Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Children are Feral

Papa did make it back from Mexico on Mother's Day. The day was totally lost, but he did make it back with presents, even. He gave Aleks every kind of Mexican coin, which Aleks added to his money jar. For days afterwards, he would take everything out and try to count it, confused about how much pesos were worth in dollars, thinking they could be used interchangeably to purchase things. Papa also brought the boys Zapatista dolls (interesting article about some Zapatista dolls here) . They look like this, guns and all. When Bastian and I were playing with them, he wanted me to do the whole voice thing like Grandma did with the piggy, so I had it talk to him like he was a giant and I used the gun as a tickle stick, so now they're tickle sticks, which I doubt will stick. Bastian pew-pewed with them immediately anyway. On Friday, amidst lots of errand running for several of the things that I am involved in going on over the weekend (Co-op Member Appreciation Day, Hessler Street Fair, Birth art show...), I decided the kids needed to get out of the house. After Papa got back, it continued to be cold and I was again busy as hell, so the kids were inside a lot, being transferred from me during the day to Papa at night.

I took us to the Botanical Gardens (which Aleks insisted on calling Kinder Gardens) and decided to buy a membership since the Children's garden is so nice during the summer months. It pays itself off in less than 4 visits, so I figure it's worth it since admission is usually 7 bucks for adults. I have some grandiose ideas about supplementing our City Fresh CSA participation with children's garden visits and talking about growing things and local foods and life-cycle whatnot. We'll see how that pans out...

The botanical gardens were of course lovely as always, and the sun was out and it was kind of warm with jackets on. Unfortunately, my boys are feral. Earlier in our errand running, they ran around the theater where the art show was to be held and pressed buttons on the light board and generally cause trouble while I tried to have a very brief conversation with the organizer about the pieces I was dropping off. I naively thought that being outdoors would be okay, but instead they both ran off in the lobby and pressed the alarm on the elevator while i tried to buy our membership. I had to hold Bastian between my legs while I signed the credit card slip and I found Aleks perusing the gift shop. People in line behind me were laughing, but I felt nearly out of control myself.

We made our way to the Rainforest greenhouse, where it was just time for the daily butterfly release. I didn't see anyone actually releasing butterflies, so I'm not sure how that goes or if we just missed it, but there were more than I'd ever seen in previous visits.
It was so hot inside and so humid, the lens got all fogged up as soon as we ascended the stairs to the upper canopy.
Due to general running amok and not-listening, I guided the boys outdoors to the Children's Garden. Aleks made a beeline for the pond to check out the coy who all swam away at the sight of his gargantuan humanness.
The place in general is really quite nice. Parts of it resemble a hobbit village or something. It's quite fairy-tale-esque and quaint, as though we'd stepped right into Mr. McGregor's garden.
We always visit the tree house first, which overlooks the wetland/coy pond. Bastian ran upstairs, then back down again.Then he rode a giant frog only abandoning it to nearly fall in the stream which flows under the tree house into the pond.
Here's where more feralness comes in. I believe that kids are "permitted" to climb part of the wall of giant stones under the tree house where the railing from the path above ends and the rocks jut out enough to make something resembling steps. I am almost certain, however, that the staff would flip out if they saw children climbing this section of the wall, which, though still not inherently dangerous, per se, is what I perceive would be immediately labeled a liability. In fact, I said as much to Aleks, but I don't think he knows the word "liability" yet and I've no idea how to explain it to him (nor has he the patience to listen anyway).
I rounded both boys up to head off for the rest of the garden to get them away from the wall and the possibility of soaking themselves through in the pond. They sought out watering cans and sand toys in the tool shed.
Then I helped them pump water into the cans to water the plants.
Aleks also tried to fill his watering can in the fountain near the entrance to the Children's Garden. He managed to not get wet, even, making him, for a moment, slightly less maniacal in my eyes. They water radishes, which look suspiciously large for this time of year and the freaking cold weather we've been having...
I noticed this string lattice applied to the side of the tool shed. It seems like such a good idea for growing beans or morning glories.
There's a whole junk garden near the compost bins where trash goes to excellent new uses...

Bastian stripped off his socks and shoes...
To dig in the sand. I thought it was far too chilly for that, myself.
The children's herb garden is particularly attractive to me. There's this little stone bench in the back and a path of stones which winds through several varieties of mint, lavender, basil, rosemary, and all the kitchen herbs one could want... Scattered throughout the garden, there are actually lots of little seats like this, which is precious to encounter, if not exactly something I imagine gets much use, what with feral children like mind who run from attraction to attraction, digging things up and stomping on the pansies.
I rounded the boys back out of the children's garden because they wouldn't stay together and they clearly needed to run. I suppose I must have overestimated the need to run because in the theme gardens, Bastian wanted to play in this fountain and Aleks kept pretending to sleep on the paths.
Bastian joined him for a pretend snooze on a bench in the deciduous forest.

After the children's garden, we headed to the Food Co-op so I could do some work for the upcoming Member Appreciation Day and also to pick up groceries. I asked the boys to help stay together, but having them in the office by myself while running off a million copies proved to be more than they could handle. There was constant running around in circles, playing rough, running away, knocking stuff over, pushing buttons on the fax and copier, and other assorted shenanigans. I made suggestions that occupied them temporarily, but in truth my needs/responsibilities and the children's seem to collide in poor self-control and too much coercion. And yet, I can't seem to just stop what I need and go back to devoting all my time and effort to enriching their lives. Balance is what I am so lacking now...

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