The Adventures of Hal

We had dinner at Chick-Fil-A tonight. Our local restaurant hosts “Spirit Nights” for various organizations. Tonight was for Destination Imagination, an activity that Daryl is involved in. A friend and her kids were there as well so we ate with her and her son while her daughter waited tables to help with the fundraiser. Jane stayed home and Daryl was, ironically, at his Destination Imagination practice.

Hal was a little wound up by the time we sat down. As he bounced on his chair, our friend commented how much she enjoyed reading about his antics on Facebook and on this blog. This kicked off a rapid-fire retelling of several of his more colorful tales from her and her young son, all centered around poop.

First, a favorite of our friend:

Jane and Hal were arguing about something that I don’t recall now.
Jane: “I am not going to argue with a four year-old.”
Dad: “You mean you are going to stop arguing with a four year-old?”
Hal: “Doodie Poopie bottom!”
Jane: “Yes.”

Then they talked about the time he rode his tricycle down to the neighbor’s house without permission. When I started to panic that he was missing, he rode back up and calmly announced, “I pooped in my pants.”

Then there was the day I found Hal in the bathroom, donning a pair of the blue latex gloves that we would wear while scrubbing the poop out of his underwear. When I asked what he was doing, he patiently explained to me that Sobo-be-nye-nye, his imaginary friend, had pooped in her pants.

I don’t know if Hal was listening and wanted to give them some firsthand exposure to his adventures or if it’s just not possible for an hour to go by without him entertaining those around him. Fortunately, the new tales do not involve poop. We sincerely hope to have permanently moved beyond those particular adventures.

Hal headed off to the play area while the rest of us sat around the table and talked. At one point, a lady approached our table, pointed at my husband, and said, “Excuse me, but your son is stuck between the slide and the wall.”

We all popped up to where we could see. Sure enough, Hal had managed to wedge himself between the slide and the wall. His face was already red from having been running around and now he was starting to look slightly panicked. His dad walked in and started talking him through it. Most of the dining room was now watching. One man asked me if he was trying to talk him through it or if he couldn’t figure out how to get him unstuck. I told him that my husband was the type of parent that makes a kid get himself out of a situation he got himself into.

Eventually, Hal was freed and resumed his running around. When he returned to the table, he was hot and sweaty and extremely thirsty. First he tried my lemonade but it was empty. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty and then tried to stick a straw in Jane’s cup that I was going to take home to her. “No, that’s Jane’s,” I said. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty.

That’s when he reached across the table for the other cup he saw, which belonged to Mary, our friend’s daughter who had finished with her volunteer work and was gathering her dinner before heading off to softball practice. Mary pulled it back and I told Hal that it was hers. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty.

Now, there’s something you need to know about Mary. And about us. We are not a family that is overly concerned with germs. We will drink out of each other’s cups, share food off the same fork, even share a toothbrush if the situation is desperate enough. Mary is not like us in this regard. She is not the least bit interested in swapping germs with anyone. At all. Period.

Before I had the opportunity to find a solution to Hal’s parched problem, he had reached for the cup again and managed to get his lips on her straw before I pulled him off.

“Mom,” said Mary. “I need a new straw.”

So… I stole her straw and put it in Jane’s cup and then let Hal drink some of Jane’s tea, the whole time wondering what Mary thought of me giving Jane a straw that both Mary and Hal had touched. Oh, well. When you live with Hal, you do what you gotta do.

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Germs’ll Make ‘Em Tougher

I have a dear friend who is a new mom and very concerned about germs. She dutifully followed the doctor’s instructions to keep the baby at home for the first six weeks. She also kept him away from children until he had his 3 month shots. And don’t even think about touching him if you haven’t washed your hands!

These may very well be good precautions that all mothers should take. In fact, I think more and more mothers are exceptionally careful about sanitizing their children’s environment. I am not one of them. Never have been, not even with my first child, and my children are almost never sick.

Daryl was born on a Wednesday, two days before Jane’s third birthday and three days before her party. Some of our friends assumed the party was cancelled. But, really, what is a mother to do? Tell her excited toddler that she doesn’t get to have her birthday party after all because of this little beast that she’s not sure she wants to accept into the household anyway? Take time away from cherishing my newest bundle of joy so I can try to remember who has been invited so I can call and tell them no?

Nah, party’s on! I even took him with me to Wal-Mart the day we got out of the hospital. I needed (wanted?) some things that, for whatever reason, I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) let anyone else get. And of course, I couldn’t leave Daryl at home. What if he got hungry?

The day of the party, he was passed around and around. Every adult and even some children took a turn holding him. It didn’t occur to me to ask anyone to wash their hands first. It just didn’t.

When Jane was in preschool, her teacher took me aside one day. “Jane keeps spilling her Cheerios on the floor and then crawling under the table to eat them! I keep telling her to stop but she won’t listen.”

I flashed back to all the times I had picked up Cheerios from the freshly vacuumed carpet and put them back in her bowl. Oh, shoot. Who am I kidding? The floor wasn’t vacuumed! When we got home, I had a very serious talk with Jane. “Jane, when you are at school, you need to not eat food that you’ve picked up off the floor. Okay?”

I come by my “germs’ll make ’em tougher” attitude honestly. For one thing, I’ve been an avid backpacker for many years. It’s a little hard to worry about germs and cleanliness when you are not showering for a week or two, conserving water, swallowing your toothpaste, picking up food from the ground and either eating it or packing it out, pooping while squatted against a moss-covered log. Some of that necessarily lax attitude is bound to seep into my front country life.

It’s not just the back country lifestyle, though. As I said, I come by it honestly. I seriously do not remember my mother being terribly concerned about germs. I can remember playing behind the backstop at her softball games. I would build intricate farms from whatever I could find on the ground. Sticks formed the fences that separated the animals. Rocks were the cows. Cigarette butts made excellent sheep, especially if the outer covering had come off. My mother always smiled and listened to my descriptions. She never yelled not to touch that stuff and go wash your hands right now, young lady!

She and I are outright germaphobes compared to my grandmother, however. I’ll never forget the day that I complimented her on this scrumptious gourmet bread being served at a family meal. “Where did you get it, Grandma?”

“Oh, that? I got it out of the dumpster behind the 501 Cafe.”

I spluttered, “You got it where? What were you doing in the 501 Cafe dumpster?”

“Well, I was checking the day old bread store’s dumpster next door and noticed that they had dumped some bread in this other one so checked it out. It’s perfectly good bread. It’s always wrapped in plastic. They just throw it away after it’s a couple of days old.”

I can assure you that I have never been dumpster diving and have no plans to try it out. But I’m also not going to fret over my child continuing to eat his ice cream after the dog licks it or finishing off that slice of pizza after it hits the floor. I do not expect everyone to be like me though, so I promise not to snicker (too much) if you exercise more caution with your own children.