We have been remarkably fortunate, J and I. Zachary, at three-and-a-half, is just now giving up his afternoon nap. We have retained this last perk of babyhood much longer than so many other parents who we know. But now, about half the time, he forgoes his afternoon nap to play quietly with his toys (while his brother and I are completely conked out, of course.) On the days he does not nap, he turns into a pumpkin round about 5:00 PM. With almost three hours left till bedtime, we find ourselves trying to detour his tantrums and ignore his whines, usually to only minimal effect.
So it was, on Sunday, that he began to get irrational (even for a three-and-a-half-year-old) during our trip to the mall. We had planned on grabbing some pizza in a nearby neighborhood (where we hope to be moving soon), and it was only the threat of going home instead that kept the whine-o-meter registering at a barely acceptable four. But, when the restaurant manager came over after the meal to inform us that they no longer carried the dessert he had ordered (why the hell was it still on the menu?), the shit was dangerously close to the fan.
Only the promise of finding an ice cream place kept the seams together. We quickly drove up to the local frozen yogurt shop, a place we have been informed we will patronize regularly once we move into the neighborhood. When I tried to tell him the options on the menu, his exhaustion overwhelmed him. “You choose for me, Mommy.” At the last moment he rallied, choosing vanilla with chocolate sprinkles.
We sat at a table, and the line snaked past us, people smiling as they watched Benjamin ignore his frozen yogurt in favor of the blueberries on the top and Zachary ignore his frozen yogurt in favor of the chocolate sauce on ours. Only near the end, when Zach had gotten down and was exploring the gumball machines, did Benjamin begin a foray into chocolate sprinkles. J went over to explain a little game machine to Zachary, while Benjamin sat with a spoon in each hand, alternately sampling his own topping and his brother’s.
Suddenly, Zach began to wail. J brought him back, tears streaming down his little face. His father had cruelly informed him that he could not, in fact, play the “game” that was really a gumball machine in disguise. It was over. We had gone into battle, and the exhaustion had won. J took the sobbing child outside while Benjamin continued his adventures in ice cream toppings.
Finally, aware that the chocolate sprinkle/blueberry escapade could take another hour or so, I simply declared the session over and made a feeble attempt at wiping down our table. We walked outside; J, seeing us coming, went to put a shrieking Zachary into the car. Benjamin, meanwhile, had the drunken toddler walk of a twenty-one-month-old who has just had a close encounter with a frozen dessert. His face was smeared with frozen yogurt, and he smiled at the universe that created the double wonders of chocolate sprinkles and blueberries as he giggled and walked towards the car.
Walking towards us was a disconcertingly handsome man, but that was not what I noticed first about him. Like any mother, I noticed first the smothered smile he wore upon seeing Benjamin in his clearly euphoric state. And, as we turned to get into the car, Zachary’s wails clearly audible from the other side of the car, I smiled back at him. “The two boys left the ice cream shop in slightly different moods.”
He smiled a bit and kept walking. And, I know my husband will forgive me when I tell you that it was hard not to notice that, in real life, Jason Bateman is even hotter than he is on television.
I have decided that watching Jason Bateman walk away is definitely one of the selling points for living in L.A.