Monday, October 13, 2008


So the kids and I went to Playhouse Disney Live on Friday night. Scott is in tech for a play, so the kids and I drove to the Quad Cities to see the show. All the way there, Milo asked me if he could have popcorn at the movie and "Will I see Clifford, too?" Violet protested the sun in her eyes, poor babe, and I drove along behind several of the most annoying drivers ever to take the road: lil' old lady who can't remember where to turn, Purple Heart guy who won't drive the speed limit, and truck-with-no-cruise-control guy.

Anyway, as we're driving along, Milo has kept up a running commentary as he looks for pumpkins on porches. Soon the commentary becomes, "Mama! There's another field. And another one... the corn looks like battle droids, Mama!" I tell him that we're going to be seeing a lot of fields, living in Iowa and all. But as we turn onto the big highway from the little highway, the speed limit goes up and so does the road noise. My conversation with Milo becomes, "Mama... mumble mumble mumble?"

"Milo, I can't hear you. Please speak more loudly."

"Okay. MA-ma... mumble mumble mumble?"

"Milo, please say ALL of the words more loudly."

"Okay. MA-MA... mumble mumble mumble?"

In fact, the only thing getting louder is Violet as she complains about the setting sun burning her little eyeballs. So we pull off the road for supper. And so that I can use the bathroom. Milo protests as he wants to eat food "from the window!" I explain to him that I need to use the bathroom and that Violet is too little to eat in the car, but he's still grumbling.

So we get into the restroom and the handicapped stall is in use. Now, I will admit to breaking the convention and using the handicapped stall when in a public restroom with one of my children, but with both it is practically a necessity. However, since it is in use, we cram telephone-booth-joke style into the regular stall. I ask Milo if he needs to use this toilet, since we're already there, he insists, "Nope!" I'm wearing the diaper bag back-pack and leave it on. In fact, I manage to pee whilst holding Violet and cornering Milo against the door with the firm adminishment, "Don't touch ANYTHING!" Of course, he touches everything, so we squeeze back out the door and all wash our hands so we can order our food.

Naturally there are no high chairs available, so we pick a booth and I get Milo started on his meal while carrying Violet and our drink cups across the restaurant to get lemonade. You know, I understand that most people would like the option to fill their own drinks, but in that moment, I found it to be most annoying... Violet and I get back to the table and I tear apart a chicken nugget for her. I munch on a fry or two and take a sip of my Diet Coke -- a departure for me as I try to avoid caffeine after noon, but realize that I am responsible for driving both of my babes home from this event and therefore need to be awake. Milo looks up from his food with a panicked little face, "Mom! I need to tinkle!"

Now?? I glance around the restaurant and decided that maybe it was a good thing that Violet wasn't strapped into a highchair. I sheepishly ask the woman sitting in the booth near us if she would make sure that the employees didn't clear our table while I ran the kids to the bathroom. She gave me one of those "been there, done that" smiles and agreed to watch our rapidly-cooling food. And we ran off to the bathroom again.

Of course Milo is one of those boys who will not pee sitting down and of course the toilet in the handicapped stall is a real handicapped toilet -- so standing to pee at that one would only work if the child could pee out his armpits, so we fold, once again, into the regular-sized stall. Milo does his duty and we all wash our hands AGAIN.

Back to dinner. Violet grabs the empty paper fry holder from the tray and stuffs two nuggets and a couple of fries inside -- she's into the whole "putting things into other things" phase toddlers go through, so I am not surprised that she's re-compartmentalizing the food I just un-compartmentalized. I look over and Milo has started squirming. "Mama! Rub my bum!"

"Milo, do you have to poop?"

"No. I just need my bum rubbed."

"Are you sure you don't need to poop?"

"No. I just...YES! Yes! I need to poop!"

Again I ask the nice woman if she wouldn't mind guarding my food. Again she agrees. And again we are off to the bathroom. This time, knowing that Milo is only going to be sitting, I am able to opt for the more spacious and accommodating... accommodations. Milo again does a good job. As I flush, I notice two chicken nuggets, the paper fry wrapper and a fry sailing over my shoulder and into the toilet. Violet claps her hands and cheers, "Aaaaay!!!" And again we all wash our hands. Again.

Back to the table once more, this time with no incident. Into the car and to the arena. I pull into the parking garage attached to the arena and discover that I have no cash. The helpful guard suggests I utilize the ATM on the lower level, but when I drive down there I realize that to use the ATM I will have to park and leave the kids or park and drag them twenty feet to the ATM. I decide to circle the block and find a completely free space. Yay! No outrageous ATM fees for me!

I park the car and get Milo out, instructing him to stand by the tree in the easement. He does a lovely job with this while I get Violet out and pour her into my sling. Then the diaper bag back-pack. And finally, I grab Milo's hand for the block walk to the arena. Which turns out to be sort of a nature walk as Milo instantly spies a "grasshopper" that was actually a praying mantis -- so cool! And then he finds a stick that he's convinced needs to come to the show with us. I entice him to leave it at the base of a street light since the police waving the "light sabers" wouldn't let us in if we were armed with sticks.

We get into the arena with no fuss, but I stop at the restroom to change Violet's diaper and Milo decided he needs to use the toilet, so we all smoosh into a stall where he suffers performance anxiety and did not use the toilet. We all wash our hands again.

We are able to walk right in to our seats as they are on the floor, but off to the side. I am momentarily hopeful when I see that most of our row is empty. If the other patrons don't show, I'm all for sliding in to the middle of the row so we can see better. I send a quick text to Scott (who has called four times and left one voice mail). It says, "We're here." And then the rest of our row shows up. They look to be a perfectly nice family, mom goes in first, followed by two darling little girls and a man the size of the playhouse at Playhouse Disney. Milo can't quite see around him, so I help him sit on his knees on the front of his seat.

Curtains up!

Act one flies by and both kids are mostly paying attention. Milo is thrilled to see Rocket and both kids pat along. Violet only gets a little antsy towards the end of the act, but is riveted by Winnie-the-Pooh. Seriously -- she was like a screaming Beatle Maniac calling "Beh! Beh! Beh!" (bear) every time he was onstage, pointing her little index finger at him and clapping wildly.

Intermission comes and, worn down from Milo's whining for popcorn, we venture into the lobby for refreshments. After waiting in line long enough to have grown and popped the corn, I get to the front to realize that they don't take plastic, so I trudge away to the ATM to pay a stinkin' ATM fee anyway... We wait through the concession line AGAIN, and I order a small popcorn, soft pretzel, and a bottle of water. There is apparently no such thing as a small popcorn. So I ask for one that's not filled all the way. Which is apparently not done either, so when they hand me the popcorn, I tell Milo, "Hey! Look! It's Mickey!" and dump two thirds of the contents into the wastebasket. Fortunately, they've started the entre' act and we're off to the audience again!

We manage to scoot in before the house dims completely, so we avoid having to wait for an usher to guide us back to our seats. Either that or I outran the usher. Not sure which, actually... And after we get settled, the same family who was late to the beginning of the show filed in past us, late to the second act of the show, too.

Violet is less inclined to sit for the second act, so she squirms away from me and rushes the stage like a hormone-crazed fan-girl. I cathc her and ply her with a warm soft pretzel. Which she drops on the floor. I scoop it up instantly and think, "Five seconds? Right?" As it turns out, I needn't have worried about her safety -- she crammed the whole piece in my mouth and giggled. I am actually putting Milo in peril each time I run to retrieve her -- he doesn't weight quite enough to hold down his spring-loaded seat, so I have visions of him being catapaulted through the air, trailing popcorn as he flies backwards into the audience.

I don't recall what Handy Manny did in the second act... That must have been when I was chasing Violet and joking with another parent, also chasing a tot, about the "toddler mosh pit." But the show has concluded and Milo is beaming and Violet is pulling at my shirt, wanting to nurse. I figure that this is as good a time as any as the arena is emptying and the lines for the restroom are likely to be long, so I nurse her as unobtrusively as possible. I have just let down when Milo cries, "I have to tinkle! Now!" So I pop poor Violet off and pack up all of our stuff and dash to the line for the restroom. Which, thankfully, is not terribly long. We all contort into yet another small stall and Milo does his business, then I do, too, since we're driving home after this. And we wash our hands... again...

In the lobby, I dig into the diaper bag for the kids' coats. I'm helping Milo zip us as he asks me for a "prize" when Violet decides to make a run for it. She trips over my shoe and falls headlong to the floor, banging her cheek and screaming. And screaming. And screaming. I hold her close and she calms, pretty quickly, considering it's her bedtime and she's not snuggled up and nursing (for which she is still giving me a dirty look). I pull her jacket on her and put her in the sling, which must have a contact sedative effect as she relaxes instantly, snuggling in to my neck like she's a strange appendage. Milo continues to ask for a prize, specifically a Star Wars guy. As many times as I tell him that they do not have Star Wars guys at Playhouse Disney, the only thing that diverts his attention is me wondering aloud if his stick will still be at the lamppost. It was. Thus we have branded the "magic stick."

The ride home was not plagued by bad drivers, though the road noise was still loud enough for me to not hear a thing Milo was saying. He was disappointed that he did not see the praying mantis after the show -- after all, the stick was there, right? And Violet fussed for a while until I handed her the remainder of the soft pretzel, which was clasped in her tiny hand when she finally conked out back there. Milo fell asleep, too, though he was excited enough that it took a while longer than I expected.

I pulled into the front of the house with two sleeping babes, though Violet woke as soon as the car's interior lights came on. Milo, who sleeps more soundly, did not notice when I pried him out of the carseat, took him upstairs, removed his shoes, coat and pants, and laid him in bed. Violet did, though, and I came back to the car to find her little cheeks wet with tears and sticky with pretzel dough. I dressed her in her pajamas and nursed her to sleep. Scott came in a few moments before I laid her down, the dogs greeted him noisily, then I set sweet baby girl into her bed and went downstairs.

To use the bathroom by myself.

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