Good times, folks. Good times.
Friday night was the preschool dinner, which went fine. After Bambina had a meltdown in the middle of it and I carried her out of the hall abduction-style with everyone watching. We sat down on the couches outside to have a talk, she agreed that she wanted to "try again," and we went back inside. Luckily, it was all preschool parents in attendance so they all found it humorous--and no doubt relieving that it wasn't their kid doing the marquee tantrum this time. We came back in and our friends laughingly said, "Welcome back!" It's good to have a sense of humor when your kid is being a pill. Then, finally, the food came and it became obvious that Bambina had been ravenously hungry. (Not that I hadn't been offering her food all afternoon before the dinner, to derisive, "I'm NOT HUNGRY!" responses). But as soon as she wolfed down some really not-yummy nuggets and pasta, she was back to her sparkly charming self. We could tell she was starving because she actually tried and ate pasta sauce, something she has made a life philosophy of avoiding. Tomatoes are her thing to avoid, and she will not eat anything tomato-related as a matter of principle. Not even ketchup. I even bring mayonnaise packets (pilfered from Dunkin Donuts) to McDonalds so she can dip her fries. So the night ended up being fine, also because the bingo thing never happened. The group ended up being largely toddlers who pretty much would have just tried to eat the bingo cards, so it never got off the ground. Awesome!
Then we went to the Museum of Science yesterday. We saw the Birth exhibit, which has a little booth in which you can watch actual movies of babies being born. Bambina and I went in while the BBDD loitered outside with the rest of the dads. We saw a woman give birth in a hospital setting and then a woman give birth at home. Real live movies of actual real live births. Bambina was totally riveted. She only freaked out when she saw blood come out with the baby in the hospital film. I tried to explain that no one was hurt or actually "bleeding, bleeding" as in an injury, and that the baby is protected by being in that fluid, and blah blah blah. She wasn't having it. I thought, "oh great, I've traumatized my kid" but when it was over she wanted to stay and watch it again as long as I promised to "cover my eyes when the blood comes out." The home birth one was actually a little more disturbing for me because it was kind of a hippie experience. The mother was saying things like "I just focused on feeling like the sun itself was shining out of my womb" that made me all cringey. Bambina liked it better though, because the mother gave birth in a bath, so the actual moment of birth seemed more peaceful for both mother and baby than it had in the hospital setting where there were lots of raised voices and grunting and knees up in the air type stuff. I think she liked it because, in talking about her birth (of which we know nothing), we try to imagine together what might have happened. We have decided together that she was probably born at home (we tell her that it's cultural; that in many other countries babies are routinely born at home, so it is likely that in China she was born at her Sheng Mu's home [Chinese for birth mother and which sounds nicer than "chinese mother"]). After seeing the movies she likes the notion that she was born at home and not in a hospital. My sister was born at home, so she loves that she and her aunt both arrived the same way. Although when we asked her later what she thought of the movies she said very simply, as most kids do, "I never want to have a baby in my tummy." I remember thinking that myself after watching my first childbirth movie too. So my work of freaking out my kid for this year is now done. :)
While at the museum some Harvard grad students were doing a voluntary study on how kids learn. Bambina was all over it; she loves quizzes. The study involves finding out at what age kids can discern "pretend" from "real" in a detailed way, to determine if there are earlier ages at which kids can begin to be taught history or science in a way that they can comprehend as "real." They showed photos of real people and cartoon drawings, like a "sailor" "princess" or "Native American." Then they told a quick story about each, like "the sailor had magic beans that let him live forever" or "the sailor sailed the seas and then retired to a cottage where he grew beans." Is this person real or pretend? And if so, why? It was fascinating to watch her responses, and seeing the difference between a photo of a real person with a pretend story and a cartoon picture of a person with a real story. The best part was when the researcher asked her "and why is that person real/pretend?" Every single time she looked at the woman incredulously and said, "Because!" As if, DUH, LADY; CLEARLY it's pretend!
On the way home in the car she said, "Would you like me to tell you a story?" Of course! We love her stories. She started telling us about the time she and her "stuffies" (stuffed animals) climbed to the top of the PETCO store and pulled the sign down. Then they climbed to the top of the Staples store and pulled the sign down. Then they switched the signs, so people were walking into the "Staples" "and saying, 'oh where are all the notepads I only see dog food!" And all the people were walking into the "Petco" "and saying, 'oh where is all the fish food I only see paper and pens! And me and my stuffies laughed because it was so funny." She was a few sentences into her next story when I pulled out a small bag of chips left over from our lunch. I ate two chips and was about to put the bag away when she stopped talking mid-sentence and pivoted like an adult: "Me and my stuffies were walking...wait a minute...what are you eating?" It was like her junk food radar could detect the sound of one single chip crunch from the front seat, over the sound of her own voice and the noise of the car. And the on-cue "wait a minute!" was hilarious.
As was my realization that I talk too much trash while driving. We were behind a car going kind of slow, so I said, "I wonder what's going on?" Then we heard from the back seat, "Come ON dude! MOVE!" Once again, I am Mother of the Year.