Monday, July 14, 2008

Day in the country

In the space of a week, it seemed, Baby Legume went from the hesitant one-step, two-step, fall-on-the-bottom drunken baby lurch to walking upright across the room. Her favorite ambulatory mode is to walk with objects clutched in each hand. I feel as though I’m watching human evolution occur before my eyes—the hominid creature progresses to bipedalism, and with that gains the enormous advantage (so anthropologists have said) of being able to transport random plastic blocks and toys in both hands across the room!

Then the evolving hominid sticks said objects in her mouth. To me, this doesn’t seem to have any obvious benefit, but baby hominid does enjoy sucking on plastic things.

Yesterday we drove down to my parents’ house, two hours away. My mother is turning sixty this upcoming Sunday, but we will not be able to see her on that date as Husband will be on-call at the hospital. Baby Legume nonchalantly demonstrated her walking abilities for Grandma and Grandpa. Bean-girl enjoyed herself playing with Grandma’s many decorative knick-knacks (many of them choking hazards for the Baby Legume).

We went on a prolonged quest to pick sweet cherries with Grandpa. My parents live in lush orchard country, and always seem to be asking us if we would like to pick one fruit or another. Grandpa was trying to take us to a new orchard (one that did not require us to pick a minimum quantity of fruit), and became completely lost, making more than one U-turn and, at one point, a dead stop on the rural highway. “Grandpa’s lost it!” my husband declared, and zoomed our car ahead of Grandpa’s to the cherry orchard he had spied ahead. Alas, no sweet cherries left in the first orchard; they’d all been picked, and only tart ones were left. “Will we ever pick cherries?” Bean-girl asked. “Bean-girl is asking existential questions,” Husband said. “Will Godot ever come?”

We did eventually find a cherry orchard (I think it’s the one my father had wanted to take us to, although I’m not sure). “Not sweet,” my father complained, tasting the fruit. “Don’t pick any fruit until you’ve made sure it’s sweet. Then pick everything from that tree.”

My girls didn’t seem to care about the quality of the fruit, happily eating whatever cherries they could reach. My father wandered further and further into the orchard, searching for the mythical Sweetest Tree Of All. He found some wooden ladders, and began directing my husband to prop them against specific trees and specific branches of trees, pointing to clusters that he should pick. Then Bean-girl started rubbing her eyes and complaining about being tired. I looked and saw that her left eye had swollen half shut.

I pointed this out to my husband, then scooped the tired Bean-girl up and carried her back to our car to rest. After a while, Husband came back to us, carrying Baby Legume. “I think she swallowed a cherry pit,” Husband said of the baby. Baby looked perfectly happy, if a bit vampirish with red juice smeared on her face. “I hope she doesn’t get a bowel obstruction,” Husband added (this is the kind of comment you hear when you’re married to a pediatrician).

“This,” Husband declared, sitting next to me in his seat, “has been a bust.”

“It’s not that bad,” I protested. “We got to be out in fresh air. It was fun until Bean-girl’s eye got swollen.”

Husband went to tell my father that we were taking the kids home. My father stayed in the orchard by himself for a long time, patiently and meticulously filling up two large buckets (10 pounds!) with yellow and red cherries that he complained were not sweet. We gave Bean-girl a bath in Grandma’s house to wash away whatever allergen (Tree fuzz? Sunscreen?) had gotten into her eye. She felt better after that.

Dinner outside on the back patio, and a dip in the pool. My parents insisted on both children swimming. I splashed Baby Legume in the water; she smiled, but her jaw trembled with cold, and I took her out. “It’s NOT cold!” my father kept insisting, even as the baby’s mouth trembled pathetically.

At one point, Bean-girl was left in the pool with Grandpa while Husband and I went into the house. When I came out, Bean-girl was wrapped in a towel on a chair, crying hysterically. “She flipped over her inner tube,” my parents explained. She’d been holding onto the side of her inner tube, and it flipped over and got away from her. She was still wearing her arm flotation devices, so she didn’t sink into the water. And Grandpa was right there with her. But she got very scared.

Finally, after more food (springs rolls, barbecue, ice cream) and packing, the Bean family got away. We drove the miles back through gently fading light and the pastoral landscape. I asked Bean-girl about her scare in the water. “You were crying and in a towel when I saw you,” I said.

“I was crying,” she said, “because I didn’t know I was back on land. I thought I was still floating in the water.” She seemed to digest this, said again, “I didn’t know I was already on land.”

Then she added seriously, “Mommy, I have to tell you something.”

“Okay, Bean-girl, what is it?”

Intently—“I don’t ever want to go back into the pool with Grandpa again.”


But she also kept asking, that night, “Can we go back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house another day? When can we go back? How soon?”

And that is a typical day with the Bean grandparents. The End.


CAE said...

Sounds like fun. And very very tiring for the parents...

ScientistMother said...

the joys of grandparents :)

EcoGeoFemme said...

You make it sound like such a hoot!

Mad Hatter said...

I feel as though I’m watching human evolution occur before my eyes—the hominid creature progresses to bipedalism, and with that gains the enormous advantage (so anthropologists have said) of being able to transport random plastic blocks and toys in both hands across the room!

That is so funny! The fruit-picking sounds like fun. I remember my grandma taking me and all my cousins strawberry picking when we were kids. One of my cousins decided the unripe ones were prettier and insisted on picking an entire basket full of them. The best part was when he insisted on eating a bunch of them because he was too proud to admit that everyone was right when they told him they wouldn't taste good!

ScienceGirl said...

That does sound eventful! The Bean-girl's serious comments, Baby Legume's walking adventures - never a dull moment :)