Saying “Peace, Peace” When There Is No Peace

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It’d been months since “The Great Toddler Hike,” and this session of Mama’s-Got-A-Wedding-To-Photograph-Today started with my now 2-year-old son and I waving out the kitchen window as my wife backed out of the driveway. I’d learned my lesson: Take it easy when she’s gone, otherwise you’ll die. Just try to keep the peace.

Peace?

It started out okay. We went down to a friend’s house so I could help them paint, and my boy even went down pretty easily on the unfamiliar bed. I was done in no time. I chatted with my friends as they worked on the trim, and after probably an hour went to check on my napping little dude. His eyes were wide open.

“Baba!”

He calls me Baba. That’s Hindi for Dad (I’m American, and lily-white). It’s also not what I expect to hear an hour into naptime. Maybe a snore. Some heavy breathing. Not a happy shout. Peace…

Well, off to the day’s special event: a birthday party for Dr. Seuss at the rec center. Grab a sandwich at the house. Easy.

“Cat in hat!”

“That’s right! The cat in the hat! Are you excited?”

“Aabrraabbbmmmarmmm.”

Okay.

We arrive just as things are getting going. A couple boys with red and white striped hats greet us, give the kiddo a Burger King® crown rip-off of the same hat and a sticker. This proves to be the high point.

We take our seats, and a kindly lady reads us The Sneetches, a pleasant enough tale, but her mumbly voice and uncertain pronunciation on several words made it hard for even me to pay attention. My son kept slipping off his chair on purpose and giggling. Occasionally, he’d show me his gift and shout “Sticker!” The lady glared at me several times. Apologetic shrug? Sheepish smile? No charming her.

After a rhyming eternity, the story ends. And the lady turns to the door and says, “Well, look who it is, kids!”

Look who it’s not.

Imagine a life-size Felix the Cat in the Cat in the Hat’s hat. Pathetic. I assumed this was a taxpayer-funded affair because it was so ridiculously off. My son? He assumed it was a mean trick and began to whimper. Then the Grinch came in, snarl and all. My son now assumed it was a Satan-funded affair. In between his moans, he’d shout “Out! Out! Out!” We got out. No green eggs. No ham.

I calmed him in the hallway by pointing at a colorful brick. We stared at it for a few minutes. A few minutes too long. The mascot creatures from Dante waltzed right past, and I could feel the wail coming. But it was okay. We went outside, right past those demons, and my son gave them both high fives. He spent the next hour repeating the new word I taught him: brave.

It was mid-afternoon now. At home, I felt like a little bit of a failure despite my proven vocabulary lesson, so fatherly ambition kicked in.

“You want to make a cake?”

“Caaaaaaake! Caaaaaake!”

Okay then. Open the box.

“Okay, pour this in the bowl.”

No problem.

Milk and oil next. Easy.

“I’d better do the eggs. Watch!”

Big mistake.

While my son “watched,” I cracked the eggs and got the beater ready. Then I heard it. Smack. Smack, smack, splat! Toddler chuckle.

Eggs, eggs, everywhere, and not a cloth to clean. The dog started licking them up. My son was playing with the eggs. Now, he was fighting with the dog for the raw yokes.

This is his "fight the dog" face.

This is his “fight the dog” face.

Peace?

I got it cleaned up. We played with toy trains until the cake was ready, and my son ate about a megaton. He was happy. I was happy. The dog was happy.

We watched Aladdin for a little while, and when the Cave of Wonders swallowed the titular character, my son said, “Sca-wy!”

“Scary, yeah!”

“…..Brave!”

We goofed around a little longer, and I put him down about fifteen minutes early—the short nap and all. At last, peace!

But while the peace was refreshing, the earlier mess was a lot better. We had a lot of fun, and my boy learned about being brave.

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