Over the course of our eight years together, I occasionally have had moments where Justin’s background (Wisconsin boy) and mine (suburban Chicago girl) bump into each other in the most surprising and hilarious ways. One such moment happened at a park in Henry County Georgia- a random stop we made in search of a playground on our way back from Florida last week. When we drove up the road to enter, there were two girls sitting at a folding table in the sun. I thought they were collecting cash for a car wash being held at the park or something. When we approached, one of the girls came up to the driver side window and I said, “What’s happening here?” She informed us about the “lawn mower races” going on today and that it was a $2 donation if we felt so inclined. I kind of mentally stumbled over the words “lawn mower races,” picturing, of course, sweaty tank-topped young men (like in the tractor chicken stand-off in Footloose) perched atop red or green low-powered machines racing pathetically around in circles at like 5 mph. I imagined my 3 year old could have lapped them on his tricycle. I shrugged thinking, I guess this is a Georgia thing.
We found 2 sweaty dollar bills and handed them over and she showed us where to park. We were the first car in the lot. As we got out and were walking over to the playground, I assumed Justin shared my awe and wonder at this wild excursion into Georgia culture. I giggled and said, “What in the hell is a lawn mower race?” And (this is where our differences elate me) he goes, “Seriously? You’ve never heard of lawn mower races?” To which I replied of course, “Seriously? You HAVE heard of lawn mower races?” Around this time, a loud rumble came from behind us and a go-cart looking thing comes racing across the parking lot. It looked a lot like well, a lawn mower, except it was low to the ground and traveling around 30mph. “There’s one now,” said Justin. “That’s no lawn mower!” I shouted over the rumble of its engine. It then became apparent that the term “lawn mower race” is highly misleading. This was a glorified go-cart with the body of a lawn mower. I said this to Justin and he says, “Well, yeah. But it’s still a lawn mower.” Go-cart. Lawn mower. Go-cart. Lawn mower.
We watched our boy play on the playground, changed our 6 month old’s poopy diaper, and headed back to the van without staying for the races. I wanted to stay and watch, but it was an hour before the races start and honestly, just hearing the existence of the phrase “lawn mower race” was enough foreign culture for me for the day.
3. Go potty. His preference is to remove all clothing, if possible, but most importantly shoes, socks, pants, and undies. It doesn’t matter if we are at home or in a public bathroom at say, Target, where one typically likes to hurry things along to get out as soon as possible. His attitude is usually, “What’s the rush, Mom? Why not enjoy this a little? Let’s take off our shoes and socks.” He gives no explanation when asked why he prefers naked potty time. Perhaps he feels more able to heed the call of nature while in his natural state. At home he also prefers to have the lights off with the green night light on and the door halfway open for some privacy. I can only hope that such specific requirements do not stay with him beyond the toddler years. Dorm living would be tough.
2. Run around. Usually this occurs immediately after bath time. After I dry him off, he giggles and asks, “Can I run around?” by which he means, Can I run back and forth across the room naked over and over and yell “Wheeeeeee! Haha!” It is very, very difficult for me to say no to him running around naked. I think our society might be just a little bit better if there were more running around naked time at home. People would feel just a bit more free. A little happier. I watch him run around, do somersaults and downward dog without a single self-conscious moment. He is completely and totally in his body. I have alot to learn from this little master.
1. Eat. This is a puzzler. He actually seems to eat more without pants on. At one point, my husband and I had not re-dressed him yet after a naked potty time and we noticed him in his room, squatting next to a plate of snacks he had taken in there earlier. He was using his hands to eat rather than utensils ala Quest for Fire and nibbling away ferociously, kind of like a wild chimp. Given that we usually have a hard time getting him to sit and eat anything, we were thrilled he was eating, clothes or not. For such an active guy and picky eater, if he wants to recreate a scene from his feral ancestors, scurrying about foraging for food, that’s fine with us. While some parents might look at their naked little squatter with concern about social graces, my husband and I looked at each other and felt relieved. Together we had the same thought: We can place nuts and crackers strategically around the house. At least he’s eating.