The other day, I watched my son play with a Mylicon bottle for twenty minutes.
Do you know what Mylicon is? Well, if you haven’t been chasing after a two year old, and/or you haven’t stayed up all night with a newborn lately, you wouldn’t know what Mylicon is but I’m here to tell you. It’s gas medicine and it comes in a bottle with a dropper. That bottle and that dropper kept my son busy for twenty whole minutes.
If you haven’t been chasing after a two year old for the past couple of years, then you probably wouldn’t understand what “being kept busy for twenty minutes” means. For some parents, it’s the difference between getting to pay a few bills and having the power shut off, getting to poop alone or having to beg your child not to stick their hand in the toilet while you’re using it…and for some, twenty minutes may quite simply mean the difference between remaining sane and being ushered to Bellevue.
A $6.99 bottle of Mylicon…as I watched him put the top on and off, on and off, on and off, I looked around at his playroom and the ridiculous amount of toys that he has. There’s a train table, twelve different types of toy trucks, blocks, legos, books, a talking farmhouse, a talking vacuum cleaner, and a ton of other things on which I’ve spent money and about which he couldn’t care less.
And as I watched him dissect the Mylicon bottle, I sat at my computer and purchased tickets to A DAY WITH THOMAS. Hadn’t I already learned my lesson? This kid would be happy playing with a bottle of Coffee Mate and yet I was spending $75 for us to go see the “real” Thomas the Train. And of course, when I outed myself to other parents of toddlers, they freaked out with excitement, as if they were a group of twelve year-olds about to meet Justin Bieber. “YOU’RE GOING TO SEE THOMAS?! WHERE? HOW? JAKE WOULD LOOOOOOVE THAT! SEND ME THE LINK!” Some of them had already gone or already had their tickets.
Apparently, we had all forgotten about how our grandmothers’ favorite toys were cardboard boxes and empty toothpaste tubes. We’d all forgotten about how we’re not supposed to overstimulate our kids, and to spend insane amounts of money on crap they don’t care about. We’d all forgotten about it because the notion that our children might like an experience or a toy or anything more than the last “thing”…the notion that they might be kept busy for more than twenty minutes is worth $75 or $100 or maybe even more.
Once we got to Thomas, and I saw hundreds of other parents wandering around wondering what they’d signed up for, I finally realized that we were all in this together. The quest to occupy our little people, to watch the twinkle in their eyes as they encountered their own little people version of a rockstar was moving…at least for fifteen minutes. There was a real Thomas steam engine thing that we rode around in and there was kettle corn and they even made a decent hot dog. So, despite the hour-long car ride and the droves of toddlers begging their parents for Thomas crap, we were having a good time. But of course, after the first 30 minutes, Max was over Thomas and he just began to run…back and forth on a strip of concrete next to the trains. He ran, screaming with job for…well…about twenty minutes…back and forth….back and forth. He could have been anywhere…he could have been at home in our backyard, or our hallway or in someone’s dog run. Did I need to spend $75 and drive an hour and fifteen minutes so he could run around? Did I need to fight with him over whether I would buy him Thomas themed bubbles? Did I need to chase him in and out of the “A DAY OUT WITH THOMAS BOUTIQUE (WITH ITEMS NOT FOUND IN REGULAR RETAIL STORES!)?” No. Will he remember going to this blessed event? No. But, you can’t play with a bottle of Mylicon forever and sometimes you’ve got to leave the house…even if it is to drive to Filmore and spend way too much money. So tomorrow, I’ll whip out a cardboard box and he’ll go to town and hopefully, I’ll get to use the bathroom all by myself.