Every so often I engage in an activity with the boys that makes me wonder if I have well and truly gone over the edge. I like to think I'm a pretty capable momma, but there are a few things that sometimes just leave me speechless that I even tried - the latest of these is our adventure two Saturdays ago to "paint-your-own pottery".
Friday was my sister-in-law's birthday, and we couldn't make it to her party which is going to be held at a, you guessed it, paint-your-own pottery cafe. I had said that we would prepare her gift locally, in our own time, so that we were included in her collection of gifts of hand-painted items.
On Saturday, Blake and Noah and I headed over to the All Fired Up cafe in East Dulwich. About 3 minutes before we parked the car, Blake dropped his plastic T Rex dinosaur and started howling in the backseat that he wanted it. My side of the conversation degenerated in this fashion: "What can I do, sweetie, I'm driving the car?!" "I'll get it for you when we stop." "Play with the other two that you still have, instead." "I can't get it right now, Blake, I'm driving." "Why did you drop him, then?!?" "It will have to wait!" "If you don't stop screaming I am going to throw it away when we stop the car."
Once we had parked, and T Rex had been safely returned to Blake's hands, we headed into the cafe. My nerves were already starting to fray, but onward we forged. Inside the shop, Noah and Blake instantly started running around, with my hovering and chasing them as they approached shelf upon shelf of unpainted ceramics...aaah! As I went to retrieve Noah after he'd wandered toward a collection of people's uncollected items, I then turned to find Blake waving a piggy bank around like it was made of plastic. Ahhh, put that down, please!
We finally got settled: me working on a bowl, Blake working on an egg cup, Noah strapped into his stroller eating a bag of potato chips (I've never been the finest in terms of nutrition and bribery). I managed to order a ham and cheese sandwich, the arrival of which was exciting in and of itself, as it meant a slight change of scenery for Noah, who by now was wondering why I thought I could get away with strapping him in. I was persevering with my bowl, and managed to create something that looked relatively decent, and included a fingerprint or two from Noah; Blake had refused to help me with my bowl because he was working on his egg cup. Several minutes passed. The shop seemed to be getting warmer. At the table behind us, a lady and her very well-behaved and composed 7-year-old (?) daughter were painting some sort of princess figurine, while a baby was gurgling away in her stroller. Beads of sweat had started to form on my brow. Blake started moaning about something and had squirted a ton of turquoise paint on the table, which I tried to clean up. Noah seemed to get hold of a sponge and was attempting to stuff it into his mouth. At this point, we had to return to the food counter and purchase something - anything - to placate Blake. Noah was now chewing a bit of lettuce from the sandwich that he'd discovered from somewhere, and wanted more chips. Blake then set about devouring a chocolate brownie, and I thought that I was just about near enough completion of my bowl. It was at this moment that Blake decided he did want to help me with my bowl, and in a matter of seconds he had pounced in and left all sorts of brownie flecks on the bowl. I think I screeched at him to "get away from it with those hands" before remembering that there were other people there who were supposedly enjoying themselves, and my words did not exactly imply encouragement of the artistic genius within all children. Somehow I thought this would be a good time to let Noah out. He probably had something to do with "convincing" me of this, as I am often swayed when he starts to scream and whimper and fight against the straps of his stroller. He headed straight toward a large stack of unpainted platters and then tripped, his forehead landing fortunately several millimeters from them. I asked the girl who worked at the shop and who had helped us get settled whether she thought my bowl looked ok, and she said yes. I asked the lady who was painting the princess figurine whether she thought the bunny needed a face. "No, I think it looks nice the way it is." I am 99.9% sure she said that because she was thinking that I was going to have a coronary if we stayed a minute longer.
Blake's egg cup looked like it needed a little attention so I asked him if I could paint a "B" on it, to which he agreed. I had Noah on my hip for this part. Finally we paid, and were back at the car. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, looked at the clock and decided 1:00 pm was not too early for a glass of wine (for when we got home), and then had to laugh when Blake, from the backseat, said, "Mommy, when can we come back here again?"
I picked up our finished product today, and am pretty pleased with our efforts. Faceless bunny, brownie flecks, and all.
All of us (mothers, parents, people) paint a picture inside our heads of what we want to be. While I certainly will look back this event with slight bemusement and relief (with a smattering of pride), it's good to remember that we all have our limitations. I now know that single-handedly trying to manage 2 boys under the age of 4, and simultaneously create two beautiful works of painted art, probably goes well beyond my natural limits. I can't wait to go back and paint figurines in several years, however, although next time I'll take a friend and see if the place wouldn't mind my bringing my own wine as well. Happy Birthday, Lykke!