My friend Jenny and I took Charlie to the mall so we could stretch our legs and spend some time together in air conditioned, SPF 1000 comfort. At Gymboree there was a TV right at stroller level playing a Thomas the Train video. Jenny parked him so he could watch, which he did leaning forward in his stroller, not blinking (for his corneas' sake it's good we never got into Baby Einstein). He must have been wondering why the TV at our house is never on and when it is (when he wakes us up at 6:00 AM and I'm not feeling so much like continuing the self-sacrifice to the point where I don't get to watch The Today Show) it is boooorrring talky talky talky because Mama! Talking TRAINS! TRAINS, that TALK! I took him out of the stroller so that he could stand up holding onto a tiny chair facing the TV while I held clothes up to his back. Another group of shoppers snickered when I said to Charlie "Isn't this a special treat?" in the voice I use when I forget other people can hear me.
He was such a good boy while we dragged him through BabyGap and Children's Place eyeing the sweet newborn clothes and cooing about how adorable Jenny's baby (expected in April or May) will look in them (and while I wistfully looked at all the tiny purple dresses and white tights from where I stood in corduroy and denim land) that we took him to the mall's indoor playground to blow off some steam. I put him on the floor and sat next to him. He took one look at the big kids and crawled into my lap, burying his face in my leg. I turned him around and held him and we watched them play for a few seconds and then he was off, as if shot from a cannon. I've seen Charlie happy before, but this kind of joy was new to me. He laughed and babbled and shrieked as he crawled across the mats. He beamed proudly while he crawled through the log-tunnel. He shrieked with excitement when I helped him go down the slide.
After about ten minutes of enthusiastically following him around clapping for him and moving him when he was about to get kicked in the head by someone on the swing I looked around and realized that the mama-protocol was to sit on the benches looking bored and vaguely hostile. They probably thought I was Charlie's nanny. Whatever.
The next event of Charlie's Big Boy Day was dinner. We went out to eat because much of our furniture is pushed into the kitchen for the carpet cleaners (who came today and sucked all of our filth through a long hose into a truck). On a whim I ordered Charlie's dinner from the kids' menu instead of bringing something familiar along. He ate a whole grilled cheese sandwich and half a bowl of mashed potatoes (and part of a straw wrapper and the edge of a cardboard coaster). With NO BIB. Woah.
I want to buy him some trucks.