So yesterday, in a desperate need to actually LEAVE the house for something other than a trip to the grocery, I took the Old Man and the Little Man to the Renegade Craft Fair being held here in Los Angeles. A short walk (or so we thought) from the Chinatown subway station. On what turned out to be an almost 90-degree December day. Thanks, for nothing, Winter Warlock. Just for that, I’m only using spray deodorant for the next month.
Anywho--I loves me a good craft fair. And Renegade is a favorite, because it's a bit more "artsy" than "crafty." No poodle-shaped hot water bottle cozies in sight--but I did find devotional candles with the "Saint Dorothy" ala Wizard of Oz, and cool t-shirts of Star Wars Dia De Los Muertos skulls. Where are the pics, you ask? Did I buy tons and put the bank account in peril? Share! Share! Share!
Alas, the only thing I bought yesterday was some tasty food from some local food trucks…and a beer for the old man.
The issue was the fact that my son was already tired and cranky when we got off the train. And that was…
Before we had to walk half a mile to the actual fair.
Before any peanut butter sandwiches were consumed.
Before the heat index approached the level of “You should have sinned less.”
Before we were huddling for shade under a tree that offered about as much cover as we’d get from a nearby-standing Olson twin. Yeah, the one with the eating disorder. I cannot feel empathy for a woman who literally can’t bring herself to eat pie. With whipped cream.
My OLD MAN (we) hates crowds.
Now, had we left perhaps an hour or hour.5 earlier, it would have no doubt been a tasty excursion, with lovely handmade artifacts straining the seams of my backpack in a beautiful, lumpy nylon kind of way. But we didn’t leave that early, and without Doc Brown and Marty McFly nearby, we were gonna be stuck in THIS imperfect space-time continuum. And me sadly without my flask.
The train ride itself was almost an hour of mind-numbing, patience-testing waiting and riding. By the time we got there, Ben was already a little over-stimulated / pooped.
The Old Man offered to take Ben while I snuffled about, checking out the booths manned by people who have more talent than myself (along with an unfathomable ability to market themselves), but it just didn't feel right. Even after eating that tasty lunch in a “shady” spot, I felt like a meltdown from Ben was imminent. And knowing how I feel when I’m the one who has to deal with one of his meltdowns solo, I just didn't feel right leaving him with the old man while I checked out tchotchkes. Not to mention that the fair was filled with my absolute least-favorite kind of people: PEOPLE.
Have I mentioned that I don't like people? Like, people in general. People suck.
Yes, those people, too.
I commented in a previous post about the rise of rudeness, but even people who think they are being polite get on my nerves. Example: I was trying to check out the devotional candles I mentioned earlier, but there were two people standing directly in front of the table, refusing to give an INCH so that someone else might be able to look (and I wasn't the only one--me and another lady were waiting to pounce once a centimeter of space was visible). And it wasn't as if they were talking to the artist, who was sitting cool and comfortable in the non-public space behind the table, or even discussing the candles themselves--but rather the role of Judy Garland in film. REALLY? Not just the Wizard of Oz either, but her entire cinematic career. And these Oz-heads couldn't dare take two steps to the left with this riveting biographical bent to allow other patrons to peruse wares, because, methinks, walking might have left them unable to simultaneously speak.
You see where I'm going here?
So we walked around, and I looked where I could, my old man sipped his beer and Ben continued to get stimulated.
When I'd had enough hippies hawking wares, my kid yankin’ on my arm like demons were chasing him, and the old man cringing with each collision between hippie stranger and his personal space, I declared an end to the festivities and paraded us back the half mile to the train station.
All this time I kept waiting for Ben to erupt. His little cheeks were pink from the heat (a lovely genetic trait he acquired from me--ahhh, to be fair skinned), and he was shufflin' his feet and walking as slowly as possible. I figured that any minute he would begin The Dance of Protest®--prolly right as we were in an enclosed train and underground. I was flinch-y with anticipation of meltdown madness while guilt was beginning to soak through my bandana for dragging him out into This Wretched Day of Shweatiness.
But no…Little Man held it together. He was disappointed to find his water cup empty while we waited, but dealt with it in his own way (with the help of daddy tickles). He followed us along all through Union Station to our destination subway platform without complaint--no doubt enjoying the escalators, a personal obsession of his. But a bigger surprise awaited me on the final train home…
We had boarded the train, and he was established at the window that displayed nothing but black emptiness. At the first stop he exhibited some frustration, wanting to get off the train. Good Lord, I thought. Here we go. So I looked at the map and told him he had 12 more stops. That seemed to quiet him a little, and he broke into a few verses of Jingle bells to pass the time (and by verses, I mean the same verse repeated ad nauseum). At the next stop, we told him “11 more stops!” and he looked at us like we were powdered-lipped crack heads lookin for a hit between frenetic bouts of itchiness. Next stop, we told him “Ten more stops!” and he frankly ignored us. Fair enough--it was a dumb game anyway. We rode along in relative silence, Ben babbling to himself about something only he could understand, and a few stops later, he turned to look at us and said, "7 more stops." Daddy looked at the map and a smile crept across his face: Ben was right. We congratulated him and rode on. At each stop, except for 2, he told us the number of stops left--without prompting. Seriously. My kid was doing math. MY kid. He's not even technically 4 yet. (That’s the cube root of 64, donchaknow?)
Ok--it wasn't exactly math, but it kinda was. And for MY kid to do this is a goddamned miracle. You might say I come from a long line of mathematically-challenged people. Not horribly so--I can do most math up through pre-calculus--but I am certainly not speedy at it. To witness me adding or subtracting big numbers in my head can be a lesson in comedy for others (jerks), but I still get the right answer, if given a generous amount of time and a one-to-seven ounces of triple-distilled vodka. When my former high school students would complain to me about how hard their math classes were, I would use myself as the example that it CAN be done--you just gotta work harder. (I taught history BTW--as far from math as I could get--and don't even get me started on how challenging my Econ class was…) So, every time my kid embraces numbers and how they work, I am awestruck and proud. You go, Einstein! You make math your bitch! Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.
We made it home without a meltdown, and with a little more awe in our pocket. Each time I read about what kids with Autism can't do, I like to go into that pocket and revel in what Ben CAN do. Cause it's an awesome pocket.
Next challenge: Santa Claus...