Please fetch my Mouskatools
I thought I’d have longer before wading out of my depth.
Every parent remembers the day they could no longer help their kiddo with math homework (unless that’s your bread and butter, of course). My mom and dad bravely soldiered through multiplication tables, long division and algebra . . . but by the time I was struggling to gain traction in trigonometry, I received a collective shoulder shrug at home.
And hey — I get it. I was the one in a trig class, exposed to this stuff day in and day out, and I had no idea what was happening. Proofs still haunt me. Though the smart friend who sat nearby would have helped me study, I’m sure, I had a massive crush on him and was too embarrassed to ask. Total missed connection.
At 9 months old, Oliver is curious and observant. He watches our movements with wide, interested eyes, and always wants whatever you’re holding. Gas can? Broken necklace? Yesterday’s socks? Never mind that at least 10 safe toys are within reach . . . kid wants my scalding-hot tea mug. And good luck trying to distract him.
It’s become a game. Ollie has two toy remotes, but he knows when I have the “real” silver one in hand. So I’ve started using his toys to innocently “change channels” . . . and he’ll rip that noisy thing right out of my paw, immediately releasing the actual remote. Devious, but effective.
When it comes to holding Oliver’s attention for more than 30 seconds, the list of acceptable entertainment is short. He does love “The Muppets,” ABC’s current sitcom revival of Jim Henson’s classic characters. It’s actually hilarious. And good thing, too: my husband and I know all the dialogue by heart.
As a kid, I remember being surprised when my father broke out in song during our one thousandth viewing of “The Little Mermaid.” Dad gave very stirring performances. Yeah — I get it now. We have six “Muppets” episodes on our DVR, all viewed at least 20 times. Fozzie Bear and crew often greet us before work, over dinner, during that fussy afternoon period . . . I see them more than any human, that’s for sure. When Ollie caught a virus and couldn’t sleep, their snappy scenes even ser ved as a lullaby.
Miss Piggy? Decidedly less hilarious at 3 a.m. We’ve done the research.
I don’t want to give the impression that we plunk this kid down in front of the TV and disappear, of course. I mean, sometimes I do that — mostly because I never got breakfast and my vision is getting spotty. If you spend any time with young children, you know that point at which you just need a breather . . . or you’ll probably suffocate.
It’s OK. Here: have more coffee.
Because “Rainbow Connection” has become the unofficial Johnson family theme song, Spence and I have been searching for another show to keep the man occupied. I accidentally upgraded our cable and am too lazy to change it, so we have many kid-centric channels.
That’s how “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” came into our lives.
For the uninitiated, “MMC” is an animated coupling of Disney’s favorite characters — Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, etc. — who go on adventures and solve problems using their “Mouskatools.” It’s all lighthearted and painfully colorful.
Though “MMC” is no “Muppets,” Mickey and friends do get a solid 10 minutes of Ollie’s focus before he’s back to fumbling for my remote. Those baby hands are strong.
In one delightful “MMC” episode, the friends are determining shapes. Mickey — or Minnie? Goofy? I’m losing my foothold in reality — asks the audience to name the shape of a boxy clay item.
“Square!” I called from the couch.
Spencer eyeballed me strangely. Even Oliver looked disapproving. “It’s a cube!” said Mickey. I frowned. Next, a familiar item appeared. What shape was it? “Triangle!” I tried. Mickey’s correction was painfully swift. Cruel, even. “It’s a pyramid!”
My husband watched this scene with good humor. At this point, I thought these were trick questions — but had to stay the course. A circular pot materialized . . . and before I could further embarrass myself, Spencer chimed in with “cylinder.”
This was elementary knowledge, apparently — but I was genuinely stumped.
Should be nice and awkward when Ollie enters school.
Hopefully my Mouskatools turn up before then.