Projects in Progress: Two Moms, There is No Such Thing As Fiction, And the Summer Was Over

Shine On! (An excerpt from Two Moms)


It’s been a slow couple days without Ambyr. Who knew the same thing that made me roll my eyes all those years ago would be the thing that makes me miss her the most? She is away at a military conference, and like every time she goes away, I have packed our (mine and Levi’s) schedule with fun activities that keep Levi distracted enough to not realize he has been stuck with me all day. Yesterday, we went to a playground in Highland Park that used to be a gas station. There are huge musical instruments, slides, beautiful, brightly colored tables that spin, and a small spot with workout machines where parents can get buff while their kids get filthy.

The best part of the whole deal is the coffee shop across the street, Cafe de Leche. I always order the horchata con cafe. I am a horchata fanatic, so the very first time I walked in and saw that on the menu, I was sold. They’ve also got an assortment of fresh bagels, muffins, and cookies. I stayed away for a while, because the barista burned my bagel one day, but when I decided to take Levi to the playground today, it only made sense to get coffee too. I am proud of myself for not getting a cookie. I am intermittent fasting, and I think it might be working.

We ran around at the playground for a bit, him playing the gigantic xylophone and me smiling into my coffee cup. It was a perfect morning. Once I started to sweat, and other parents began sidling up to me, we got in the car and transitioned to The Awesome Playground. It is one of my favorite places to take Levi. There are lots of stimulating toys and playsets for him to engage with. His favorite is the tree house and the kitchenette. Mellisa and Doug make very realistic play food. Everytime I see him take a potato or corn into the kitchenette and put it in the oven, I am glad to know that one day, he won’t be making some woman’s life a living hell because he doesn’t know his way around the kitchen. Additionally, there are about 7-12 children there at all times from diverse backgrounds. Since he is out of school right now, it is cool that he still gets to socialize (hear that, hardline preschool proponents?).

We spent a little over an hour there, going round and around the track and making new friends, ending our trip with snacks, juice and a cyclical conversation about naps and bedtime routines. One of the best things about being a parent is all the unsolicited anecdotes about children you don’t know. Although it can be a little too much for me sometimes, in a small way, I feel like it speaks to our connection as humans sharing in a common experience.

I got Levi home, cleaned his hands, removed his clothes, and put him down for a nap. I did some editing on a piece I am submitting for a contest, and unpacked the dishwasher. I always feel super accomplished when I do that for some reason. It is one of the household chores that I absolutely abhor. When Levi awoke a couple hours later, I went into his bathroom and made preparations to bathe him. When all the supplies were in place, I said,  “Come on Levi, let’s take a bath.” He came over to me, and I took his Pull Up off. Immediately, he began to laugh, and as I moved to discard the Pull Up, he took the opportunity to run away. He loves running around naked. I wouldn’t mind it if he wasn’t always peeing on the floor. I went after him at a much slower pace then he was going and by the time I rounded the corner to the dining room, where he was headed, I heard him scream out in pain. I dropped the Pull-Up and grabbed him off the floor. With tears streaming down his face, he threw his head back, allowing me to see the penny-sized bruise that had already formed under his right eye. I talked him through the pain and reminded him to take a breath. The shock of the impact had him doing that noiseless cry where it is hard to tell if they are taking in any air or not. Once he stopped screaming, I tried to figure out what to do. He was stable enough to stand in the tub, so I put him in there, and sat next to him on the side, watching to make sure he didn’t wobble, and to see if his face was going to change at all. It seemed like the little swollen part was as big as it was going to get. I made dinner like normal and put him to bed. When he woke up the next morning, and climbed on top of my chest to pull my eyelids open, I noticed that the bottom part of his eye was purple. My heart dropped. My child had a black eye. We were supposed to go to storytime at the library, but how could I do that when my kid had a shiner. I felt so bad for him for all the things we wouldn’t be able to do until his eye healed. Unfortunately, there are people alive who kill children, and despite the fact that I am his mother, walking around with a purple-eyed child might land me in the slammer.