Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Great Jacket Dilemma (Choose Your Own Adventure)

Thursday night was Pink P's spring concert. Originally, I planned to write a follow-up piece to the one I wrote after her concert last year (link). My biggest challenge this go around was figuring out how to appropriately praise each kid when one (Pink) was clearly into it and the other (Sky) clearly wasn't. While hundreds of kids sang smiling around him, energetically engaged in the various hand motions, Sky stood stock still with his arms wrapped tightly across his chest and a grimace spread across his face. It was as if the whole thing was just too embarrassing to even bear. To his credit, he did seem to be singing, but it was hard to tell because his jaw was so tightly clenched. I mean, he did great. But, we still clearly have work to do on helping him see the value in feigning to care about things he doesn't like.

Pink did awesome as usual. She was a little nervous at first and looked like she was on the verge of tears when she couldn't locate us in the crowd. But, otherwise, she was totally indistinguishable from her peers. Her ability to blend in so effortlessly still amazes me. We often leave Sky's concerts in a somewhat stunned silence, and it takes a bit for the nervous tension to dissipate. That never happens with Pink, and the difference between the two leads to a somewhat uneven post-show reaction from us. I'm working on figuring out the right amount of enthusiasm and praise. We're proud of both kids, of course, and honestly, it has nothing to do with their ability to stand in front of hundreds of parents in a crowded gym and repeat songs they've spent months learning.

The real story of Pink's concert was The Great Jacket Dilemma.

Two songs into Pink's school program, Stow announced he needed to go potty. Of course he did. You know, since we were at the top of the bleachers in a packed gym, and since I knew Pink would panic if I suddenly disappeared from the crowd. So, I did what any other mom in the same situation would do, I told him he was just imagining it. To be on the safe side, though, I kept checking with him and reminding him that he really didn't need to go potty. For awhile, it looked like my strategy might work. But with just two songs left in the program (it was a looong program, you guys), Stow decided that he couldn't wait another second. Realizing my gamble wasn't going to pay off, we left Ren** and Sky in the stands and wove our way through the crowd of people and across the gym to the restroom. 

To his credit, Stow moved quickly and took care of his business without incident. But, then, tragedy struck. In an epic parenting move heretofore unparalleled (and probably never to be duplicated), I dropped Stow's jacket into the toilet when I went to help him pull up his pants.

Quite unexpectedly, I found myself in the middle of a Choose Your Own Adventure:

A) Leave the jacket in the toilet and run.
B) Take the jacket out of the toilet and deposit it directly into the trash can.
C) Take the jacket out of the toilet and pretend nothing had happened.

Digression: After we got home from Pink's concert, I asked you, my readers, what you would do in the same situation. Interestingly, responses were fairly even. Until, that is, I introduced the possibility that the toilet had not been flushed. Then everyone changed his/her answer to B. Thanks guys. Really. Sheesh

 To tell you the truth, I tried a bit of all three of these with varying degrees of success.

For a few nanoseconds after the jacket hit the water, I considered leaving it there. But, then I imagined the janitor keeling over with a heart attack upon finding an extremely water-logged, poop-brown jacket in the toilet the next morning. I couldn't live with myself if I inadvertently killed an imaginary janitor.

So, I grabbed the jacket out of the toilet and dropped it into the nearest sink. As luck would have it, the paper towel dispensers were all jammed. Had the jacket hit the water after we'd flushed, I would have just wrung it out into the sink. But, flush status was negative, so I needed to figure out how to reduce the amount of water in the jacket without completely fouling myself. (I suppose you'll want to know that it was #1 and NOT #2). I tried squeezing out the water by stepping on it, but I only succeeded in grossing myself out even more. Stow suggested using toilet paper, but that's his solution to everything, and believe me, it's not a solution.

The jacket's old. We bought it for Sky seven years ago when we lived in Tokyo. It's faded and the seams are worn. Multiple washings have left it slightly misshapen. Sure, I like the fact it's reversible and that it's thicker than our other spring jackets. But, I could live without it. And, as I stood there, urine-soaked jacket dripping gently on the floor, I could hear laughing and clapping coming from the gymnasium. Time was running out. I decided to cut my losses and turned toward the large trash can.

"Nooooo!!!!!" Stow cried. "Don't throw away my jaaaaackeeet! I wuv my jacket!"

There was a round of applause in the gym. One song left. We needed to get back in there before it was too late. Remembering all of the hundreds of times I'd been fouled by vomit, feces, and urine, I decided to just suck it up.

Bending over, I rolled up the jacket with the wettest parts inside, washed my free hand and led Stow back into the gymnasium. Holding the wet jacket down to my side like a fashionable clutch, I walked Stow back to our seats (passing hundreds of people in the process). We sat in a couple of empty seats toward the front of the crowd and waited for the final song to end. I tried to focus on the concert, but my brain was working overtime to avoid thinking about the jacket at my feet. When the song ended, Stow and I wove our way through the crowd to go retrieve Pink. Since it was a mass of humanity, my purse/potty jacket may have rubbed against a few people along the way. I'm pretty sure I managed to avoid hitting any small children in the face with it, but I can't be positive.

When we got to the car, I put the jacket in a plastic bag and washed my hands with an antibacterial wipe, and when we got home, I threw the jacket into the wash. 

In the end, everything was fine. But, the irony of this experience wasn't lost on me. For our family, concerts in gymnasiums full of people are anxiety-provoking affairs. All sorts of unfortunate things have been known to happen--from Ren not being able to walk after sitting on hard wood for too long to Sky making loud noises and inappropriate sounds effects or otherwise drawing attention to himself with truly bizarre behavior. Or, from Pink complaining loudly about the quality of the music to Stow hitting his siblings, wetting his pants, or falling up or down the steps. Even when nothing major goes wrong, there are usually enough troubles to stress me out. This time, though, everything went perfectly.

That is, until I dropped the jacket into the toilet. It turns out that sometimes the source of adventure is all me.

** Man with cane + preschooler + top row of bleachers  = insanely high risk

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