first off: i’m pretty sure that i won’t be talking about how sick i am anymore, because i appear to be much better. yay for you! and yay for me!
so this morning started off in a lazy fashion: leftover banana pancakes and old school sesame street, 1975. as she has taken to doing most mornings, jude kept me company while i pumped a few ounces of milk for her brother. it’s become something like a tradition that i pump milk in jude’s playroom. she clears a space for me on the floor, and as i do the deed, she sits crosslegged next to me. i have a pair of extra pump horns, and jude is nuts for them. she pretends to pump herself, or she tries to attach one of them to my belly button. you know, for altogether more milk. she cheers me on, too. “look at all that milk, mommy! good job!” she never ceases to be fascinated by the whole process. and, when i am finished, my ever-helpful jude helps me pack up the pump and supplies.
anyway, we decided that we would go on a family outing today…to the MALL. after we made the announcement, and attempted to get everyone dressed and ready for takeoff, jude lost her shit. she had a hard time following the simplest of directions, kept running away from h as she was getting dressed, ignored our attempts at getting her back on track. [also, it must be mentioned that she began the morning with a time out, after she bit me when i wouldn’t let her have my cough drops.]
though she is feeling better, she’s still a snot machine, and she’s still got a short fuse. we did give her some ibuprofen, but it hadn’t kicked in by the time we (finally) got out the door. once again, she completely lost her shit when h tried to buckle her into her seat–total arched back, kicking, screaming, feral child fit. zig, however, was uncharacteristically asleep and limp as i put him into his seat. h was ready to abort the mission, but i persuaded her to try: give the child a cereal bar and wait for the medicine to to its good and holy work.
and omg, jude was awesome at the mall. or, to use her favorite word, adorably mispronounced: perfeck. no more tantrums, easy to redirect, etc. she only had one time out after continuing to touch the nasty public toilet after repeated warnings not to, on account of it being nasty.
we were surprised to see that santa had already arrived at the mall. on november 9th, there he was, seated at his throne, in suspenders and spectacles and red pants and boots. no hat. no coat. i don’t blame him…it’s stifling in that mall. his assistant wasn’t an elf, but a middle aged woman in a silk blouse with a loud tie. and, on this early november tuesday afternoon, no one was waiting to sit on his lap. go figure.
santa had to be very, very bored, because he took a vested interest in jude. we decided to take advantage of this serendipitous opportunity to have santa’s undivided attention and try to have a picture taken with both kids. it would be perfeck: disheveled children and overheated santa.
predictably, jude would have none of it. she refused to exit her stroller, even after santa offered her a bell on a string and coupons for chik fil a nuggets. both h and i gently nudged her toward santa’s lap, but she kept her hands over her face. nothing worked, and so santa addressed us directly: what i am trying to do is establish trust. let me do the work, he said. um, okay.
so, santa worked a little reverse psychology on jude. he started saying goodbye, and she became interested in him. she got out of her stroller, walked up to him, high-fived his white-gloved hand, and accepted that damned bell on a string. when he asked her the requisite “what do you want for christmas”, she told him a very elaborate and unintelligible story about mommy and mama getting her presents for christmas and birthday and how she wants presents for christmastime. santa looked at me for help. a ball, i told him. she wants a new red ball, since her old one popped. santa offered to talk about the red ball with jude if she would come sit on his lap, but jude replied “um, no thanks.”
at this point, santa kind of gave up. he told us to try again later, that we don’t want to force anything on jude. okay, we said, and we left.
“where my red ball go?” jude asked as we left. “santa give jude a red ball!” and i explained that just because she told santa what she wanted didn’t mean she’d get it immediately. she would have to wait until christmas. inside, i was contemplating for the first time just how absurd this whole song and dance really is.
later, we passed by santa’s kingdom again, and he was still all alone. he was playing his guitar. he was still wearing his gloves. jude was happy to see him, and happily offered him a “hi santa!” he was so confident that he’d sealed the deal that he put on his heavy santa cloak. i asked jude if she was ready to go see santa, and she said no. “no way” were her exact words. once again santa offered sage advice to us: “you need to be more direct. stop asking her so many questions and just bring her on over without a word. she’ll be fine.”
h and i nodded our heads in assent. we could do this: be direct. no questions. silently bring her to santa. and h immediately said, “okay jude, are you ready to go see santa and have a picture taken for gabby and pop pop?” to which jude once again replied, “no.” and i, still convinced that santa’s way would work, began to unbuckle jude’s stroller straps. she screamed. santa called it off before it escalated. “um, that’s kind of what i told you not to do,” he told us, peering over his spectacles with judgment. sorry santa, we said. we didn’t mean to. he then offered us a few more platitudes about earning a child’s trust, and promised that when we try again in the future, it’ll be better. “after all, that’s why we’re here so early in the season, to get them used to me.”
jude happily said goodbye to santa, jingle bell around her neck, and santa picked up his guitar again, and began to strum quietly. he was still alone.