Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Great Wig Head Incident of 2007

This afternoon I drove to our adorable little downtown with the girls--threw the stroller in the back of the car so we could go for a walk in the spring sunshine. Kill some loooong-afternoon time, get some exercise, and enjoy the sweet little shops and the town square and the river view all at the same time. It was lovely except for the little incident I'm about to relay. Well, OK, there was also that moment when my toddler almost ran into the street (though, as she explained to me quite vehemently at the time, she was NOT RUNNING INTO THE STREET, she was ON THE SIDEWALK, which was technically true, but since she was racing headlong toward the end of the sidewalk with no discernible clue that she was planning on stopping before the curb, you can see why I might have misunderstood her intentions) and, while I was busy stopping her, my baby's stroller almost rolled backward into the river. Thanks, older lady on the park bench who snagged the stroller (there was a fence, people! it only rolled a few feet down the sidewalk! there was no real danger!) and no doubt looked up the number for Child Protective Services shortly thereafter.

OK, but that was just a fleeting moment of, um, parenting underachievement, and the rest of the walk was fine, until the Great Wig Head Trauma.

First of all, you have to understand that Julia is scared of a larger-than-life-sized mural of a giant hot dog with arms, legs, and a smiling face that adorns the wall outside Tiny's hot dog shop on one of the downtown blocks. She calls him "Hot Dog Man," and she worries about him a great deal: "We won't see Hot Dog Man, right Mama? Where is Hot Dog Man? Why am I so scared of Hot Dog Man? Is Hot Dog Man up here, Mama? Is he up here? Is he here? We WON'T see Hot Dog Man, right Mama?"

So, of course, in persuading Julia that going downtown for a walk would be a fun activity, I assured her that we would walk on the other side of the street from Hot Dog Man when we came to that block. Of course I had to reiterate this plan about, oh, ten million times on the two-minute drive to Division Street and another ten million more as we parked the car, began our walk, and almost ran into traffic/rolled into the river.

So we crossed the street to the west side, and as usual I positioned Julia on the storefront side of the sidewalk while I pushed the stroller on the street side. This meant that her face was just inches from the various shop displays. Including the Ragstock display. With the WHITE STYROFOAM WIG HEAD SPORTING AN UNHYGIENIC-LOOKING BLACK WIG. INCHES FROM HER FACE.

You know the rest of the story, right? How she jumped a foot and then talked nonstop for the next two hours about the "scary mannequin"?--"Why was I so scared of the mannequin? Why was there a wig head there? Will I have to go by the wig head again? Where is the scary wig head? Why was there a mannequin with a wig? Is it up there? Where is it?" And, when I assured her that I never would have walked us past the shop if I had known there was a wig head in the window: "You didn't mean to go by the wig head. You didn't know there was a wig head there!" Oh, and this heartbreaker: "Mama, my tummy began to scare!" And then, "Why did my tummy begin to scare?"

OK, but there's this: At first you feel really bad for her. You really do. It's obviously a big deal to her and you're a good parent; you're not going to belittle or minimize her fears. You try really hard to reassure her over and over, explain what a mannequin is, what a wig is, what a costume is. And then after awhile--a long, tedious, repetitive-Q-&-A while--you start sighing heavily and saying things like, "Honey, can we just not talk about the wig head anymore? We're ALL DONE talking about the wig head!"


[*and isn't "no more wig head" just begging to be the next Dooce header slogan?]

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