Last Friday was our day with Lola, age 2 years 5 months. So we set out for Walgreen’s to pick up some medicine. Last time we did this I made the mistake of walking down the candy aisle, which led to the purchase of a particularly cloying box of Hello Kitty super-goo colored animals.
This time, I started down the same aisle, realized my mistake, and took the next aisle instead, and Lola followed. But the Walgreen’s marketers are not fools, and this time we found ourselves in the toy aisle. Lola is a quick learner, and she has become amazingly adept in stores at surveying shelves and focusing quickly. She surveyed, focused, decided, reached, and grabbed the Dora the Explorer Bat and Ball – a large, soft bat and ball with Dora looking straight out at us from the shrink wrap. As she pushed it at me, she declared, “My birthday present!” Perhaps the predominance of lawyers in our family is not coincidental, because she was very convincing. And luck was on my side because it was on sale for $3.99. A cardinal point of the Budd Shenkin Theory of Child Rearing is "Give In Early." You don't want them to think they can make you do something by a tantrum or prolonged pleading, so don't go down that road. Accordingly, I put the Dora the Explorer bat and ball in the basket.
We caught up with Ann at the pharmacy check out line. Ann took the Dora bat and ball with an understanding smile and gave it to the check out clerk, who looked at her for confirmation that this was a valid addition. So Lola piped up, “It’s my birthday present!”
The clerk smiled softly and asked Ann, mother to mother, “When is her birthday?”
“February!” said Ann with a bemused smile and then a giggle, and the clerk laughed with surprise and her own bemused appreciation, and put it in the bag.
As we left the clerk and passed by the next in line, a compact Black man in a work jacket, he told Lola with his soft African accent, “Happy Birthday!” What a sweet man he was, and we had to laugh.
So, since then she and I have been playing “Lola Baseball” in our back yard. Here’s the way Lola Baseball works. She grabs either the Dora bat or the Dora ball and says “Pitch!” If she has the bat she holds it with two hands right over her head, and I throw it to try to hit the bat. If she has the ball and I have the bat, she throws it – she is a pretty good pitcher -- and I usually hit it. Whichever it is, she then yells, “Strikeout!”
If I’ve been hitting she grabs the bat out of my hands and throws it on the ground. She takes the ball and throws it in the dirt under the little grapefruit tree. She grabs me by the thighs, turns me around, and forcefully – forcefully! -- pushes me and yells, “Run, Baba!” I run up our little path about six or seven yards and turn around and jog back and she laughs uproariously. The play is apparently ended then, because she then finds the ball, grabs the bat, and we do it once again.
Then her attention is usually diverted to something else. After all, she’s only two. I heard a rumor she recently had a birthday.