Old Habits

A thousand years ago, when I used to be a lawyer, I'd dash into Starbucks for my caffeine fix and sometimes see them.  Mommies, enjoying a latte, glancing at the newspaper while their little one chewed a scone or slept in a stroller.  "Who are those women?" I'd wonder, as I calculated how many tenths of an hour I'd have to make up in exchange for my coffee break (.4).  "What lives they must lead.  No deadlines, no stress. . . ."  Then I would grab my coffee, which I drank without sugar to avoid standing in line for condiments (.1), and hustle back to the office.

Fast forward.  I've scuttled my career and have kids in tow.  But I still gaze at those women sipping their coffee, flipping through the paper  checking their iPhones, and wonder about their lives.  Because my trips to the coffee shop look a little different. 

Today, we had no adult food in the house and I hadn't eaten when I picked Buzzy up from preschool at 1:00, so I planned to grab lunch, and pick up some bread and milk at the local coffee shop/bakery/wanna-be hipster hangout.  But before we left preschool and its Lilliputian potties, I asked Buzzy if she had to use the bathroom.  She said no.  I asked if she was sure.  She was.

At the coffee shop/bakery, I ignored Buzzy's whines for a cookie, ordered soup for myself and a scone for the kids, and sat us all down.  To protest my cookie veto, Buzzy repeatedly threw her coat on the floor and picked it up.  When that grew old, she announced she had to go to the bathroom.  I strapped the baby into her stroller, and we navigated the crowded shop. 

"I have SO MUCH POO!" Buzzy's three year old voice piped clearly.  The crowd of hipsters parted like the Red Sea.  She wasn't kidding, either, and sat on the potty for the long haul.  She would have settled in with the Times if she could read.

After five minutes, I had to ask.  "Honey, are you done yet?" 

"No! I have more poo!" she said in a voice that carried well past the thin door separating us from the seating area.  Rosie wasn't happy about being stuck in the stoller in the bathroom stall and started to wail.  I began to wish for reading material of my own.  Fifteen minutes later (.3), we finally left the bathroom. 

My soup was stone cold, and a family of three was now sharing the other end of the table.  They were all reading quietly--the father was halfway through Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, and the mother had something that looked equally serious.  Buzzy, mood much improved after camping out in the potty, started chattering to Rosie.

It must be shared that Buzzy has the innocent and unfortunate habit of calling Rosie 'pussycat'.  (We traced it back to Rosie's love of cats and Buzzy's book of nursery rhymes, which includes one about a pussycat going to London to visit the queen.)  Actually, it's no secret after today. 

"How's my little pussy?" Buzzy called to the baby in her high chair.  The family of three looked up from their books in unison. 

"Is my little pussycat hungry?" She shoved part of the scone in her sister's mouth.  "Does my little puss want more?"

Time to leave the cold soup and to get my loquacious preschooler out.  Halfway to the door, I realized I'd forgotten the bread (upon which my grand dinner plan of grilled cheese sandwiches depended), so I quickly returned to the counter to buy a loaf.  In lieu of lunch, I also bought a cup of coffee.  I still drink it without sugar to avoid standing in line for condiments.  Sometimes, .1 of an hour is just too long.

Simply Irresistible

Rosie's climbing stairs, cruising between the sofa and the very pointy-cornered coffee table, and trying to pull up on everything from the cat to random strangers' legs at the library. This baby took her sweet time deciding to move, so we're relieved to see her motor around--and, hey, if she makes some new friends while doing it, all the better.

The unexpected fall out is that Buzzy is jealous now, over a year after Rosie hit the scene. None of her projects are safe, and Rosie needs more attention to avoid injury (see, e.g., climbing stairs; the very pointy-cornered coffee table). Sometimes, Buzzy plays the baby--complete with potty accidents and acting 'naughty', then pleading, "But, Mama, I'm just a baby and don't know better!" Other times, when I have to tell her 'no', Buzzy morphs into a teenager. She slams her bedroom door and yells, "I don't want to hear any more. Just stop!" I am shocked at the ferocity of her three year old temper. Of course, we are trying to curb her tantrums, but she has me fearing for the teen years already.

In the meantime, comic relief abounds between the storms. Somewhere, Buzzy picked up the phrase, "It's not fair." She uses it whenever she doesn't like something. "Mommy, it's not fair that we're having tomatoes at dinner." "Mommy, it's not fair that I have to get dressed." "It's not fair that it's raining." Life isn't fair a lot when you're three. Especially when you don't have strong grip on the meaning of the phrase.

Luckily, most of the time, Buzzy tries hard to be a good big sister. In fact, she'd like me to let her feed, dress and bathe the baby. ("It's not fair" that I don't--but, in these parts, mis-matched three year olds get indulgent smiles, but mis-matched babies just have lazy mothers.)

One task she does take seriously is accompanying Rosie up the stairs. Buzzy likes to crawl up a few steps ahead of her, glancing backwards to make sure Rosie is following. She calls it "assisting" her sister, but she pronounces it "resist."

"Mommy, can I resist the baby?" Freudian slip or three-year-old vocabulary mix up?

Personally, I can't resist either one of them--but I'm keeping a close eye on both.