Coordination has never been my strong suit. If a couch is near, I’ll stub my toe on it. If a table is there, my thigh will find a corner. Door frames leap out and ram into my shoulders and hands as I walk through. I’ve hit my head on so many cabinets it’s a wonder I don’t have a permanent knot on top of my noggin. I am continually covered in bruises from an indeterminate origin, just because I run into things so often I forget which bruise went with which piece of furniture.
My lack of coordination and grace also applies to social situations. In large gatherings, I usually will say or do something to embarrass myself. Add children to this mix, and all of the rush-rush craziness that goes with them, and, well, maybe we shouldn’t be invited anywhere for five years or so.
We recently went to a friend’s little boy’s first birthday party. As usual, we were late because of trying to anticipate anything that would go wrong, any food the children would need, changes of clothes, toys of distraction, etc. So, as the almost-last ones there, we hurry to get inside the house in case we’ve missed the presents and Happy Birthday sing-along. We do make it inside without incident, but that’s pretty much where that sense of complacency ends.
As we get inside, everyone is in the process of filling their plates so I get in line for my son, giving my daughter to my husband. Sebastian sits down to eat and is so excited he promptly pees on his chair. And it runs down onto the nice wooden floor. We’re embarrassed because it was really my fault. I saw that he needed to use the restroom, but after getting a resounding “No!” when I asked if he needed to, I thought I’d let him tell me when he was ready since he’d been doing so well at home. But a 1-year-old’s birthday party is not the same as our somewhat-calm home. I took the baby and my husband cleaned up Sebastian and the floor. Luckily I anticipated this sort of accident and came prepared with a change of clothes.
However, I apparently forgot to bring dignity.
Since I was holding the baby, I got back in line to fill my plate up one-handed. While I reach to pick up a fork, I run into a picture hanging on the wall. I can’t catch it with my hand, and I don’t want to let it drop and break, so I stop it with my backside. In doing so, the wall behind the picture becomes scratched. Of course.
And the baby is teething and crying. And spends most of the rest of the party crying until I finally get her to sleep. And then she wakes up and cries some more.
As we go to leave and finally make it through the cake and song and presents and bouncy house without any more mishaps, my husband knocks a planter off the porch steps with the baby’s car seat, spilling flowers and dirt all over the place.
And in the goodbyes, with the usual “Thank you for inviting us, I’m so sorry about everything. Let’s get together soon,” my friend laughingly says, “Maybe we should go to your house next time.”
Maybe we should just live in a bubble until we master this two-children thing.
*This was originally published in The News-Enterprise's Wednesday's Woman on April 27, 2011.