What's more fun than being sick and a quasi-single parent over the weekend? Having to atone for a year's worth of sins at the exact same time. Although, I think that the whole "sick and single parenting" might just be the penance for a year's worth of sins. No, really. It's not like I'm that bad during the year and I may have even muttered under my breath at one point, "seriously, G-d, if I get through this weekend without completely losing my mind, you go on ahead and inscribe me in those books of life, happiness and health for the next year, mkay?" So, hopefully he was game and I'm home free for another 365.
We were supposed to spend Saturday and Saturday night at a friend's house, playing games, watching movies and after sunset, partaking in excessive noshing (well, everyone else before sunset, me after sunset.) (and by "noshing" I mean "drinking wine"--but again, just the grown ups). Since I had to cancel those plans lest I spread this creeping crud o' plague, I promised Ethan I'd make it up to him. We'd play games, watch movies and (after sunset, for me) eat pizza and ice cream snuggled up in bed. We'd have our own sleep over!! Yay for Fun Mommy!!!
This required a trip to Target, to purchase the Objects of Fun: the happy fun classic game Hungry, Hungry Hippos & the cinematic classic, E.T. And frozen pizza. I got Ethan apple juice and a chocolate chunk cookie at the Target Starbucks, and then partook in my only real "cheat" of the day--a tall soy chai. I choose to believe in a G-d who would totally understand that the warm soy was *this* close to medicinal. The rest of the day, I staved off the hunger by sucking on cough drop after cough drop, which is totally allowable, and was also almost like extra penance for sins, since I purposefully selected the grossest, medicine-iest flavor I could find: "honey lemon", which takes exactly nothing like either honey OR lemon, but rather like some sort of slow-dissolving evil. If I'd wanted to go for maximum effect, I could have opted for Sucrets, but I didn't want to atone quite that much. It's not like I killed anyone or cheated on my taxes, for cripes sake.
I hacked my way through the aisles of Target, me & my germs making friends all around, and then headed home. Ethan jumped around me like an eager puppy dog as I put the Hungry Hungry Hippos together & then the inane children's game tournament began on our living room floor. I am so grateful for the no-reading, no-counting, no-following-any-real-directions rules of play for Hungry Hungry Hippos because I was so not up for Ethan making up his own rules or having to explain to him eleventy billion times that he had to move his piece to that ladder or that gumdrop forest. I was going for "keep him busy, keep him happy with the least amount of effort possible. because you're awesome that way," kind of day. And I got it.
We had a blast with the Hippos. I have to say, the kid was en fuego with the Hippos. I wasn't trying to let him win, I swear, but he cleaned that board up every single time. I'm sure this says something about the quality of my reflexes, but oh well. Something about the green hippo--it got the most marbles every time. Some sort of weird marble vortex or something; I have no idea. But we'd pop the marbles from their feeders into the middle of the board, Ethan would present a very dramatic countdown from 5 and then we'd lean into the board, each of us working two hippos and scream at our hippos to "EAT THE MARBLES!!!! GAAAAAAHHHHHH" until the board was empty. Come to think of it, all that encouraging of the hippos *might* be why I could barely speak yesterday. Because everyone knows that when you've already got a sore throat, yelling at hippos to eat more marbles will definitely send you over the edge.
But I wanted Ethan to have fun, so these are the sacrifices we make. After countless games of encouraging the hippos to eat to full-on obesity, we "made a traffic jam" with Ethan's gazillion matchbox cars (apparently he's not forgotten the hours he sat in LA traffic yet, either). We also made zucchini muffins, which was pretty much torture for me, but fun for him. In my quest to lite-ify things, I've been experimenting with substituting apple sauce for things like oil, but I'm coming to the conclusion that no matter how good my intentions are, I end up with dense, gooey bricks of baked good instead of light, fluffy, easily-identifiable muffins. When your muffin flat tops out at the top of the muffin cup, that's not good muffin. So we're going back to the full-on oil and egg excess, baby. I'll just have to wrap things up in pretty cellophane and give them away because as much as I love baking, I can't eat everything I bake. I'm striving to avoid being a contestant on The Biggest Loser.
As the sun was getting low in the sky, my stomach started growling and I started feeling that gnawing nauseas "you've repented enough" feeling, I decided, in a show of symbolic solidarity with my family on the East Coast, to break my fast on EST. So Ethan and I had pizza around 5:30 (Ethan was eating all day, by the way; no fasting for preschoolers!). This sounds like a cop out and like "well, you've already got something to atone for NEXT year!!', but when I get too hungry, "the beast" comes out--crazy, irrational, weepy, angry Sarah. And seriously, with 2-3 more hours of solo child care ahead of me? The most loving and compassionate thing I could do for both Ethan and myself was eat that pizza. Really. Ask Husband.
We then moved on to the "this is either going to be totally awesome or entirely traumatizing" portion of our day, and watched E.T. Ethan's not a big fan of the scary movie--and by "scary movie" I mean, Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Any Movie with a Wicked Witch In It, etc. He doesn't have a high tolerance for a lot of action or scary, shifty figures--the sharks in Nemo? Scare the crap out of him. The weasly bad-guy monster in Monsters, Inc.? Scares the crap out of him. And then there's all that stuff about the Wicked Witches. So I didn't really have high hopes for E.T., what with the aliens and the zig-zagging flashlights and the Halloween sequences and the overall intensity of it. But his friend Olivia had recently seen it and loved it and even though she's generally a bit braver than Ethan (and he knows it), he wanted to give E.T. a try.
He was completely enrapt. He was sitting on my lap almost the entire time (which was awesome right around the time my fever came back), so I couldn't see his face much, but I would safely guess that he didn't blink more than 5 times throughout the entire movie. I'm also not sure he heard more than five minutes of dialogue because he asked questions nonstop. And you might be tempted to think I am exaggerating on the "nonstop" description because, well, you know me and my love of The Hyperbole. But no, really, people. Nonstop.
Everything from the occasional plot-based question: "Where are they going on the bikes? Are they going to fly E.T. back to outer space?" to questions which lead me to believe he's going to need a lot of practice at "not being annoying" at the movie theater, "Why are the cars like that?", by which he means, "I have no concept of how car models change over time and this is blowing my mind almost as much as the idea as a little alien man coming down from space. let's spend some time talking about this whole car thing." Oh. My. Head.
He pulled a totally stereotypical male move when the movie got scary (and I felt badly because I forgot how horrible E.T. looks when he gets really sick)--he got down off of my lap and went over to the other couch. He apparently needed his own space to deal with this turn of events. But the questions kept coming. "Is E.T. sick?" "Why is he sick?" "Elliot's sick, too." "Is he sick because E.T.'s sick?" "Are they going to get better?" "Is E.T. going to die?" "Why did they put him in that?" And then of course, the "Mommy, why are you crying?" questions started because I AM A WUSS AND I CRY AT E.T. Feel free to judge, whatever. In a move of complete and utter sweetness, Ethan returned from the other couch before the end of the movie because he wanted to hold my hand, "so you won't be sad, Mommy. E.T's all better now." Ethan's not really clear on the concept of "happy tears." I'm a big crier of the happy tears.
Long story short (ha! as if), he loved the movie. I asked several times if he wanted me to turn it off when it got intense or scary and he would not hear of it; he insisted on watching all of it and at the end he talked for almost thirty minutes about how Elliot was so sad that E.T. had to leave, but E.T. promised to always be in Elliot's thoughts and he told Gertie to "be good" because she taught him how to say it and he was a good friend even though he had to go away. And I swear, he was killing me with The Sweet and reminding me of how much the movie impacted me the first time I saw it and the whole "oh my gosh, I'm watching one of the first movies I ever saw as a child WITH MY BABY and having a conversation with him about what a great movie it is and my heart, it is busting with the joy and the bittersweet and the loooooooove."
Fasting will make you a little overly emotional, people. Even if you do get pizza at the end of it.
As an aside, can we talk for a second about the parenting FAILS in that movie? The mom? Who lets her teenage son and his friends SMOKE cigarettes, at the kitchen table?!!! And who says to her 4-5 year old girl, "I have to go down to the school to pick up your brother--you stay right here and be good!" as she leaves her home, alone (and with an alien!!! even though she doesn't know that. still. you don't leave kids home alone! because there might be aliens!) And who tells her 4-5 year old girl, at another point in the movie, to "get in the car!!!" as she holds open the front door for her?!! Seriously, its amazing Gertie survives to the end of that movie!
I'm kidding, for the most part. It was an interesting snapshot into what parenting used to be like and how many more "rules" we have today about how to not be a horrible parent. No one in 1982 was clutching their pearls in horror as Gertie got left home alone in front of a television (and with aliens!!!) or shuttled into the front seat of the car, nary a booster seat in sight. But seriously. Wow.