I feel kinda dirty. Just a little.
Today is Cleo's 2nd birthday, and I wanted to do something special, something "Mommy-Daughter", something that would last a while and leave her with a story and a present. But since we can't go on an African safari and shoot eland and bring home a mounted trophy, I opted to take her to the mall and go to the American Girl Store and Bistro.
See why I feel dirty? That's not at all who I am! I mean... dolls? Me? I have a hard enough time admitting that i'm a suburban stay-at-home mom; in fact, when "homemaker" came out of my mouth in customs, Craig and I both snickered for an hour. But I wouldn't choose any other life, and i'm still an edgy artist, so suck it. But let's face it-- life is a bit safer now, and I am apparently the type of mom who takes her kid to PetSmart to pet snakes on Monday and to the AG bistro for lunch on Thursday.
First I gave Cleo breakfast and a bath and got her dressed in her cutest sundress. When I asked her how old she was today, she flashed some sort of gang symbol and told me she was 2:
Our big day out began in the mall play area, where Cleo and a little 3-year-old boy who looked *just* like my kindergarten boyfriend played chase for an hour before the mall opened while a custodian vacuumed the play area. He was too fast to catch on film, but here is Cleo with an oversized disabled dalmation:
Next, we went to the newly renovated carousel, where Cleo immediately chose to ride the frog, who says "RUBBIT, RUBBIT," in case you were wondering. We had the first ride of the day and were the only folks on it. I thought about ignoring the 9,163 signs about "No Adults On The Animals", but then I thought about how graceful I would look heaving my 155-pound, 7-months pregnant carcass onto an undulating jeweled white tiger (see below) and opted to take pictures and keep my enraptured child from falling off her froggie:
When I somehow was able to lure her off the carousel without tears, we rode the elevator down to the American Girl Store and Bistro. I have never been in a place so ferociously pink, and I was instantly frightened. If you filled the New Year's crystal ball in New York with Pepto Bismol and launched it at the Museum of Natural History via a shrink-ray gun, you would get this place. Lots of tiny little multicultural people in tiny little clothes entirely surrounded by pink. We found the Bitty Babies, and once I reconciled myself to paying $42 for a stinky plastic doll and removed Cleo's death grip from the $200 doll stroller, we made our purchase and immediately made for the Bistro. Which was surprisingly good.
I asked her what her baby's name was, and she named her other two babies, Bibi and Mae. Then I repeated the question, gesturing at the new one. She looked at my stomach, and said, "Dat baby Shmoo". And it really degenerated from there. So we named the new baby Sue, not only because it is similar to Baby Shmoo, but also because I enjoy the inside joke of a child's doll named after the profane and inappropriate Baby Sue comic that cracks me up so much.
I admit to complete surprise at the tastiness of the food at the AG Bistro. I had spinach-artichoke dip, a ham and cheese panini, and delicious sweet potato fried thingies with cinnamon and sugar. Cleo had a tiny little hamburger, fruits, veggies, milk, lots of ketchup, and a little fruit cup covered with whipped cream. It wasn't on the dessert menu, but since she's never had real cake, ice cream, or cookies because i'm a horrible, anti-sugar parent, they were kind enough to provide fruit instead. Cleo was a bit scared of the sprinkles and whipped cream, but she was quite impressed that the confection arrived "on fire while dey sing birfday song". Here is her reaction to being presented with a flaming fruit cup and a 5-person harmonized version of Happy Birthday:
She ate half the fruit, spilled the other half on the floor, and was completely covered in whipped cream. So, basically, a normal lunch. Then we went to visit Nina (grandmother) at work and Mimi (great-grandmother) at home, then NAPS. Now Cleo is awake and eating her daily "vermin", the fructose-coated DHA vitamin around which her entire day hinges.
This time two years ago, I was strapped into a bed, peeing into a plastic bag and constantly pushing a little morphine button while trying desperately not to laugh or sneeze and bust open my stapled abdomen. My sparky little dude surprised us all by trying to break into the world upside down and stuck, and she has continued to surprise, amaze, and amuse us for the past two wonderful years. I never knew I had the patience or knowledge to be a mother, but it has turned out to be transformative for me as a woman, a wife, and an artist. I hope to give my daughter a rich life of interesting experiences, from snakes and cars and robots to days like today, where we wear sparkly dresses and eat fancy food in a pink doll castle.
It's a good life.