Please fetch my Mouska­tools

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

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.

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