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Monday, March 27, 2006

You Know You're Gonna Do It

When you go out of town you know you need to load your pockets with cash. Either that or have a big fat ATM or Credit Card handy because leaving the house it just expensive. Gas, food, snacks... toys.

We spent the weekend in Los Angeles - our home before exile in the desert - for a friend's birthday party and to see people we love and miss. Significant Other version 1 (4 year old son) is such a homebody that almost from the time we got in the car was asking to back go home. Not that he doesn't like to go. In fact, when we are home he asks everyday where we will go that day. And he is game for a long car ride provided he has an adequate supply of snacks, juice, toys, books and music he can "rock it dude" to (hey, don't blame me the "rock it" comment is all S.O.'s doing). And provided the final destination sounds promising.

So a 'party' sounded just swell to him and after a 4 1/2 hour car ride we were there. My girlfriend whose party it was announced games with prizes, so needless to say, he was intrigued. But this was already well after 9 o'clock and he was tired. The adults played 'adult' games (now, stop it! That is not what I meant, get that mind out of the gutter!) for a while and he tried to feel like it was fun but he just couldn't manage it. And after he dozed in his chair and did a stupendous stuntman-like prat fall off of it, sending him to the ground and the chair upended, and a collective "Oh!" from the crowd of game playing adults we figured it was time to go back to where we were staying the night. So we made our way out of the party, which always takes a long time because you have to say goodbye to everyone and you get involved in another conversation, "Oh did I tell you so and so is...", and frankly, you just don't want to leave yet. It always takes forever to get out of a party doesn't it? And especially when you haven't seen people in (*gulp*) a year and a half. You always seem to be leaving places before you are ready to when you are a parent of toddlers...

We were walking out to our car and Significant Other version 2 (2 year old girl) was more than happy to be making the trajectory towards bed but S.O.v.1 had heard that word 'prize'. It took me a few repeats to understand, through all the tears, "Me no want to go. Me didn't get a prize". Quick thinking I say, "Oh, I know honey. But you'll get your prize tomorrow for good behavior in the museum". He buys it and I feel pret-ty darned clever. See, we had planned on going to Angels and Shadows or Snowflakes and Leopards or Ashes and Snow, I think, in Santa Monica; the nomadic museum exhibiting the work of one artist's take on the relationship between human and animal... over and over and over and over and over and over... sorry, I am exaggerating. I was a stunning collection and beautiful exhibit, very absorbing... over and over and over and over... stop it! Sorry.

Next morning, on the way to the museum I kept reiterating that this 'prize' would be given after good behavior was exhibited over and over inside the museum - knowing full well that photographs are not the toddler's best friend. I thought the bribe would work given S.O.v.1's great love of animals and elephants, in particular, of which many were on display. But the ambience scared him. You know, it's the typical mysterious/spooky music along with dimly lit hallways with spotlights directing you specifically to the experience the curators hope you will have. But S.O.v.1 was not having that experience, he was having the "scary, me wanna go home" experience. And a scared toddler does not, under any circumstances, want to hear that home is 200 miles away and would take many hours in the car to get there even if we planned on getting there today. Which we did not. I am thinking, however, that there will be the inevitable "museum-to-squeeze-more-money-than-even-the-price-of-admission-out-of-you-store" at the end. And at this museum store surely there would be elephant and leopard figures to purchase. A new elephant for S.O.v.1 and a tiger figurine for S.O.v.2 would fit the bill perfectly! Boom, prize taken care of. Let's eat lunch!

Nope. Only really pricey postcards of elephants with little meditating boys next to them in robes. Not the 'prize' he would be looking for I know so I don't even try to convince him. I just try to put it off a little so that we can at least eat lunch first. Plus, 3rd Street Promenade is mere blocks away and we will find a toy store or something he likes there!

Except that we couldn't actually find lunch speedily. We went around and around and checked a few places and there were just no tables. It was Saturday at lunch time, what did we expect!? Finally we find mediocre and loud sports bar and get mediocre and not quite so warm sandwiches and burgers into our bellies. I must say our friend, and her boyfriend whom we just met that morning, did a fine job helping to keep our hungry and prize hungry toddlers entertained.

But still there was no prize and with a belly full of French fries, S.O.v.1 remembers this. S.O. and I then circle 3rd Street several times in search of the Toys R Us we remembered being right there! with no luck. Finally, we find a toy store and by this time S.O.v.1 is well asleep in the stroller he is now too big for (but thank goodness for it because who can weave in 3rd Street foot traffic carrying a 45lb little guy!) but S.O.v.2 is well awake. Within minutes we find the perfect 'prize' for S.O.v.1 and send our little girl on the loose telling her to look around, that she can pick one thing, not too big.

Now this is how you know they are always listening and understand more than even they know let alone you. S.O.v.2 plays around with several things with some midling interest. But then I, without having looked at the price, see a rack of push toys and pull one down. She immediately lomps on to it and doesn't let go. By the time I look at the price tag she is in love. She is pushing this little dragon all over the store. I try to direct her to a Zoey (from Sesame Street fame) doll. She has shoes with Zoey and she loves them. Elmo doll is likewise a no go. Puzzles, books and noisemaking toys - all no go. The more domestic toys; cooking, sewing, dollys - no go. See, she had been listening to us the whole time trying to placate S.O.v.1 for nearly a whole 24 hours, promising that he'd get a really nice prize if he behaved well (even though technically in our house fussing is not such good behavior and he had been fussing about the prize). She behaved beautifully the entire time. Not one annoying peep out of her, only the absurdly cute ones where you think "Can one child be so adorable? Where will all the other kids get cute if she has it all?"

And I kept asking her, "What about a new doll? You wanted a new doll?" and in the store I just got a shake of the head and an "un uh". All this time S.O.v.1, who had been so concerned with this 'prize' is sound asleep. The one we had been focusing on... And when it came time to actually get the 'prize' she had her plan in place and she stuck to it. And frankly, it worked like a charm. She never had bad behavior, she never fussed about it. She just refused any other toy and she wouldn't let the push-dragon go. She just wouldn't.

It was supposed to be a little thing, you know, a trinket. A little monkey doll or something to say "Remember we got that on our visit to LA to the birthday party"... So, S.O.v.1 got his little $9 tube of dinosaurs and S.O.v.2 got herself a handcrafted, heirloom quality push-dragon for $33.00... just a little something.

You know you're gonna get it for them when they give you that look... I don't know why we even bother to fight it.

3 comments:

demondoll said...

Oh, man that is so like some of our trips. The excruciatingly long drive; the exhausted child who falls asleep; the lingering goodbyes... I feel ya!

demondoll said...

We're at least 1 1/2 hours from the "city" and we have to prep like noone's bidness.

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