Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Pretty Darned Nice Valentine's Day

Yesterday the weather was colder than usual, and very windy. We had a lot of errands to do, beginning with ordering circles cut out of card stock from a local scrapbooking shop. (I'm assisting a motivational speaker with that bit of workshop preparation.) I'd called the store the night before and been assured that they could cut 500 circles, but when I appeared in person the next day, the morning staff balked at my request and I felt like I was talking with a small-thinking person. ("Cutting those circles will take a long time and probably will take more than two days to complete and I'm leaving soon and I have no idea what you should do about this...")

As I stood there, trying to keep an eye on my Game Boy addict of a son, I tried to think of a different place to get the circles in time for my client's Friday workshop. I'd almost resigned myself to cutting the things myself when, luckily, one of the shop owners overheard our conversation and goodnaturedly intervened. "Sure, I can cut 'em!" she said with a smile. "I've got oodles of time!" She reminded me of someone's grandmother; I told her I thought I was in love with her and she laughed. My son wandered off, with my permission, to play in the store's playroom (I swear that place was Estrogen Central) while I worked out the details with Diane.

Finally I left Diane with six colors of card stock and three contact numbers, and headed over to the mall for lunch with my son's dad. I was feeling simultaneously content at having sorted out the circle order, and bummed out at having remembered our first Valentine's Day after the kiddo was born. Back then, I was two weeks postpartum and had gingerly packed the kiddo and my four-hours-of-pushing bum into the car to shop for something for my son's dad for Valentine's Day. I'd just bought him a beautifully illustrated book (which he later gave to the kiddo to tear apart) when my cell phone rang. It was my son's dad. "Where the hell are YOU?" he'd angrily asked, shattering my happy mood. Things were so hard back then. I normally don't dwell on that Valentine's Day, but the holiday and my son's recently turning five have bumped some things to the surface and I'm trying to let them come up as they will.

Anwyay, my son's dad and I don't socialize under normal circumstances, but this was the week that our son was with me for six days straight without seeing his dad, and since the two of them had almost seen each other last week when my son's dad dropped off his games, I wanted to complete the loop and get them together. Complicated. Anyway, we arrived early at Rubio's, ordered, and waited for my son's dad to show up. Despite our vigilance, he managed to sneak up behind us. I swear, that guy is "The Sidler" (from "Seinfeld" -- remember?). We grownups didn't talk much to each other, which was fine because the kiddo did enough talking for everyone. The little guy has learned to tell jokes, although he tends to make them up and often goofs up the punchlines...which makes them funnier to me. I'd bought valentines for the kiddo's class and had the kiddo write out a couple to his dad, so he delivered these at lunch.

After lunch, we all walked across the mall for a few minutes. The kiddo wanted us to hold his hands and play the one-two-three-JUMP game, so we did. He really enjoys having the two of us together and although I always feel sort of sad when we pose as an intact family, I love that we're able to at least give the kiddo that for a little while. I still feel puzzled sometimes about my son's dad's inability to pull it together and settle into being a family with us, but I've started to accept his limitations and have turned my energy toward making a different kind of life for myself, and possibly finding someone else who will make a family with me in the future. I still want that so much.

After my son's dad departed, we ducked into Target for some cold meds, then went home so the kiddo could rest. He seemed to be coming down with the same cold I've had, and was fading fast. We'd just played a few (hundred) games of Crazy Eights when the scrapbooking store called to say the circles were ready. Well, golly. That was fast. I let the kiddo play video games for a while, then we got dressed for wind and went out to pick them up. On the way to the store, somehow the topic of ice cream came up, so we agreed to pick up some ice cream on the way home. The circles looked great and had already been paid for (client's credit card), so I thanked the cashier and we walked to the nearby grocery store. By this time it was grocery rush time (after office hours, when everyone is stopping at the store before dinner), so we had to wait a while, but the kiddo was in a fabulous mood and it was no problem.

Once home again, I gave the kiddo some dinner, then scooped ice cream into a cone for him and watched him like a hawk. Although our carpet is certainly nothing to brag about, I didn't want to deal with ice cream on it, too. By the time he was finished with it, he looked like he was wearing a brown goatee. "Hey, Mom," he said, "why don't we have ice cream cones more often?" I showed him his face in the mirror and we both laughed, but we do have a whole box of cones and plenty of ice cream, so I guess we'll be doing this a few more times in the near future.

We played video games on my bed, and since the kiddo was still in an amazingly happy, if snot-filled, mood, I told him about the Charlie Brown Valentine's Day special that was coming on at 8:00 (normally his bedtime). We agreed that he'd get himself ready for bed before the show came on, and we'd watch it on my bed. He was as good as his word, and by 8:00 we were parked on our bellies at the foot of the bed, chins in our hands, watching the show. At one point, my son reached over and messed up my hair (his latest trick), and I kissed his big toe.

It was a pretty darned nice Valentine's Day.