Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Victor, the Not-So-Friendly Bull

Last Friday we took the kids to the UB (University at Buffalo) men's basketball home opener. It was a thrill, more for me than for the children. Basketball season is the light of my dark, cold, dreary, Buffalo winters. And last winter was a very, very long winter indeed. Basketball season came and went, and we were only able to go to about three games. Elijah had developed a fear of the mascot.

This wasn't just an "I don't like him" fear. This was a "trembling and crying in his car seat as soon as we approached campus" fear, and I just wasn't willing to put my child through that kind of torturous anxiety no matter how badly I wanted to be at those games.

See, my four years at UB, Victor E. Bull was a happy bull.

I guess people found him to be a bit cheesy. After all, a giant blue bull with a goofy looking grin isn't the most intimidating mascot in NCAA history. But he was more for the kids than anything. He provided a very family friendly atmosphere at the games. Well, except for maybe that one time that he and his partner, Victoria, attacked the Rutgers mascot at the football game...but he was asking for it.

Anyway, sometime between 2005 when I graduated and left Buffalo and 2009 when we moved our family back to Buffalo, Victor underwent a serious makeover.

Meet angry Victor:
Now, do you see why my 4-year old son trembles in his presence?

So last Friday, my parents were visiting. I felt that between my husband and me and Mimi and Pop Pop, Elijah would feel safe, and all would be well, but as soon as we told Elijah where we were going, he protested by taking forever to put his socks and shoes on. That's a major protest if you know my son. He doesn't refuse to do things. He's not that defiant, and if we're going anywhere he's usually so excited that he's the first with this socks and shoes on.

Shockingly, we made it into the gym right on time. We ignored our seating and sat as far away as possible so as to avoid any of Victor's runs though the lower bleachers. But like being stalked by a predator in the jungle, Elijah wouldn't turn his back on Victor, and rarely took his eyes off of him. From where we sat, Victor was the size of my thumb, but Elijah wasn't going to let that fool him.

Close to half-time, Elijah seemed to have forgotten about Victor briefly when he noticed the bounce house down in the corner of the gym. Thinking that this was a great opportunity for Elijah to see how much fun could be had at a basketball game, I jumped at the opportunity to walk the 20 million stairs down there with him. One itty bitty little problem. As we got closer, we noticed, or rather Elijah noticed, that the bounce house corner was the very corner where Victor was standing to cheer on the Bulls. Like a scared little monkey, he had quickly climbed his way up to my hip, and had his arms and legs clenched around me so tightly I could have let go and he wouldn't have budged. He fussed and began to scream that he wanted to go back, but we'd already climbed down 19 million of the 20 million steps, so I pressed forward, explaining to him that Victor wouldn't touch him, and that I would carry him straight to the bounce house. Against his protests we made it safely to the bounce house, and thankfully, Victor walked to the other end of the court during the time-out. Elijah waited patiently in line for his turn to jump. I tried to stand with him while craning my neck to still watch what I could of the game. I was grateful when his turn came up to get inside, because then I knew right where he was, and I could focus a bit more on the game, but no sooner did he climb in, than I heard him screaming. I turned around to see him standing, frozen in the corner of the bounce house. I followed his eyes past me to Victor, who had made his return back to this corner of the gym. Maybe it's just me, but it's my opinion that if they were going to create him to please the students, which they obviously did, he should spend most of his time helping the cheering of the student section on the opposite side of the gym from the bounce house, not hanging around small, terrified children. I quickly plucked Elijah out of the bounce house (no way he was getting out of there on his own), and carried my clinging little monkey back up the 20 million steps to the nose bleed section. Did I mention he weighs about 45 pounds?

Later that night Pop Pop tried to talk to Elijah about Victor. We've all had this conversation with him over the past year and a half. He understands what a costume is, and that there is a person in there but liking Victor has to be on his terms.

"Did you have fun at the game, Elijah?" Pop Pop asked him.
"Yeah, but I don't like Victor."
"Well, Victor is nice. Someday you'll like him."
"But he makes this face,"  Elijah said.

"I'd like him better if he made this face."

So there you have it, Victor. Those are his terms. Smiling on the inside just isn't going to cut it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Knot Defeated

Every now and then there is something rather small that begins to get the better of me, and I refuse to let it. However, while I am busy refusing defeat, I spiral downward into an angry, muttering-under-my-breath obsession, which almost never leads to victory.

Last night was not one of my finer moments. 'Tis the season for crochet, and I have been doing a lot of it lately. I have many projects with deadlines this time of year, and I hate wasting my time on a stubborn skein of yarn. That's right, I call it a "skein" no matter how dorky, nerdy, old that makes me sound. By stubborn, I mean that one skein of yarn that absolutely refuses to unravel in an orderly fashion, the kind that you have to untie, and de-knot every couple of stitches.

I began the scarf sometime around the end of Grey's Anatomy, so, let's say 9:45 pm, for the sake of a timeline here. I had only gotten through the first row when I noticed that the opposite end of the yarn was rapidly twisting and wrapping around the yarn I was trying to stitch with. This may not make any sense to most of you, but it was incredibly annoying. Every few stitches I had to go back and unravel and untwist the back end of the yarn. I finally became so frustrated with it that I was determined to fix it. I foolishly thought that if I just pulled the end out the other side, the twisting and knotting would cease. That seems simple enough, right?

See, it began looking like this:

There's a nice little string poking out at you, fooling you into believing that if you just pull on it, it will come and unravel nicely while you stitch. However when I pulled and stitched, the skein began collapsing tightly into itself as though some unseen suction had a hold of my yarn, or perhaps the yarn had it's own gravitational pull. Hard to say, really. I wish I had taken pictures of the whole process, but alas, I was in my angry, muttering-under-my-breath, obsessed mode, and therefore was frozen in my seat untangling two different ends of yarn, and trying to do so without taking apart the work I had already done on the scarf.

Jelani finally took it from me part way through Private Practice, so around 10:30 pm (yes, I keep track of time with my evening shows), and he was able to, by the grace of God, unravel the back half and get it balled up. So at around 11:30, I was left with a ball of yarn at one end, a quarter of a scarf at the other end, and a lap-full of knots in the middle. around midnight, Jelani insisted I go to bed. I refused. This knotted yarn represented all of my unfinished, scrapped projects, and every other knotted yarn that I eventually took the scissors to. I would not be defeated. He went to bed, and I persisted on, moving my ball through each knot. With every movement I thought for sure I'd reached the point where I could just pull and it would unravel, but instead, I found the knots getting smaller and smaller, and more difficult to move my ball through.

By 1:00 am my butt was numb, and when I realized my feet hurt, I looked down to find that all my toes were swollen. I've officially turned into a little old lady who needs to get up and walk around every 30 minutes to keep the blood flowing. But I still didn't move.

1:33 am was the time of victory!

I had sat through half of the evening news, reruns of The Simpsons, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, and Friends, and half of the second airing of Conan, and I finally had a beautiful ball of yarn with a string attached to my quarter scarf; no knots!

I wobbled to bed on my ballooned feet, got a whopping 6 hours of sleep, got my chores done this morning, and sat down to tell the world of my victory, when Elijah came to me with his Play-Dough; "Mommy, will you make me a ball?"

Too exhausted to do anything but sit and stitch, and with yarn-burn on my fingers (smaller, more paper-cut-esque rope burn), I cannot bring myself to touch the Play-Dough. I reluctantly concede defeat.

Nasty Knotted Yarn: 1                         Exhausted Yarn-Burned Mommy: 0

Well, played, yarn, well played.