Sunday, July 08, 2007

The hat wars

Iyyar hates hats. He doesn't like winter hats, he doesn't like things with hoods, and he most certainly and definitively does not like any of the summer sun hats that Imma cruelly and unreasonably insists he wear on any outing during daylight hours when the UV index is above, oh, 5 or so. Since it's been stuck at 9 for the last two months, we've been having a number of disagreements on this front lately.

Barak, back in the day, felt the same way about hats, but eventually, after enough iterations of Barak removes hat, Imma replaces it, repeat, learned helplessness took over and he was okay with the hat. These days, he has a very cool firetruck hat, and often wears it around the house on his own. Iyyar does not seem to be coming to any kind of similar state. The invariable routine whenever we leave the house is that I put on the hat, he takes it off, I put it back on, he takes it back off and flings it on the ground. I stop the stroller again, put it back on again, tell him no no again, and he--you guessed it--takes it off and flings it on the ground. Again. It takes us a while to get anywhere in the stroller these days.

This morning, at around 8, I took the boys out for bagels. It's been really hot here lately and if you don't go out early in the morning, you're not going out at all, so when Barak woke up I told him that if he could get ready very very fast we could go get bagels. "First go to the French fry store?" he asked, hopefully. "No, just the bagel store. The French fry store is closed right now."

He considered this. "Iss locked?"

"Yeah, it's locked. The French fry store doesn't open until later. That's why when we go there, we go right before night-night time. Do you want to go night-night?"

Barak, alarmed: "No! Go bagel store." Pause. "When Grandma comes, then go to the French fry store."

"Right, we'll go to the French fry store when Grandma comes. Right now though let's go get bagels, okay?"


Barak got dressed, Iyyar was already dressed and ready, I got the hats and my bag together and brought down the big stroller. Stage one of the hat battle begins. Every house we pass, I look down through the window in the stroller canopy and see a hatless Iyyar. I stop the stroller, put it back on as securely as possible, and off we go. Sometimes I try it without the tie, thinking that's what's making him uncomfortable, but when I do that I don't even make it back to my side of the stroller before it's off again. Grr. Do you want sunburn and skin cancer, chas v'shalom, little boy?!

We stop at the corner grocery for tissues--we ran out over Shabbos--and a bottle of water. We go to the bagel store. Mini bagels for Barak and Iyyar, an everything bagel with tomato and cream cheese for me. Barak eats and watches the people; Iyyar eats and watches Barak watch the people. A good time is generally being had by all, until I notice Iyyar shove a piece of bagel the size of a very large grape into his mouth. Choking hazard and all--I reach in with the Choking Hazard Removal Finger and scoop it out.

I swear to you he gave me the most deliberate dirty look I have ever seen. It was absolutely, "Now that was a really rotten trick and I hope you know it!" He screamed and wailed, all while fixing me with a glare that would have been alarming if it had been on the face of anyone over two feet tall. As it was, though, it was just really, really funny, and I couldn't help it. I laughed. He didn't like that much either.

On the way out I spied a sign for a garage sale, starting in ten minutes, another couple of blocks away in the opposite direction from home. It promised "tons of toys." Hmm. It was already 10 am, and getting hotter and hotter. I considered. Maybe they had another Little Tikes car, to replace the one foully smashed by vandals a few weeks ago? I turned the stroller away from home, and toward the garage sale. Except that I turned the wrong way, because I misjudged where we were in the street numbers and wound up on the wrong side of a condo development. Grr. Thirty minutes later, we were at the garage sale, where we saw no Little Tikes items but did score, for the sum of three dollars, a Fisher-Price barn (complete with animals) and airport identical to the ones I had myself lo these thirty years. Now, imagine this: It is climbing into the nineties. We're a mile and a half from home, and I've got two kids in the double stroller, a fully occupied barn in the stroller basket and an airport terminal balanced in the lap of my three-year-old. I am soaking with sweat, and the bottle of water is almost gone. I want nothing more than to be back home in air conditioning. Now.

Iyyar, he wants to take off his hat.

So it went the whole way home, stopping and replacing the hat, stopping and replacing the hat. I don't think I am an inflexible person in general but I don't bend on the hats, and I know that if Iyyar wins a few battles he'll know what it takes to win the war. Stop and replace, stop and replace. Drip, drip, drip.

Two blocks from home, I hear Barak. "Imma, I can't holda airport anymore. Iss too heavy." It is heavy, and I'm surprised he managed so far. "Should I put it on top of the stroller?" "Yeah." I balance the airport on top of the stroller canopy, blocking the window and my view of Iyyar's head. But he's had his hat on for a few blocks now without any sign of resistance--maybe he's finally twigged?

We get home. It's about 11 am, and easily a hundred degrees. I take the airport and the barn and lug them up the back stairs, and come back down to get the kids and see--Iyyar, bareheaded. And the hat is nowhere to be seen

He looked right at me, put his hands on his head, and grinned. Stinker. There was no way I was going back to get it, not in that heat with the kids. And MHH was out until the afternoon.

When he did get home, though, I retraced my steps, heat or no heat. I found the hat, in the middle of the road and covered with tire marks. And guess who's going to be wearing it tomorrow morning, like it or not? You guessed it. Iyyar. If it takes a whole bottle of Elmer's, that hat is going to be on his head.

Stay tuned.

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