Hopes and dreams and cheese

Peanut’s list, at three years and two months, of things he would like to be when he’s big, has not changed a whit since three years and one month. So I think this is really it. I’m looking into colleges. And since he wanted some that need college and some that don’t, and he unwittingly stumbled upon the perfectly balanced list (in his order, verbatim, except for the lack of k/g and r sounds):

Fire fighter
Worker Who Drives Big Trucks
Police Officer
Tea Maker (“at one hotel because people don’t have their teapots with them at hotel”)
Cheese Maker

I told him I would totally come visit every day at work if he were a cheese maker. And I would.¬† I also think that’s the best freaking job I’ve ever heard, and one of only six I haven’t tried.

Yet. ‘Cuz he needs to apprentice in the family cheesemaking business before going to some Continental cheese college on scholarship, right? Right. Gotta go get a sheep, goat, and cow. And we have to move to Pt. Reyes to learn from the Cowgirl Creamery folks.

Does Cowgirl Creamery offer an internship  for three year olds? Is there a cheesemaking  magnet school nearby? Formaggio Kitchen scholarship? CheeseBoard preschool?

Fire fighters in bite-sized, 100-calorie packs

Have you seen the Chronicle Books imprint’s book Porn for New Moms? Hilarious. Pictures of men tending a baby while vacuuming, cooking dinner while cooing at an infant, and so on. Fully clothed (mostly, except the shot that offers to rub your feet while you talk about baby’s day), and only erotic in that “actually address a woman’s needs instead of your own” kind of way.


Well, I thought of it today after my son completely squelched my mojo.

Peanut and I went to the library, heaven of all heavens for both of us, and walked downtown to lunch. On our way, we stopped to watch five fire trucks pull up, disgorge their tasty wares, and sit empty in the street, flashing their red lights. Peanut watched, with rapt attention, and refused to let me leave. He likes empty fire trucks. I prefer the juicy center.

And it’s lunchtime. I’m hungry. I want to leave. I tolerate. I educate. See the oxygen tanks? The fire fighters put that on because people breathe air, like all mammals breathe air. They always need air. But if there’s a lot of smoke, they can’t breathe air. So they carry their air on their backs and breathe it through masks. [P: No masks.] Not like Halloween, babe. Like scuba. [P: No masks.] Do you mean they’re not wearing masks, or you don’t like masks? [P: No wearing masks and Peanut no like masks.] Way to clarify. If I had said, firefighters don’t make masks? He would have said yes to that, too. All I know from this week are the following inviolable rules: No masks. No helmets. No Mommy do that. No. And my favorite, No share.

So his focus on the trucks pays off in spades. (In uniformed goodness, really, but the expression is “in spades.” I would vote for a change to “that decision paid off in mouthwatering firefighting flesh,” but I don’t know that it’s up for a vote.) Fire fighters exit building, several of them with axes, and I talk to Peanut about about axes. The glory that is a mid-day, wakeful fire fighting team begins disrobing, and I tell Peanut about the special jackets and pants fire fighters wear (the appeal of suspenders is totally lost on him, and I’m considering whether to let the benefit of my wisdom open up to him a whole ‘nother world of para-nudity, a place of easy groinal access in which he would personally love to dwell in perpetuity).

What is it with firefighting?–is there a sex appeal requirement? Just to apply or in the final cut? Male and female alike, these professionals rank high on HQ (hotness quotient). What is it about the T-shirt and uniform pants that makes me totally abandon my feminist principle that humans are not just bodies—they have thoughts and feelings and are worth more than the sum of their parts—and today’s nameless, faceless specimens are no exception, I’m sure. I believe they have lots of impressive humanity under those muscles. And insignia. And suspenders. ‘Scuse me for a minute.

Okay, I’m back. So they’re all in various stages of undress (not really, if you’ve read our fire fighting book even once [we’re at two thousand times, ordered to do read and reread by a rather controlling repetition freak] you know that fire fighters put their heavy jacket and pants over their uniforms so they can shed the gear easily. Mmmm. Shedding gear easily.)

In various stages of undress, the gentlemen swoop in and out of their trucks (can’t you at least clamber, so I can see you as awkward and not too horizontally promising?), and the HOTTEST of all the county (youngest, too…yummy) sees us talking and beckons me over. (Not us. Me. Forget, for a moment, the sling and the toddler strapped to me. Believe me, this guy asked for me personally. How do I know? Please. What firefighter is a sucker for kids? Just because they drive around waving to every kid in sight, and do charity work with kids, and have all manner of openhousedness at all times for any child in sight doesn’t mean this guy was offering to show my son the truck. He was b-e-c-k-o-n-i-n-g- me. ME. You don’t have to believe me. Whatever.)

So we saunter over, my son and I, one of us carefully sucking in the sling belly that, without fail, pooches out below the sling’s bottom rail. On normal days, my borderline posture means I stick my hip and belly out to keep a two-dozen-pounder from knocking me over. But this is no normal day. Five trucks. At least four fire-extinguishing engineers per truck. You do the math for me—I’m still a bit flustered. So I suck it in. How repulsively self-eroding. And yet effective.

As we approach Officer Perfect, Peanut buries his face in my shoulder. The well-compensated and tremendously fit public servant backs off a bit. “If he’s shy, I don’t want to get too close.”

I’m sorry, sir, but did you just offer, without asking, to interact with a fire-truck loving toddler AND notice his hesitancy AND respect his age-appropriate fears? How quickly can you get that gear off? Never mind. I’ll do it. I’ve been practicing my buttons and snaps.

So Peanut begs me, more shy than I’ve ever seen him (which is saying something), to leave. [He’s hit a major shyness phase that goes beyond his standoffish wait-and-see-before-going-full-bore-goofy personality. It’s puzzling but fine with me. Afraid of strangers? Cultivate that.]

But really, are you kidding me? I want to eat, you want to stay. Then I want to stay—in the name of all that is holy, I want to stay—and you want to go.

I mentioned earlier my pre-child fears of having to sublimate my needs for my child’s welfare. And I’ve mentioned a firm decision to sacrifice sleep, career, sanity, and personal needs at many levels for his well being. But would it be wrong to let my toddler run, crying and hungry, to the store himself while I indulge in a moment of purely self-serving flirting? What if I promise it’ll boost my self esteem? What if I PROMISE it’ll make me nicer to Spouse? What if I say three Hail Marys and one Our Father? Bahaha ha ha ha. Let’s be serious. Okay, just the first two promises?

So as we walked, him thrilled to have escaped gentlemen of his favorite profession of the week, and me, dejected, feeling a bit wilted and chilly under the collar, I thought of the Porn for New Moms.

No fire fighters in that book.


Fire alarm

Ah, Peanut. I’m glad we named you something that would go well with either “Supreme Court Justice…” or “Recently Indicted…” because you’re getting to be a bit of a handful.

I was carrying him up the stairs to my mom’s place and he pointed and asked what the fire alarm was. I said, “That’s a no touch. It is for when you really need help, like an emergency, and it rings an alarm at the fire fighter’s stationhouse.” So he reached out and grabbed it. To be fair, it didn’t have a cover, and the little lucite dowel that usually keeps us from accidentally tripping the alarm was missing. Nevertheless, the alarm went off in eight or more condos Sunday just before noon. Thanks, Peanut. Nice way to meet grandma’s neighbors.

People were worried, but we were standing on the porch, reassuring everyone it was a false alarm, and very willingly blaming Peanut. “He did it. We told him not to, but he didn’t listen. We’re so sorry.” Everyone was, I’m sure, just waking up at noon to watch the Olympics and sit in their underwear spooning ice cream into their gaping maws (I assume people, given a day off, are able to do all the things we can’t do now that Peanut is here. Sleep in? Check. Watch t.v.? Check. Eat ice cream? Check. Hang out in either jammies or underwear, willfully defying the social rule that one must dress for the day? Check. Things we have to do under the cover of darkness for the one hour he actually sleeps–that’s what people with real lives do. Nobody else was off volunteering at an animal shelter, or befriending the elderly, or anything. That’s what I’d do if I had a day off. After the ice cream and Olympics and nap. And a little more ice cream. And flip through the channels in case I’m missing anything. THEN volunteering.)

Anyway, it took the fire department 25 minutes, so say the more irritated of Zsa Zsa’s neighbors say, to arrive with their shiny pumper truck. Peanut asked the fire fighter (whom I’ll call Young, Buff, and Gorgeous Number Three, only because there were two before him that got that name. I might have named them something else, had I seen YBaGNThree first). YBaGNThree confirmed that it was a pumper, not a hose wagon, as was Peanut’s second guess. Seriously. Okay, a little more honestly, Peanut asked me if it was a pumper or a hose wagon, and instructed me to ask YBaGNTwo. I was going to, when Three appeared and caught my eye. Instead of asking him if he knew a good attorney and would be willing to wait for me while the divorce paperwork processed, I asked about the truck. Whatever. Can’t believe I know the difference between a rear-mount aerial ladder truck and a snorkel truck, anyway. I mean, it’s pretty obvious, and nobody would confuse the two once they knew, but still. I’m pretty sure that cluster of neurons would be resting right now if it weren’t for my two-year-old’s g..d.. book collection.

So I kept apologizing to the fire fighters, telling them I knew they had better things to attend to, like, for instance, emergencies; and tried not to cry every time they said it was okay. Because the last three times I’ve seen a fire fighter up close, it was an emergency, and they were much less jovial and much less silly, but just as friendly and supportive. I know more than a few police officers who have no special love for fire fighters. I know the reasons abound. But I have had nothing but good experiences with the few fire fighters I’ve met, and I have nothing but gratitude in my tiny little Grinch heart for them.

Anyway, the Older, Buff, and Outrageously Handsome fire fighter (OBOH) praised Peanut for doing a good job. Told him he knew he’d hire him on the spot in 18 years. Gave him a red plastic fire fighter’s helmet, and told him to keep up the good work. Wonderfully nice, totally counter-productive stuff, parenting-wise.

Now we have to pay for the false alarm call, and frequently remind Peanut not to pull fire alarms, all while watching him run through the house naked, fire helmet on, pretending to squirt everything and everyone with anything that seems like a hose. Yes, that means anything—-drum stick, hockey stick, imaginary hose, and little boy parts. The reality that little boys get to have all the fun of a built-in friend is probably half the battle of gender-based differences that show up before those horrible other kids bring their parents’ baggage to kindergarten.

Oh well. At least ours can rouse all those lounging neighbors whenever he feels like it.