Sunday, April 8, 2007

Showers, Injustice, and the Question I Really Didn't Want an Answer To

Yesterday some of my friends threw me a baby shower, since Child #4 happens to be Girl #1. I wonder how I'm going to abbreviate that, I can't just say #1 because we already have a #1, and saying #4 misses the uniqueness of the girl factor. We'll have to see. Anyhow, it was nice, the shower. I was in a particularly foul mood because not only was I tired from staying up too late but I also had to get up early with the kids while DH slept in. (No, this isn't the injustice section, although I certainly thought so.) So because of the bad mood, it was better for the family for me to leave for a little while and eat some desserts and talk to my friends.

(As an aside, DH was trying to cheer me up and said, "Aren't you excited to get a shower today?" I said, "Yes, I didn't get one at all yesterday, and the day before it was 2:00 before I showered!" He says, "No, I meant the baby shower..." "Oh, yeah, I'm excited about that too." Aside over.)

Boy, you'd think there was no other color in the world than pink! It was so fun to have a reason to own all of this pink, frilly, flowery stuff. It only made me regret (once again) that I still have 9 weeks until I can dress anyone in these clothes. Especially since none of it would fit the boys. Someone gave me a little beaded elastic bracelet, I swear, one inch in diameter. It's the cutest little pink thing you've ever seen! DH says that he likes the sole purple outfit best, because the color wasn't quite as threatening as the pink. Coming from a house that has only seen primary colors, I suppose I can understand that! Besides, I'm partial to purple myself.

My favorite part was not the gift opening, as surprising as that is. I love gifts, but when people are there, looking at you, and you've got to have the appropriate reaction and admiration for the gift, it's a little too much pressure. Especially after the sixth pink blanket, which granted is still cute, but it's hard to be original with praise at that point. No, my favorite part was the desserts. My friend knows some french bakery on State St. that makes some really great stuff. We had some "cigars" which were largish pastries filled with chocolate mousse, yum, and a lemon-strawberry charlotte, which was like a cake with lots of lemon filling. I was fortunate enough to take home some leftovers, and the lemon flavor just got stronger and better. And the strawberries! The black raspberry-chocolate charlotte was more disappointing, but I was fine with the lemon anyhow. My friend knows me! :)

We also played the obligatory baby shower game, although this was a unique one, as a relative of a friend had actually invented this game and is trying to sell it. It's called Uteranium, which is a combination of Cranium and Uterus, a game where you act, draw, or sculpt a pregnancy-related term and make your team guess the word. It was fun, but only because we all know each other really well - this game would have been massively uncomfortable with, say, older relatives there, or really anyone you aren't totally comfortable with. Some of the words, for example, were: hemorrhoids, urinalysis, circumcision, and nipple confusion. Some were more benign, like triple stroller and pregnancy test, but still. It's the kind of game that would be more fun really late at night, when your inhibitions are lowered, or after a few drinks if we were drinking kind of people. Like karaoke.


Out here in Utah County, the big thing is community Easter Egg Hunts. Each community sponsors one, and lots of businesses do their own too. People that go to these would try to schedule out which ones they will hit so as to squeeze as much free candy out of the county as possible. As a rule, I avoid things like this. It is the type of event that brings out the worst in people, especially parents, as they forget how it's supposed to be "fun" and instead turns into some kind of competition to see how much loot your 1 year old can haul in. When they have to warn people to be nice before the event starts, you know it's bad news. Additionally, I dislike being around so many people crammed into a small space (even when it's a football field) - even a dollar bill hunt wouldn't get me to go to one of these generally.

That being said, our family ended up at a community Easter Egg Hunt yesterday. We actually went to this one last year, also - it was sponsored by the Orem Owlz, our local minor league baseball team. Last year was their first year doing it, it was a little rainy, probably not well publicized, and done in the morning when there was competition from all the other hunts. So we showed up, played the carnival games, collected prizes, waited in no lines, and had a great time during the egg hunt. This year, other than the "showing up" part, it was exactly opposite.

The main problem, as I saw it, was that it was held at night, the only one in the whole valley that I know of that wasn't in the morning. So there was nothing holding back the hordes of insane freeloaders, the type to run over your grandmother at Wal-Mart at 4:30 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving in order to get a new 13" tv for $79. And I think Utah County has more than it's fair share of these types of people. Why, you may ask, don't you consider yourself one of them? You were there too, after all. Yes, that's true, we did go, and we were aiming to bring home some loot, but the difference is that we're fans. We like the Orem Owlz and go to lots of poorly attended functions of theirs to show our support. For many people, that was their first, and probably last, visit to their stadium.

Anyhow, we had the approximate population of Finland at the Orem Owlz stadium yesterday. We waited in line to enter behind about 200+ people (that's no exaggeration) and found the place just crawling with people. Tickets to the event were free if you picked them up in advance, or $1 each at the door, but most of the people that we saw had tickets. So it should have been no surprise to the event organizers how many people were going to attend. There were 12 "carnival" games set up around the stadium, things like see how fast you can throw a baseball (34 mph for Boy #1), throw a ball into a certain goal, bobbing for easter eggs, face painting, something with golfing, etc. And of course, the lines for these things were atrocious. Boy #1 wanted to do the radar gun baseball throw, so I went to stand in line for him, but after like 10 minutes DH came back from scouting out the rest of the place and we decided to forget the activities, do the egg hunt, and get the heck out of there. DH hates crowds as much as I do, maybe more.

So, to make a long story short (which I am generally not able to do) I will skip all of the excruciating details, such as the massive crush of people to get onto the field through the 3 foot wide gate, making me honestly fear a trampling. Here are the things that really bugged me:

1. The first group to hunt in their roped-off area were the 2-5 year olds, probably the most well-represented age group. And of course there were 1 year olds and probably 0 year olds in that group as well. The guy in charge announced that parents were not supposed to go with our children into the hunt area. Huh? I'm really going to let my 2 year old get lost in this crowd? I'm never going to see him again, and I'm pretty fond of this kid! So I, along with most parents, ignored that. I had no problem following that rule with the older kids, but for safety reasons, I could not fathom letting #3 go in that mob by himself. I'm sure it was a crowd control issue, but still. Be reasonable.

2. All of the age groups were given a 3- egg per person limit. Wow, way to sock it to the freeloaders, right? There were just so many kids there, clearly more than they had planned for, it wouldn't have been fair to let the kids just go at it and take whatever they want.

Or would it? The results of the 3-egg rule for our kids:

Boy #1 - Totally miffed at the stupidity of the rule. He could tell that this was a waste of time, and wouldn't have bothered if it was just for 3 eggs.
Boy #2 - Cried. Actual tears, not just a whiny tantrum.
Boy #3 - Ended up with only one egg, until a girl from our ward who had 4 eggs in her basket was told to give him one by her mom. He, who was short-changed the most, was also the least upset.

The result of the 3-egg rule for many other kids: A bag full of eggs, because they took advantage of the law-abiding hunters and grabbed as many as they could. I have no doubt that the older two boys would have ended up with many more eggs, but did not because we were following the rules. i was actually really proud of them, because they didn't have a parent standing next to them telling them to stop, they were obedient on their own and stopped at 3. Every kid I saw with a bag full of eggs, I wanted to kick. I was so ticked off at those kids. But, at the same time, I was ticked off with the people who made the dumb rule in the first place. With #3's age group, I can understand that the 5 year olds can totally kick the average 2 year old's butt. But for the other two, they could have either gotten a lot more, or not, but it would have been every kid for himself, and I really think even Boy #2 would have been mostly okay with that. #1 wouldn't have had a problem at all. Then the complaint would have been that there weren't enough eggs, or there were too many people, but instead their gripe was with following a rule that so many people flaunted.

There were other technical issues with the whole event, poor communication being the biggest one, but DH has some sympathy for the Owlz staff. They are a fairly new organization, I think this is their 3rd season, so they are basically feeling their way through a lot of things. They blow things big time occasionally, like the free shirt giveaway on Pioneer Day (a state holiday, and Boy #1's birthday) where the "rule" was the shirts were for children under 12, but they were giving them away to anyone, and we got there like 45 minutes early, waited in line forever to get in, and they had already run out of shirts like 100 kids in front of us. We saw people using their $2 grass-seating tickets to get the shirts and then leaving. (We ended up getting 2 shirts because we have season tickets, and they save promotional items for season ticket holders as a perk.) Anyhow, they do stuff wrong, and then hopefully learn from it, and do it better next time. He compares that to our little company, where we try things out and see if they work, and do it again if it does or not if it was a disaster. So he is sympathetic.

Me? I see his point, but I also have no intention of going to their hunt next year if it is in the evening. As for the kids, they survived their unhappy hunt experience, and the best part of the night for them was rolling down the hill in the grass seating area. And if I see any of those kids who had bags full of eggs, I just might kick them after all.

The Question I Didn't Want to Know the Answer To

So today I was sitting in the dining room while DH and #1 were in the kitchen. DH made up a true/false question for #1, who seemed to think we had turned the family into a quiz show and asked for some more questions. I figured that there's always a teaching moment available, so I started making up questions like "What would you do if you were at a friend's house and he wanted you to watch a movie you knew you weren't supposed to?" "What if you were at a party and..." and so on. I brought up the question I ask about every 6 months, because it scares me so much: "What would you do if you were at a friend's house and he showed you his dad's gun?" He gave the appropriate answer, which is run as fast as you can and find an adult, don't try to take it away from the kid, just get the heck out of there. I've been telling this since he was old enough to understand, maybe age 4 or so. Boy #2 also has had the training. Then #1 said the sentence that made my heart stop:

"So-and-so's dad and brother have guns. They keep them under their beds."

DH and I look at each other while we try to keep our eyeballs in our heads, and I say, really nonchalantly, "Oh, really? How did you find out about that?" Apparently So-and-so's younger brother came into the room, pointing it at them. (keep breathing, keep breathing!) "Oh? And what did you do?" Well, he told him to put the gun down, and then So-and-so went and told his dad. "So how long ago did this happen?" A long time, maybe a year or so.

Holy crap, how many times have I had this discussion with them? Literally, a week ago at Albertson's I talked to Boy #2 about it! This is not the kind of thing that I've never mentioned and so shouldn't be surprised when they do the thing that they didn't know was wrong. So as Dh and I try not to completely hyperventilate, we let #1 out to play in the backyard.

Why didn't he tell us when it happened? Because, in that grand pantheon that is 8-year-old logic, he knows that if he tells me, he won't be allowed to play with his friend anymore. Well, darn right he won't play with that friend anymore! Because the grand pantheon of 8-year-old logic doesn't include the equation that being shot is worse than having to play at my house. Nobody told me that being a parent would be this hard.

We bring all the kids inside to dye Easter eggs. (Note to anyone who cares: Egg dye stains! But you can get it off your hands with Windex.) As we sit around the table, I oh-so-casually ask #2 if he knew that that family had guns in their house. "Oh, sure, So-and-so's brother pointed it at us once." Okay, I'm trying to keep it together here, I dig some more and find out that #2 was there at the same time as #1, so this is one incident, not two. I asked him the same question, "What did you do when you saw the gun? Did you run and find an adult?" "No, he went and took it to his dad." At this point I'm about to jump into a lecture but DH is standing there with a video camera to try to capture our Easter memories for posterity and asks me to sit tight for a minute. He records, our lucky-to-be-alive children dye their eggs, and I sit. The lecture comes, but it's nothing they haven't heard before. We try to scare them a little, but neither are too easily intimidated by that subject, after all, they saw a gun up close, and lived to tell the tale.

So, parents, be careful what you ask. Ask, of course - it's always better to know. But be prepared for that answer you really didn't want to hear.

1 comment:

Tim said...

oh my, nuts! Did you make sure to them that it is appropriate to carry guns on their person if all the other children have taken their Easter Eggs? I think that would count as "playful" self-defense.