Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Soggy Kidspace Adventure

Now that I’m a mom, I join stuff. You can tell by my key ring, which is decorated with several snappy little passcards that admit me into my new clubs. I never used to join anything, but I am now a proud member of a local swim club, the Kidspace Museum, and the Los Angels Zoo. I hear we get free gorilla t-shirts with our zoo membership, but I’ll believe such madness when I see it.

I took Peapod (her little pet name for this blog, I swear) to Kidspace this past weekend to test out our new membership. While there, I ended up laughing so hard I just about peed my pants, which would have made two of us that needed a complete wardrobe change as a result of our visit.

Our afternoon started off placidly enough with a stop in to their ‘under age 4’ playroom, where she hoarded plastic balls while wearing an orange bucket on her head. We also met a charming toddler named Emory who inspired me to rush out to Baby Gap the very next day to buy some stripey tights. We even managed to spend an uninterrupted 18 seconds at the art table engaging in what some might loosely define as ‘coloring.’ A quick pit stop to the bathroom for a diaper change and several emphatic repeats of the phrase “DO NOT PUT YOUR ARM IN THE TOILET PLEASE” and we were on to a different section of the museum.

To get to the next area, we had to cut through the outdoor courtyard, which sports two of those squirty water fountains that kids love to play in. Since it was chilly by Southern California standards, all the sensible parents were keeping their kids out of the fountains, and so they were empty. As quickly as I could, I led Peapod toward the indoor beehive exhibit. According to the sign, some were worker bees, some were drones and one was the queen. But I, along with several onlookers, declared this to be hooey, as they all looked exactly the same to us. Plus the queen, who was probably doing some last minute Christmas shopping at Nordstrom, was nowhere in sight. After awhile, staring at a squirming clump of bees becomes creepy, so we moved on.

Once we’d explored everything else even remotely accessible to a 14-month-old, it was time to traverse the courtyard once again so we could head home. This time I could not deny Peapod the fountains, which I justified by acknowledging that the sun had come out and it felt a few degrees warmer. I set her down a couple feet away and watched her stare at the fountain like a 28-year-old girlfriend stares at the Tiffany’s diamond case.

She toddled into the fountain and stood right over two spouts, shrieking in delight. One hit her square in her diaper butt, making it droop visibly lower and lower with each squirt. The other hit her alternately in her belly and in the face, depending on how far she was leaning forward. Apparently this was the best thing that had ever happened to her during the entire duration of her 14-month life span, which sort of hurt my feelings since I'd baked her a three-layer carrot cake from scratch for her first birthday, but I digress... She shrieked, giggled and started yelling phrases that sounded distinctly like they were coming from an agitated Japanese advertising executive.

I burst into the kind of uncontrollable giggles that make your eyes water and your face hurt as I watched her stomp and strut and screech and proclaim without any real words that this fountain was indeed the 8th wonder of the world. As I drank in the gorgeous scene as only a new mom can, laughing and bursting with pride, I started to realize that I was eventually going to have to transport this soggy baby home. My big intervention was to pull off her socks and shoes, as if this would make any difference at all. As I did so, I noticed a few sidelong glances from my seemingly disapproving peers, but this only made my pride surge, rather than dissuade me. My baby’s no whimp! She can handle a little soaking on a December day, little half French-Canadian that she is!

Once Peapod was as wet as if she’d jumped into Lake Michigan, I figured it might be time to end the show and get her little body warm and dry. I stuffed her wet clothes into a baggie, re-diapered her little butt, wrapped her in her cardigan and held her close as we headed toward the exit. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another family head tentatively toward the fountain and pretended not to notice as the mom coaxed the shoes off her curious toddler. We’d started a trend!