Monday, February 16, 2009

It's a Llama

Elizabeth loves animals. We have so many stuffed animals, plastic animals, animals of various shapes and sizes in our house. She plays with them all day. She carts them from room to room, she pretends with them, she rescues them. She really enjoys them. Hope likes them, too, but she doesn’t insist on being surrounded by her menagerie at night like Elizabeth does.

She knows about animals, too. She has learned from Diego and the Wonder Pets (seriously!). Robert also teaches her a lot. When we go to the library, he always checks out a book or two on her level to read to her. (Is that the sweetest thing? I did not teach him to do that.) We have lots of books and magazines about animals, so she has lots of resources. (In educator speak, that is called having a print-rich environment. The Kentucky Department of Education would approve.)

Last week, I was reading a condensed version of the Lion King to her. When we got to the page with Timon and Pumbaa (yes, I looked up how to spell those names), I told her Pumbaa was a warthog, but I didn’t know what Timon was.

“That’s a meerkat, Mommy.”

“How do you know that? Did Robert teach you?”

“Uhm, no. It just looks like a meerkat.”

Forget fifth graders. I’m not smarter than a four-year-old.

So anyway, I’m saying all this to get to a point. Mark had the day off today, so I took the opportunity to leave the older children at home with him, doing chores and school work, to have some time out with my little girls. I rarely get out with just Elizabeth and Hope. I remember why now. Elizabeth is a delight to travel with. Hope still needs some practice. But I so wanted to enjoy a little Mommy time with them.

Our first stop was the bookstore. I told the girls they could each get one book. We found the clearance table and each chose a nice book. I had one thing to look for, and then we could go. Then they saw the animals. Did I mention that my girls like animals. The books were dropped and they began to plead. I honestly did not mind giving in because, believe it or not, these are not children who go into a store and cry for everything they see. They often ask for books (or critters, of course).

We began to look through the choices. Hope was pulling Backyardigans and Wonder Pets off the shelf faster than I could pick them up, when I saw a Boots the Monkey doll. (For those who do not know, Boots is the best friend of Dora the Explorer. For those who do not know, Dora the Explorer is a fabulous cartoon for preschoolers, at least in this mom's opinion.) Elizabeth has been asking her grandparents for a Boots doll for two years. They have searched high and low. They’ve bid on eBay. They’ve Googled. There are gazillions of Dora dolls, but apparently her best friend Boots is not as popular. I was so excited.

“Elizabeth! Look! They have Boots!”

“Yes, and they have llamas!”

Llamas? I am certain that I did not know what a llama was when I was four, but hey, I couldn’t recognize a meerkat last week, so that’s not saying much.

“But don’t you want a Boots doll? You’ve been looking for one for so long.”

“No. I just want a llama.”

I should have picked up Boots, too, but by this point Hope was getting frustrated at me for not letting her have ALL the animals, and she began to wail. I just wanted to get out of Dodge. Hope doesn’t cry. She wails. I don’t know what else to call it. Maybe howling is a fair description. So howling, wailing, whatever. It was loud. In the quiet bookstore. I did what any loving mom would do. I stuck a paci in her mouth. (Please don’t tell me she is too old for a pacifier. I don’t care. When the paci is not there she reaches for her thumb or finger. I’d rather deal with the paci. We have other issues to work on right now. The paci will go when it goes.)

It didn’t work. She can wail around the pacifier. I have some talented children. I found a chair in the back and sat down with her, holding her tightly until she calmed down. Elizabeth picked out an animal for Hope and we headed to the checkout. But we had to pass the animal shelf again, and thus the wailing began again. All I could do was scoop her squirmy body up and scoot along to the front of the store. Elizabeth, who makes up for this good stuff at other times, walked quietly beside me, cradling her precious llama. I paid for our selections, with a crying (but no longer fighting) child in my arms and we left.

How special this was turning out to be.

We made another stop at Walmart, where Hope was able to remain calm enough not to alert the security folks. I even decided we would have some lunch together at Subway. Elizabeth wanted pizza, which she didn’t touch. Hope fought to stay awake. And I just sat back and smiled at my little beauties. They are so sweet. Even when it’s 3:00 a.m. and they want to color or eat raisins. Even when they have meltdowns at the most inopportune times. They are still incredible, all five of my children are. I am thankful.

My husband and my parents wanted Elizabeth to have the Boots doll. She’s wanted one for so long, and really doesn’t ask for big things. In fact, she doesn’t ask for much at all. So when Mark went out for a haircut this afternoon, he picked it up for her. (So sweet.) Once she saw it, she decided she would be willing to keep it. She’s tucked in bed now, surrounded by her squeaky mouse, her dolphin, her puppy, her llama, and Boots. A dozen or more animals are at the foot of the bed.

These days will pass too quickly, so I want to enjoy and remember them all. I don’t know what I’ll do when she starts asking for real animals. Mark my word – we are not having a squeaky mouse or a monkey in this house, and I don’t think we have room for a llama.



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