This week’s post is a little late because we spent the long holiday weekend out at “The Farm,” which is a place out in the country that Geralyn’s family owns. I think I can call it “out in the country” because any time the directions to a place include the phrase “turn off the paved road” and you still have several intersections to describe, then you’ve earned that right. It’s the place things go to die, from an old TV to that 32 ounce Purple Passion drink squeeze thing you got from buying cheap booze when you were in college. We like it a great deal.
The place is, of course, also full of animals. We started off our first visit of the season by coming into the cabin and discovering a huge hole that had been chewed through the wall, leaving a gaping darkness ringed in teeth marks and piles of sawdust and insulation. And when I say “huge hole” I mean HUGE HOLE. You may be sitting there thinking “mice” but I was thinking “puma.” At the very least I imagined something with a long nose that would start to spin faster and faster like a whiskered drill bit as it ripped through the floorboards. I also kept expecting Sam get up from her next nap saying “I was playing with a kitty in my room!” and we’d have to rush her to the nearest hospital (which isn’t near at all) before she went rabid. But she didn’t, and in fact we enjoyed most of the weekend.
I say “most” because of one incident. Ger’s parents are sufficiently Catholic enough to realize that God doesn’t really care if it’s Memorial Day weekend, you’d better get yourself to church anyway. And so we went with them. We drove “into town,” which is actually a highway rest stop with a McDonald’s, an ice cream stand, and a small country church. It’s pretty quaint, like something you’d see in one of those Berenstein Bear books Sam likes so much, but it’s REALLY small and it’s REALLY quiet. And Sam chose that day to be particularly quarrelsome and noisy.
It’s kind of a tradition to get ice cream after church, so I told Sam that she could have whatever she wanted if she behaved, then quickly reverted to the inverse of this reward, which is the threat that she’ll get nothing if she doesn’t behave. She didn’t behave. At one point I had to take her out to the car, strap her into her seat, and lean against the hood while she yelled at me for ten minutes. Afterwords, though, it was pointed out that Geralyn had been good in church and that she, Geralyn, should get ice cream damn it.
When Sam came with us into the ice cream shop and was reminded that she would be getting nothing, she threw one of her admittedly rare fits. The old woman working behind the counter peered over at her and said something. I didn’t hear what she said, though, because I was too busy sucking on my root beer float and being fascinated by this woman’s puffy white head of hair, which looked like it should have been atop a gigantic dandelion instead of a shriveled old lady head.
“What?” I said.
“Is she not feeling well?” repeated Dandelion Head.
“Oh,” I said, shrugging my shoulders a bit and taking a bite of vanilla ice cream dripping with root beer foam, “No. She’s just mad that she’s not getting any ice cream. She was being naughty.”
As soon as I said these words, I began to reconsider the need to share them with the denizens of this small country town. Geralyn shot me a piercing glare that suggested that she agreed.
She was probably right because as soon as I had offered my explanation, Dandelion Head rounded on me with ferocity in her milky eyes. “WHAT?” She slapped her hand on the counter in a way that made her foamy crown of hair wobble alarmingly. “THAT’S NOT RIGHT!”
I looked at her trying to figure out if she was playing along perhaps exaggerating things for the benefit of what she assumed was a particularly dense toddler. I quickly decided that no, in fact she was about to vault over the counter and kick my ass. These country people are tough. I pushed Sam, who had stopped her crying to stare at the ice cream lady in her signature mixture of alarm and confusion, towards the door. We made it out and finished our treats out in the relative safety of the minivan. And yes, Sam got a few bites.
So while Sam is just usually charming, Mandy had Gerayn’s whole family eating out of her hand. Seriously, she was running the place within a day with everyone fawning over her and noting how charming she was and what a good baby she was (all true, by the way). Mandy played her part, cooing and smiling on queue, and generally being the nicest person –baby or otherwise– that anyone had ever met. All this despite her new fascination with blowing big, messy raspberries for hours on end.
Other neat stuff about Mandy is that she’s really getting the hang of grabbing things and manipulating them, which isn’t surprising given that it’s a skill her sister always excelled at, too. She’s not sitting up or even rolling over too often, but I think she’s getting there. She’s way more alert and socially active than she was even a week or two ago.
The only weird thing I’ve noticed about her is that she’s got a kind of receding hairline. Only it’s not really starting from her brow. It’s starting in the back, at the base of her neck, and working its way forward. It’s really odd, but my suggestions that we just shave her and be done with it have so far been met with much resistance.