Saturday, August 30, 2008

8/30/08 Party, party

Arrgghh....Katrina's capacity to make even the most innocuous outing miserable is unmatched.

This morning, I took her and Julian to a kitchen & bath store, then to a paint store. I didn't want to, but I have a deadline for bathroom vanities. I had very specific goals in mind, no putzing or browsing, and indeed, I was out of both places in 15 minutes and 5 minutes, respectively. We went in the morning, right after a big breakfast, so she was at her best of the day.

Katrina's best, however, includes ear-splitting shrieks if her playful brother so much as looks at her the wrong way, scraping a plastic toy along walls and bathroom fixtures to create the highest-pitched most irritating sound possible, throwing her arms around my legs and crying, followed immediately by flailing and demanding to be put down, freaking out if the wrong item is offered to her or if the right item falls out of her reach. I figured the lady at the bath place would triple the estimate I was requesting just to get us out of there. Meantime, my 4-year-old boy, not usually the most agreeable demographic, quietly sat and colored.

We fared a little better in the paint store, perhaps because I put her in the stroller. But once again, when she let loose her disapproval of, oh, say, the way the stroller was facing, she was shot looks from other customers that went beyond irritation and well into alarm.

I'll give her this: my decision-making process becomes far, far more efficient when she's there. No overthinking anything; I have no choice but to go with my first instincts.

This evening, Gabriel had a birthday party at a nearby inflatable play place, for a former kindergarten classmate. I brought him alone and dropped him off, though I stayed for a little while to chat with some of the other moms. Gabriel launched right into high-energy mode, showing off and jumping around like a madman, or running through a tightly packed huddle of giggling girls -- playing around them, but not exactly with them. They actually talked to each other.

The mom of the birthday girl assured me more boys were invited, though the gender imbalance hadn't occurred to me. I was too busy being bemused by the fact that I was the only mom not wearing a sari. And being the only boy so far clearly didn't bother Gabriel (others arrived later and I doubt he noticed that either).

Foolishly, I brought Katrina with me to pick Gabriel up from the party, mostly so Dave could eat dinner in peace. I don't know, maybe I thought it'd be fun to show off my cute toddler to those moms who'd I'd told about her. It wasn't a bad idea in theory, and several other moms had toddlers there too, for the whole party.

Once again, disaster. I don't know what came over me, but I gave Katrina a cup of watered-down apple juice, and she was outraged when I didn't stand at the crowded, wet, sticky table and just keep pouring her more. I tried to extract Gabriel from the throngs of kids, get him to thank the hostess and gather things to go, while Katrina angrily stormed away from me, crying furiously. Other parents saw her and started to comfort her if they didn't know me, or frantically pointed her out to me if they did. This tiny little girl walking around by herself, wailing in a small room swarmed with 6-year-olds, must be terrified and lost and desperately wants her mother's comfort! Yeah right.

I braced myself to pick her up and leave, when Gabriel started to go back into the fray. With Katrina flailing and screaming in a football hold, and in no position to weave through the crowd again to retrieve him, I had to call for my sometimes-hearing-impaired son so sharply that once again, I drew the now-familiar startled looks. I threw a harried and apologetic thank-you to the hostess over my shoulder, grabbed Gabriel's hand, and made a hasty ignominious exit. Stares followed me like a wake behind a boat.

Arrrgh. I did survive this once already, right? Does that qualify or excuse me from surviving it again?! I don't want to take her anywhere anymore!

Really, she can be a lot of fun. It's just all on her terms.


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