Friday, November 22, 2013

Zoe vs. Parades, Festivals, and General Frivolity

Zoe loves to have fun. As long as it's on her terms. When it comes to fun, Zoe determines the when, where, and who. Suggestions are unwelcome and summarily dismissed. Sometimes I feel like she's already that teenager who decides something's not cool if someone else thought it was cool first. All that's missing is an ironic T-shirt.
Today I've grouped Zoe's objections to fun in three categories: 1. parades, 2. festivals and street fairs, and 3. miscellaneous instances of frivolity.
Our neighborhood has a parade every year around Halloween where children dress up, bands play, and there's even a contest for best costume. I didn't bother dressing her up as a baby, though it probably would've been easier, mostly because I didn't see the point; she couldn't walk in a parade because she couldn't walk period. When she was two, her nap time coincided with the parade. However, we did go out after the parade that year, and we saw a lot of other two-year-olds in costume, implying they'd marched in the parade. So this year I was determined.
I bought her Halloween costume early: Cinderella. Figured I'd keep it simple. It was really just a fancy dress, nothing to wear on her head, nothing to hold. I also got shoes which looked like actual glass slippers, my favorite part. I wasn't sure she'd be able to walk in them for long or without falling, but they were so cute I couldn't resist. 
Come the day of the actual parade, Zoe wouldn't put the costume on. Fine. I foresaw that. I'm no fool. But I figured when we got to the staging area and she saw the other kids she might (might!) change her mind. Okay, I take back the part about not being a fool. When we got to the staging area Zoe was still not willing. We did see one other parent who'd had the same idea, and watching as they tried to wrestle their screaming toddler into a Snow White costume dissuaded me from attempting the same.
So we went home, where, you guessed it, as soon as we freed her from the stroller she wanted to put on her "princess dress" and her shoes. She stayed Cinderella the rest of the day, even running and jumping in the glass slippers, and at bedtime we had to fight her to take it off.
There have been other parades. St. Patrick's. Memorial Day. We were unable to stay for long at any. Marching bands from local high schools, old guys in classic cars, local politicians . . . she was unimpressed. From her perch in the stroller she motioned us along. If anyone was going to hold us up, it was going to be Zoe, and it was going to be for something only she wanted to see, like a pile of dirt.
Festivals/Street Fairs
Our neighborhood also has its share of festivals. In Zoe's early years I wheeled her through them and she'd just fall asleep. Golden times. Now she wants out of the stroller so she can run through the crowd, and away from me.

Cappy was shunned by the Looner
community for being too weird.
At one fair this summer Zoe wanted a balloon. She saw other children with them; ipso facto, all balloons belong to Zoe. Maintaining my calm facade while I frantically scanned the booths ahead of us, wondering where these other children had gotten their balloons, I tried to distract her, first with a folksinger, then with a kids' dance troupe. She would not be turned aside. Finally, we came across a man dressed as a clown making balloon animals and other shapes. We stood in line and watched as he twisted balloons into dogs and swords. When we got to the front, the clown gave Zoe a smile and told her he had something special just for her.
He then proceeded to use three balloons---a blue one, a white one, and a pink one---to fashion this complicated heart-within-a-double-circle design. As he worked, Zoe watched him, her expression grave. Sweat poured down the clown's face. When he was done, he handed her the latex creation with a flourish. She regarded it briefly, then turned cold eyes on the clown and spoke five words: "I want a red one." "She means thanks," I said, and hurried away.
As for festival rides Zoe has approach-avoidance issues. She wants to get on them but is afraid, so instead she waits till I'm about to strap her into a mini fire engine or car before freaking out and demanding to go.
It's the same with low-stakes rides. At one street fair she became obsessed with a coin-operated horse ride. I deposited the fifty cents but as soon as the horse started moving she wanted off. Then, from the safety of terra firma, she watched the horse bounce up and down for the rest of the time allotted. Afterwards she kept circling the horse and patting it until another child wanted to get on and then she got upset. It was her psychic hurdle and hers alone! I had to drag her away, hoping she wasn't going to be one of those girls who wanted boys to like her but wouldn't like them back and also didn't want anyone else to have them either. I knew girls like that in high school. They never had exact change.

Innocent children's pastime or equine death machine?

Miscellaneous Frivolity
No dancing.
No singing.
No hugging.
Unless Zoe initiates.
Occasionally The Husband and I turn on iTunes and play the music we used to listen to, pre-Z. Remembering what it was like to be young and unencumbered we sometimes break out dancing or singing. When this occurs, Zoe will look up from whatever she's playing with/destroying and angrily shout: "No dancing!" Or: "No singing!"

Halcyon days. They didn't know
and you couldn't have told them.

Dancing is limited to "Ring Around the Rosy." With Zoe. And we must do it until she tires of it, which has never happened.
Similarly, singing is restricted to Zoe's bedtime, when Daddy MUST sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (not Mommy!) while Zoe gets on her nighttime diaper, Mommy MUST hum the William Tell Overture while Zoe races against Daddy to get her pajamas on first, and finally, after Zoe is actually in bed and covered with exactly five blankets---in a particular order---that she then discards because she doesn't like blankets, Mommy MUST sing "This Old Man" twice through, counting off the numbers with her fingers. 
Furthermore, there is to be no physical contact between the prisoners Mommy and Daddy. Each may initiate a hug with Zoe but BY NO MEANS are we to hug each other. UNLESS we are making a Zoe sandwich with Zoe filling. Otherwise we are to remain firmly on our sides of the couch watching her play with gentle fondness (describing the manner in which we watch, not the manner in which she plays) while simultaneously preparing to spring into action should she need us to tear the living room apart looking for a toy she refuses to name or describe.

You don't want to know
where this finger's been.

She is very serious about all these rules and when we break them she gets very put out and yells "No!" a finger of warning raised in the air. Sometimes I can't help laughing at how tough she looks, but then I remember what she says when we laugh:
"It's NOT funny!"
Zoe: 22; Universe: 0


  1. I love the fact that she knows what she wants and when she wants it...and not a minute before or after that. She's a girl after my own heart! You go, Zoe!! I'm pinning this on Pinterest. Your captions to the photos are HYSTERICAL!!! :D --Lisa

    1. Thanks! What she wants also changes minute to minute, and sometimes second to second. Keeps us on our toes.

  2. She is a freaking HOOT!! And so are you for capturing it all!