After a week snowbound family togetherness, we celebrated our release from our snow prison by…adding more family into the mix for some more togetherness. My sister, brother-in-law and their son N. came down for a long weekend to see our new house and let our boys spend some quality time together. N. is only five months younger than C. and it’s our intent that they will be bestest buddies growing up despite having half of the eastern seaboard separating them.
Doubling the toddler count in our rather small house was only mildly chaotic and the boys played in lovely harmony once we established that the big red engine was C.’s “special train” and he really wasn’t going to share it. My sister has expressed concern that her child is a bit of a doormat inasmuch as he allows other children to take things from him without protest. This is an asset when playing with C. in C.’s territory because it meant that shrill exclamations of “No, N.! My [insert name of vitally important personal belonging here]!” were not followed by desolate crying. By the end of the first evening, the boys were playing a wonderful game wherein C. did things and N. imitated him and if N. dared to do something wrong, like picking up the blue marker instead of the green one, C. would sternly correct him. It was like C. was the Borg leader, assimilating N., if the Borg had been apple-cheeked toddlers with enormous blue eyes on a mission to create a Universal Order of Cute.
The family visit for some reason struck me as a perfect time to host our first social event at our house so I invited my playgroup over on Sunday. Right. Because increasing the toddler count from 1 to 2, then 2 to 6 is the smartest thing I ever did. Feeding 6 toddlers donut holes and juice is an even better idea. Luckily, the train table has four sides so all the kids were able to squeeze in and have plenty of elbow room to dismantle the track that my husband had spent over and hour carefully assembling using the complex diagram that came with the set.
A note here about DC area playgroups: if you want to feel like a mental midget, simply attend a gathering of families like the ones who were at my house this weekend. At any given time, you will find people talking about such topics as potty training, communications law, urban planning, how to wean a child off a binky, foreign agriculture policy, Elmo, and civil rights. Playgroups are the best networking events I have ever attended. After one such event, I actually found myself in my annual review, recounting to my boss a conversation I’d had over the previous weekend with a Highly Placed Person of Influence who had shared some information with me. My boss had asked where I had been talking to that Person of Influence and I somewhat sheepishly replied that we had been at a birthday party for a two-year-old who was in the same daycare class as our children. My boss accepted that as a good explanation and asked what else the Person of Influence had said to me. Nothing, was my response, because someone had spilled their apple juice at that point and the conversation had ended in a scramble for paper towels.
After playgroup, we threw the boys at their beds and my sister and I fled to get a little shopping done before taking the kids out to Five Guys for dinner. At dinner I watched in astonishment as my nephew ate food that was not in the french fry food group and wondered what it was like to parent a child who eats actual meals instead of subsisting on Goldfish that he flings into his mouth on the fly.
By the third day of a three day weekend with houseguests, the Great Guy I Married was getting a little twitchy and needed some space so I sent him off to do his own thing for a bit. The rest of us headed out to an outdoor shopping center that N. thought was delightful but C. thought was a Palace of Broken Dreams because I took him into Borders and did not immediately purchase every cool firetruck and digger toy in the children’s section. The outing was redeemed by my brother-in-law showing C. how to smash snowballs on the pavement, an activity that stopped the tantrum for a while before C. remembered that an injustice had been committed against him and he wanted his daddy to come right the wrongs. Despite the deep trauma of various forms of Mommy Malpractice I committed during that trip, the lesson about snowball smashing has stuck and this morning I had to wrench C. out of a snowbank that he was using as a snowball factory to get him in the car to leave for school/work. I sure hope his teachers don’t think less of me for sending him to school with soaked mittens. Sigh.
It was, all in all, a tremendously satisfying visit, though my heart broke a bit when C. started looking around the house for N. this morning then walked by the guest room and informed us that “N. sleeping!” inside. Cousins are a good time and it’s no fun at all when they leave.