Thursday, June 23, 2011

Of Trains, Freaks, Zombies, & Mama Bears

[A post 3 weeks in the making!] 

So the boy and I took Amtrak out to Kansas City for my big race.  A bit over 5 hours but if you factor out the time for airport security and the risk we'd never get on a plane flying standby, and add in the comfy seats and the lure of a train to a 6 year old, it was a great trip.  Plus, it was the boy's birthday present from his uncle and offered incredible people watching for me so win-win.  Any sociologist in need of paper ideas needs to scoot down to Amtrak post-haste.  Bizarre and awesome mix of suburbanites taking their (mostly male) kids on an Exciting Train Adventure and others who, forgive me for making snap superficial judgments, but others who probably don't have the personal auto/airplane options available to them.  Particularly delightful was the contact high I got from the lady who leaned up against me as I was getting something out of our bag & asked if I worked there.  In case you're curious, I was wearing a black T-shirt, not a white button down with epaulets.  I must have that bureaucratic stench about me. 
Also noteworthy was the incredibly creepy guy sitting in front of us.  When we got on the conductor gave us two separate aisle seats & told us to ask someone to move.  Fine.  For a second I was thinking we had to wait for the train to take off, like a plane, so I told the boy to sit down in front (next to creepy guy) for a few minutes but... No.  I'm not making any claims of super mom intuition but it just seemed wrong.  Pasty middle aged guy, my kid... No.  [And, genius, I realized we didn't need to wait to reach cruising altitude].  So the gal next to me agreed to switch and we settled in.  Except creepy guy kept chiming in to our conversations.  The seat backs were high & he couldn't see us but he was listening...  Yech.  I ignored him & took my son with me when I visited the loo so in all it was a non-event but still, maybe a little intuition? 
A LOT of people talk to my kids.  They're both really stinking cute & my son is hyper-friendly (I know it's bizarre, but I'm fairly certain he's mine) but he needs to not tell everyone who asks what his name is & where he goes to school.  We've been working on that.  I've also been trying to tell him that private parts are private... but he's asking for more & more parameters (who? when? why?).  I get the feeling the boys are talking at school...?  I am so very much not prepared for this.  He also asked me again last night how babies get out of the mommies' tummies.  It feels too soon to provide a technical description but maybe it's just me who's not ready?  But then we need to have these conversations NOW because he's 6 (wait, only 6?  What the hell am I talking about?  But then there are creepy guys out there on trains.  Parental confusion!) 
White shirt.  Epaulets.  Official looking hat.  NOT mom in black T-shirt.
Anyway, after we got to Kansas City we did a couple errands (new running hat!), carbo-loaded (my SIL is an excellent cook), and then ventured out to First Friday, which is when the art district opens all the galleries, the street vendors come out ...and the flash mobs emerge.  My first flash mob!  Its mere proximity caused my coolness quotient to skyrocket.  Except, NO.  It was a zombie mob with a freakishly large number of people, who poured a freakish amount of time and detail and gore into their costumes, and who had clearly practiced their freakishly realistic limps and moaning.  We were sitting on a bench enjoying our icees when they started streaming past (passed?) - I covered the boy's eyes because he's just a 6 year old kid and doesn't need those pictures in his head.  Surprisingly, he didn't object.  I was marveling at it all until one JERK reached for my kid, the one with his head buried in my arms, with a dripping brain-thing in his hands.  Good thing I can cuss up a blue streak.  No one ever expects the suburban mom to get rage-y.  I found out later it was all for a good cause but still, not cool.   

However, I just found this video on YouTube and now that my son isn't with me I think it's kind of funny again.  Weird - undeniably weird - but funny.  The 2011 video seems kind of tame.  If you're bored and click around, there are other zombie videos that better capture the lurching & moaning we saw.  Also, on the zombie website above, there are "zombie rules" posted (don't drip on the sidewalk!  don't assault small children!); drippy JERK was not in compliance, so I'll try not to hate on the next zombie flash mob I run into.  [Because clearly running into another one is just a matter of time!?].

I once heard that you spend the first 10 years of your child's life protecting them from the outside world (sharp knives, viruses, creepy train guys, & zombies) and the next 10 protecting them from themselves (binge drinking, sports cars, & the tramp in his english class).  We're 66% of the way through the first part.  It's a little nerve wracking & exhausting, this parenting gig.  Good thing they're cute!


  1. Whoa, I can't believe you were in a zombie flashmob! And go, you, for public cursing in defense of your son!

    As for the how do babies get out conversation, I say tell the truth. It's fascinating and cool! And he probably knows what a vagina is, since he has a sister, right? I don't have a six-year-old yet, so I haven't had to deal with this on a personal level, but I'm all in favor of the graphic details.

  2. We hadn't gotten into the details much - other than to correct him early on, mid-diaper change when he yelled something like "SHE HAS TWO BUTTS". Which still makes me laugh.

    I glossed over what I actually said - because it was a trainwreck (badda-dum). Just for the record I circled back around the next night and gave him detailed description with proper names & it was all very Cosby Show wonderful. Luckily he hasn't yet ask how the baby gets IN mommy's tummy.