Forget John Malkovich. I want a portal into Kate.

Posted: November 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Extended Family, Housewife Superhero, Miss Kate, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop | 2 Comments »

I collect brother-in-laws named John. I currently only have two, but my sister Ellen is single so there is a chance that I could add a third to my set some day.

My one brother-in-law John–the Coastie who’s married to Mark’s sis, Lori–he and I have a long-standing joke about the Miller’s $30-spending-max holiday gift exchange. It goes back to when I wasn’t yet married into the family, as he was. He delighted in taunting me year after year about whether or not I’d be on the gift exchange list. Then he’d dangle his inclusion in my face by saying “Neener neener neener!”

It was clearly a very mature joke, and likely not funny to anyone other than John and me, but isn’t finding those perversely-amusing common grounds to laugh about when you’re flying on tryptophan and bourbon what brings families closer together?

So anyway, now that I’ve made the grade and am officially and securely part of the gift exchange, I got an email from Mark’s cousin Maggie’s fiance Josh. (You following that?) Due to his engaged status he’s in the mix this year (though frankly I think he was last year too and the Millers are growing a bit lax about the exclusivity of membership). He got Kate to buy for this year and wanted some ideas about what she might like.

Pondering what gift booty would delight Little Miss Kate made me realize the extent to which three-year-olds live in an altered LSD-trippy parallel universe. One where the most mundane everyday objects take on a fascinating sheen.

Like, we were at a toy store yesterday and amidst all the cool fun stuff and actual toys, Kate spotted a plastic placemat with pictures of something like goldfish on it. She woozily, adoringly clutched it to her chest like a diamond tennis bracelet from Tiffany.

“This placemat, Mama,” she whispered with reverence. “I love this placemat. Can I please get it?” Then, realizing there were others with different designs she started yanking them off the rack with delirious glee. “Oh look they have more! There’s this one? I love this too! I want all of them, Mama! Can I have all of them? Please?”

Invoking my well-honed powers of Resisting a Child’s Desire to Buy Crap, I heard myself say, “If you really want one you can ask for it for Christmas.” Then I thought what an absurd Christmas list item that is. Other kids want dolls, Legos, Thomas the Tank Engine. Kate wants a placemat. And she’d truly be BLISSED OUT to get it.

Before having kids I cracked up hearing that my friend Shelley’s son slept with his beloved Wiggles video. As in, clutching the actual video in the box, not having it playing while he slept. Well, joke’s on me when Kate spends a rainy winter night cuddled up with her stuffed dog Dottie and a placemat.

Kate’s other Christmas list items are barely better. Somewhere along the line she suddenly decided that scarves were the coolest things EVER and spent the better part of a 75-degree day pleading with me as if her existence depended on it–and how could I be so cruel as to deny her?–”I want a scarf, Mama. A SCARF! I need one right now!” The small plastic bowl with a snap-top lid that a friend recently left at our house became another object of lustful desire. They’ll be happy to know she had to hug it during several potty sessions. (I ran it through the dishwasher.) And truly I can’t think of any gift she’d love more than a package of seeds–poppy seeds, flower seeds, any type really as long as they are little and plentiful. I’d even wager you could wrap up a dust bunny in a little box and Kate would ceremoniously carry it to her altar–I mean her play kitchen–with the intensity and loving care you’d reserve for a baby bird.

Anyway, I hope all these things are providing Josh not only some good gift ideas but also the realization that, as a man on the brink of marriage, the next big plunge into parenthood could result in becoming the owner and operator of a small person who you love madly madly madly but whose passions and interests you can rarely make a whit of sense of.

But hey, it keeps things lively around here.

As for Paige, she’s also happily entrenched in her own trippy reality. Sadly we’re past the stage where she’d wave her arms around, catch sight of one hand, then slowly turn it over and back in front of her eyes, examining it as if this brilliant device was something she’d never seen before and wasn’t right there, attached to the end of her arm. God, Mark and I loved that.

If Paige was writing an online dating bio she’d add the fringe on the bottom of the couch to her list of interests. Despite whatever real toy she’s given to wrangle with on the floor, she’ll eventually roll herself over to the couch and flap one hand slowly through the tassley fringe with deep contentment.

And whenever I carry her in my front-pack and we walk under a tree, Paigey arches her whole body backwards to stare up at the leaves and the light and laugh and laugh and laugh. I mean, sure, leaves certainly are funny, but they’re not quite the laugh riot Miss P makes them out to be.

All this fascination with the mundane has made me realize how much being a mother is like working a crowd of drug-addled concert-goers. Most of the time I’m in a Stadium Security role, just trying to coral the happy trippers, and make sure it all stays mellow and fun and no one loses an eye. But inevitably somewhere in the course of the day I’m more like a Rock Doctor triaging bad trippers in a tent, helping them get through fits over inanimate objects they’re convinced have come to life to torture them. You know, managing a situation like: ” This sock is hurting me!!! It hurrrrrts meeee! Bad sock!! BAAAAAD!!”

Oh sure. A bad trip like that? I’d say I take on one of those–sometimes as many as three–nearly every day.

And to think I don’t even have a walkie talkie or a medical degree.


2 Comments on “Forget John Malkovich. I want a portal into Kate.”

  1. 1 Shelley said at 3:50 pm on November 9th, 2008:

    You are so funny! I’m a fan!

  2. 2 Dawn said at 8:53 am on November 20th, 2008:

    Indeed I can relate. When Henry was 3 he and I had a stand off about a bottle of barbeque sauce from Omaha steaks. He didn’t want it to spice up his chicken nuggest. He just liked the bottle. It too was placed on the top of his holiday wish list. I believe he ulitmately forwent the bottle for a Bob the Builder tool set.

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