I figured I'd better finish the story of the last Saturday before the next one happens. Because there was more, after the Topless Yellow-Dog Terrorizing Incident. I did come back inside and gather up what was left of the shreds of my dignity--they made a tidy little palmful. Put a call in to Mandy and chatted with her for a while about the ins and outs of being slightly nuts, and then Kyran (!!) called, and we made plans to meet up at a local park with our kids. IN PERSON.
Hello? Meeting! Brilliant, beautiful genius blogger who just may be the most skilled and gifted writer I've ever run across on the entire Intarwebs! In public! In minutes! Ack, look at me! OK, so I'm a lost cause--best I can do is make sure I'm clean, really. But I'll have my daughter with me, and let's face it, she's become my "front" in social situations. She has better clothes and she's way cuter than me, and provides an alternate focal point for people we might meet. She's great to have around--besides just being fun, she gives me something to do with my hands, metaphorically speaking. Did I just compare my child to a cigarette or a cocktail? I think I might have. Which is odd, since I don't smoke or drink. Hey, maybe that's why I stay home so much. ANYWAY. I can be less than amazing, because I have this amazing kid. Which is the point of having kids, isn't it? That they can be awesome so you don't have to? What?
After a lengthy...well, let's call it a discussion with Bella over what she was going to wear to the park, I finally had her appropriately dressed and in the car, and we were off. And then we were there. And so was Kyran. And, oh my great gallumphing goodness, is she ever the bee's KNEES, that Kyran! I highly recommend meeting her and basking in the warmth of her aura. That's right, you can feel her aura, and it's warm. Jealous? If not, then let me tell you about her sons.
Three of them, she has...all thoughtful, quiet, bright, and gentle...and yet, still "all BOY." Her two oldest were occupied, when I arrived: one in burying himself up to the neck in the recycled rubber composite that made up the footing in the playground, and the other in using a small shovel to pack his jacket full of the stuff, including the sleeves. Both were barefoot (yep, move to Arkansas, and the kick-off-the-shoes-at-every-opportunity impulse kicks in as you cross the state line) and happy. Kyran was smiling softly at their activity, and as she picked up a few pieces of the finely-shredded tire-rubber and let them filter through her fingers and fall to the ground, she quietly said, "I'll be cleaning this stuff out of my washer and dryer for days." And I fell in love with her on the spot.
(As soon as we got out of the car, Bella had put her hands on her hips, looked around, and loudly asked, "Now--where are The Three Boys of Kyran?" I couldn't help thinking of them that way for the rest of the day. The Three Boys of Kyran.)
We made introductions all around, my just-turned-five-years-old daughter announcing at the outset, "I'm Isabella and I am VERY close to being six," and then she set in immediately attempting to dictate the activities of The Three Boys of Kyran. It didn't go well for her. The two bigger boys just kept doing their own thing, so Bella set her sights on the cherubic, flaxen-haired little one. All the boys were polite to a fault, but they weren't, even the smallest of them, going to be pushed around by some bossy, loud little girl. When faced with the delightful, calm, obedient behavior of Kyran's children, I was pretty much holding my breath while watching my own child. Oy.
It is once again reinforced to me, that, compared to other children, my child is...LOUD. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, as her father is the loudest person I ever met, at least until I met Bella. Her weekly progress reports from school are all glowing, with the exception of one problem area: Talking too much, talking without permission, talking too loudly, and talking when she's been asked to STOP talking. Whereas Kyran's littlest boy would often call out, "Mommy, watch me!", his cries sometimes being drowned out by the fruit of my belly doing her best hog-calling holler of a similar command, or something worse. Like when, after going down the old, much-grafittied slide in the old park, she called out across the playground to me, using that crystal-clear clarion voice of hers at full volume, "MOMMY! IT SAYS '*&#%-FACE' ON THE INSIDE OF THIS SLIDE!" (And yes, you are considering two options for that missing four-letter word, and all I'm going to tell you is that, sadly, it wasn't the milder of the two, and it made an alliterative coupling when paired with "face.") Kyran, much to her credit, after we met wide-eyed "holy crap" stares, did an abrupt about-face so that Bella would not see the laughter in her eyes, or the slight shaking of her shoulders. I pulled my best straight face and told my daughter that I knew she'd never seen that word before, but that it wasn't one that nice children say. "But Mommy, that's what it SAYS!!" *siiiigh*
Remember how thrilled I was when she learned to read? Somehow, in my mind, her reading was compartmentalized, confined to age-appropriate, preferably educational literature designed for children. It somehow didn't include Sharpie-scrawled obsceneties on playground equipment or billboards for "gentlemen's clubs," or the signs on the front of Cupid's Lingerie.
Bella also did some loud complaining about the non-compliance of Kyran's little fair-haired angel when it came to following her drill-sergeant-like orders. To be fair, he was a pretty good sport most of the time, but when it comes to Bella-directed play, I can attest personally that to keep up with her demands can be exhausting.
In a seamless segue, let me remind you how many dogs we currently have in our house. Six. We have six dogs. Ranging in size from ten to fifty pounds, and rambunctious as all get-out. And Bella rules them with an iron fist. She can control every last one of them like a mesmerist. She is good with dogs, and they respect her. But on Saturday, at the park? There were some people who brought an APBT puppy (Which, really--don't do that. Puppies and dogs do not belong in children's playgrounds for a number of reasons, from safety to hygeine, meaning that I don't want my kids playing where dogs are peeing...or worse.), which was very cute, very wiggly, and about the size of a healthy grey squirrel. The puppy was released to run free around the playground immediately upon arrival, with the main method of control seeming to be her owners waiting until she started happily jumping up on someone, and then exhorting that person to "SMACK HER!" We didn't do any puppy-smacking, but I was really wishing they'd just keep hold of the leash the poor little mite was dragging around.
Now, I have to tell you, there are certain things that Miss Isabella does not abide. MANY things. I could write for days about the things that my daughter does not abide, and only scratch the surface. But high on that list is unruly dog behavior. She does. not. stand for it. She can halt any one of our dogs in its tracks with a well-timed "NO!" as it's running headlong at her to jump up and lick and paw her. Because dogs are NOT allowed to jump up on Bella. They jump on me occasionally, and sometimes Delta gets to put paws on Alex. But NO ONE lays a paw on Bella. Because dog paws, they sometimes contain dirt. Or traces of dirt. Or the memories of the dirt of days gone by. In any case, Isabella ain't havin' no dog paws on her person. OR ELSE.
I was watching for it from the minute the tiny puppy arrived on the playground and was turned loose, because I knew that Bella had to be a powerful puppy-attractant, what with being loud, fast-moving, close to the ground, and especially considering that she must have the scent of a world of poodles about her that is powerfully enticing. So when The Incident occurred, I was prepared, but still helpless. Because Bella couldn't hear my helpful instructions on how to deal with the tiny, happy, charging puppy over her own shrieks of rage. Plus she was running backward at top speed. She ran right out of her little Birkenstock knock-offs, and kept going until she got clipped behind the knees by the foot-high barrier that forms the perimeter of the playground, and fell unceremoniously on her backside. And we thought she was screaming BEFORE that.
So there I stood, telling everyone who was looking in horror at this poor little apparently terrified girl recoiling from this tiny, tiny puppy, while I tried to explain, "She's not afraid of her. Really, she's not afraid of dogs. She's grown up with dogs! We have six dogs at home! She just doesn't want them to jump on her and get her dirty...She's not scared of her!" Kyran probably thought I was NUTS, and the dogs' owners continued to suggest that we "SMACK HER." The puppy, that is. And we didn't, and I tried to get across the point that taking an eight-week-old puppy to a public place, letting it run wild, and then urging strangers to hit it, was probably not the best method of puppy-socializing at their disposal, but it felt a little like my message wasn't getting through. Poor baby puppy.
Thankfully, by then, it was about time to go. Kyran and I promised to get together again soon in a more controlled environment, possibly sans children (because every time we'd get into a good conversation, we'd have to stop and locate someone or heed cries of "Mommy, watch this!", as if, in Kyran's words, the kids somehow thought that a trip to the playground was about THEM), and we gathered up our respective broods, my one being somehow more trouble to round up than her THREE.
On the way out, Webkinz were mentioned. Kyran's kids were getting new ones, and Bella had never had one, and Kyran introduced me to the powerful, powerful, incentive/bribe/punitive powers of "Webkinz minutes" on the computer. WHY DIDN'T ALL YOU WEBKINZ-SAVVY PEOPLE TELL ME ABOUT THIS A LONG TIME AGO? We stopped and got Bella her first Webkinz (a pink pony named "Alice"), and OH, the power I now wield, with the potential taking and giving of the Webkinz minutes! Thank you, Kyran.
The rest of you? Get yourselves a Kyran or closest possible equivalent at your earliest convenience. It'll change your lives. Two thumbs up from THIS blogger!