What do you do with a rainy New York Saturday when you actually have nothing on the social calendar for the first time in, perhaps, months? No birthday parties, no family obligations, no work craziness, no pressing chores?
You take your daughter to The Little Shop of Crafts, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, that's what you do! Better known (in the circle of me) as The Little Shop of Exhorbitantly Priced Cheap Crap That You Suck It Up And Pay For Because Your Daughter Is Enjoying Herself and You Want To Have Some Quality Time With Her.
Because, you know, what could possibly beat the joy a mother derives from watching her daughter paint a $15.00 plaster ice cream cone that's barely even the size of her little hand? Oh, I know. I know: Helping her create a $17 necklace using the cheapest beads imaginable at about .75 each. That kicks ass.
But I'm not a complainer, really.
Whenever I go to this section of Manhattan though,I always find myself jaw-droppingly dumbfounded by the clearly obvious differences between moms living on the Upper East Side and, well, moms like me.
Not once, but twice that afternoon, I was mistaken for an employee of The Little Shop of Crafts. Was it the fact that I was actually standing up and engaging in activity with my child, drying her plaster ice cream cone with a hairdryer, chatting with her in my plastic, paint-splattered smock? Maybe it was the hippie jewelery that made me seem like I'd be working in a pottery shop. Or the straggly, practically dredded bed-head hair I'd pulled into in a messy knot on top of my head that smelled suspiciously like patchouli. Or perhaps it's simply that these Aryan Stepford loonies never actually come across anyone like me. Unless I'm cleaning their house or waiting on them at The Whole Foods.
One woman walked up to me looking completely horrified, a flawlessly-dressed, vomit-smeared little cherub practically spilling out of her arms (clearly mom was afraid of getting something on her). She pointed one french-manicured finger at me and said, "Excuse me? Hi. Hi. Yes. My daughter just threw up in the car on the way over here, and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind if I used your bathroom?"
She was practically shoving the child at me, likely in the hopes that I would step in for the weekending nanny and scrape the puke off her myself.
"Oh! Sure! It's in the back!" I said. Why burst her bubble? She clearly had her hands, um, full.
The other thing I notice when I venture into this neighborhood is the differences in parenting styles. Next to us at the beading table was the most heinous little monster I have seen, perhaps, ever. He couldn't have been more than 6 or 7, but already was foaming at the mouth with so much bile and hatred of his mother and the world that it was physically unpleasant to be sitting near him. He got tired of making his necklace (Mom had dropped probably 50 bucks on fugly glass beads for her own monstrosity and was focused on her own project), so he decided to start screaming, "I QUIT!!! I QUIT!!!" and jumping up and down on the benches, demanding a free balloon, and swiping at his mother.
Hey, a tantrum's a tantrum. All our kids have embarrassed us at some point or another, displaying less-than-exemplary behavior in the grocery store or subway, making us wish to Christ the ground would open up and swallow us into oblivion as old neighborhood ladies look on with distaste.
But this went on for forty-five minutes.
All the while I don't think Mom looked up more than three times, but only repeated a toneless mantra of, "Jagger, if you don't stop being so bad, you're not going to get any pizza."
No pizza for Jagger.
Harsh, Mom. Harsh.
All in all, the day was fun though. I dropped more cash than I'd expected to, but Lily had a blast and we enjoyed each other immensely. Just Mom and Lil. Much-needed bonding time.
I was freaking glad to go back to Queens though. Let me tell you.
3 days ago