their school shots.  My grandpa had polio; my mom's heart problems were caused by rheumatic fever; we believe in vaccinations.  However, as new parents, we don't have much of a clue about what they're supposed to get when.

I will spare you the comedy of errors of us trying to not get excluded from public school while not subjecting our kids to needless shots, but the long and the short of it is, they had 3:00 appointments for a D-Tap and Hep A.  We'd invited winemaking friends over for dinner at 5:00.  I got home at 4:55, and the driveway was empty.  I was confused--were we supposed to be at our friends' at 5:00 instead of the other way around?  I came inside, and the house smelled like carmelized onions.  Clearly, the Winemaker had started cooking.  I plugged in my dead phone, but there weren't any messages.  I tried calling, and a very harrassed sounding man answered. 

"We're in the middle of a shot crisis," he said.  "Can you call the guests and stall?"  Then he was gone.

Shot crisis?  Like, screaming and crying?  Like anyphylactic shock?  What would make two shots per kid take two whole hours?  And what the hell was I supposed to be making for dinner?

I called the guests, whom, having two small children, were running a half hour late anyway.  I stood in the kitchen and decided that two cans of beans and carmelized onions probably meant tortillas.  I even remembered that the guests are vegetarians.  I cleaned the crap off the dining room table. 

Around 5:30, the phone and doorbell rang in tandem.  As the guests came in, the Winemaker let me know they were done, and yes, "shot crisis" mean having to bribe/threaten/hold down screaming, crying children.  I assured him he'd be handed wine as he came in the door.  We wound up having a really lovely evening--probably a bit more fun than I should be having on a work night.  Their tiny kids are just right for our wild pair; they play sweetly with the toddler and coo at the baby.  Our friends are mellow and think our kids are awesome.  We drank a bunch of wine.  As I served up dinner, Oak said, "It's all grownup food," and I decided to let it go and made our kids peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Linden changed into a skirt so she could show everyone the three bandaids on her leg. 

They stayed well into the bedtime hour.  Linden started to wimper about her sore leg, where she'd jerked it away mid-shot and wound up with a scratch across her thigh.  She asked me to have her newest stuffed animal, a panda we've named Leila, ask her "calm questions."  Leila asked her some questions about her shots, then offered to sing lullabies.  Linden agreed and requested some new songs.  (Luckily Leila had just yesterday printed off the lyrics to "To Make You Feel My Love" and practiced them in the car.)  Then Linden offered to sing "Hush Little Baby" to Leila while they cuddled.  When she finished, Leila thanked her for singing.

"It makes me feel better," Linden sleepily commented.  "My leg doesn't hurt now.  I like to cuddle with you too."  She wrapped herself around her stuffed panda and dropped off to sleep. 

And just when I think I couldn't ef it up any more if I tried, there's a moment like that, when I think I may be doing something right for my kids after all.

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