Over here in Geneva, we’re still waiting on our air freight to arrive, so we’re living out of suitcases. One of the biggest problems with this (okay, actually there are a lot) is that X’s toys are all packed away. On the other side of the world. He has two books, which we can safely say he’s read enough. I have them memorized, so I know I’ve read them enough. Two little stuffed toys and his Winnie the Pooh round out his stuff. And here I am stuck with him in a small apartment all day! He is very creative and comes up with all kinds of great toys around the place, like hiding in the curtains, bouncing on the couch, and of course the mop is forever fascinating. But there’s only so much an apartment can do for you. And I don’t know how many times I have to say “don’t play in the bidet” before the message gets through. These are words a mother should never have to say. These are words nobody should ever have to say, really.
And so we spend most of our days outside. Our location here is fantastic, with one of the biggest parks in Geneva three blocks away. It is our destination most every day. I let him walk through the park, which is an hour and a half right there because he has to stop and poke his finger into every crack in the sidewalk and yell at every tree.
Then he plays in the playground with all the other kids. He’s moved on from standing in one place gaping at everything around him, to now stealing other kids’ toys. This has proven to be pretty embarrassing for me, because he looks like a thug and I look like the bad mother who doesn’t give her kids any toys. But one thing I’ve been noticing here (and I’m not saying it’s a Swiss thing, because I’m sure this is true all over) is how almost universally kind bigger kids are to little ones. One of X’s favourite things to do is play on the merry-go-round. I get a little worried when he climbs on when it’s full of kids five times his age, but instead of complaining or kicking him off, I saw a group of them help him up, get him settled in a seat then VERY SLOWLY turning the merry-go-round, reminding each other to go gently because there was a baby with them. It was my turn to stand and gape. Realizing I was completely useless at that point, I backed away and let things play out, totally stunned how careful children can be with each other.
And then X went and stole all their toys, so we still need to work on that. I am grateful that he will have such good role models to learn from. They all try talking to him as well, and he eagerly babbles back, but I’m hoping that seeing other little people speaking will get him going as well. I think his baby babble is starting to take on a French accent, so there’s hope. I’m also hoping I’ll learn a bit more French from the other moms at the park. I hadn’t realized how hopeless I am at conversational French – I told a mom her toddler was fat the other day, by accident. It was mildly embarrassing for both of us.
Speaking of fat babies, just today I watched a chunky toddler run by me in skinny jeans, and my first thought was “some babies just shouldn’t wear skinnies,” followed closely by “what the fuck is wrong with me?” But seriously, skinny jeans on toddlers is a weird thing that I just don’t get – it’s not comfortable, right? And one of the awesome things about being a toddler is that you get to wear comfortable pants that accommodate your pillowy soft diaper. So just no with the skinnies.
In an effort to ensure X isn’t the pauper at the playground, I went out and bought him a pail and two shovels for the sandbox. This has been working, except I realize I have to keep my eye out for other babies out to steal HIS toys too. This apparently is a thing with babies, they’re all sneaky thieves. X is much more interested in other people’s toys than his own, but at least I can exchange his toys now when I have to pry something that doesn’t belong to him out of his sticky toddler hand.
I went to the playground later yesterday, with the bizarre idea in my head that it would be less busy. Um, no, not only was it full of older kids out of school, but I discovered a new class of moms there – the chic set. During the day, the playground is full of kids being lead around by some moms, but mainly grandparents or nannies. People are dressed comfortably in jeans and flats. I was surprised and a little disappointed, having expected everyone in Europe to dress like fashionistas.
Now I know all the fashionistas come out later, because everyone at the park at five is dressed in towering heels, expensive tights and designer coats. Hardly practical for the playground, but I don’t think that’s the point. The point is to be seen in Parc Bertrand, and the children there are little more than Burberry-wearing props. Boy do I feel out of my league.
In the sandbox, X is much more interested in either eating sand (we’ve had a talk about this), or playing with the big boys. I swear he thinks he’s about ten. Yesterday a giant mountain of sand was delivered to the playground, and it was swarming with kids like ants over a hive.* At the top of the mountain were the “kings,” boys in grade school engaged in some serious rough-housing, like punching and pushing each other off. With decidedly no sense of self preservation, this is where X decides he has to be. He doggedly climbs up the mountain and sits himself in the middle of a wrestling match, grinning adoredly up at the fighters above him. I was the only mom who had to climb up the slippery slope (wearing what is definitely not designer wear, although my boots did better than any heel would have) and rescue a baby who had no interest in being rescued. Sigh. We’re learning together.
*This mountain of sand was put in with a crew of three men and a bobcat. When I went to the park today, it took me awhile to realize that the mountain of sand HAD MOVED. Total mindfuck. I have no idea how that happened.