Home » This Play Group Is On. . .Like Green On a Lime Jello Dino

This Play Group Is On. . .Like Green On a Lime Jello Dino

So recall about a month ago we received an invite to a playgroup from one of our fabulous neighbors?

I was out of sorts about it.  Because well, we’re US.  And our neighbor is stunning and seemingly unflappable and well, just seems so much more with it than I am.

Of course, practically everyone is more with it than I am.  . .But trust me, she even hosts a play group so clearly, she’s at the top of her parenting game.

Anyway, the morning of play group, I awoke at the crack of dawn to make sure I could prepare my peace-offering (aka the lime jello dinosaur Jigglers), shower, and generally be prepared to be on time and giving the false impression of cool competence.

Things were going remarkably smoothly until we were just about to leave the house.

Preparing to leave the house while keeping two kids calm NEVER goes smoothly.  It always takes twice as long as planned – no matter the amount of preparation and I always leave the house a sweaty disheveled mess from the endeavor.

And right on cue, Teddy flipped out. . .And Mac hit him.  I rushed Teddy to the guest bed and flipped on the overhead lights to keep him occupied while I placed Mac in time out.

Then I asked Mac to help me get his shoes on because we were going to visit the neighbors.

“ALL DONE VISITING NEIGHBORS!” Mac screamed immediately throwing himself on the floor.

“No, honey, no.  We’re not all done.  It’s going to be fun.  You have to trust me.  It’s going to be great.  We’ll finish getting dressed and we’ll take a walk down the block and see the neighbors.”

“ALL DONE VISITING NEIGHBORS!” Mac shouted again banging his feet against the wall.

“How ’bout you think about it for a few minutes?” I asked and raced to the other room to get Teddy ready.

Think of a bribe err incentive, Deni to get this kid out of the house without everyone losing their shit.  Think.  Think.  

Of course my go-to is a small handful of MnM’s when things get really hairy. But I didn’t want Mac rolling into a house full of kids with candy.  I didn’t think the other parents would appreciate it.


Sweat was rolling down my back and the collar of my oxford was getting limp as I wrestled super chunk Teddy into a slightly too small onesie.

ABORT!  ABORT!  You cannot abort!  You’ve invested way too much time into this little outing.  Figure it out.

Teddy ready, I marched back to the living room.  My eyes searched the room desperately for an appropriate “incentive.”

And then I remembered I had recently read that toddlers are all about control.  So if you need their help, it’s a good idea to allow them some degree of control.


“Mac!  Mac!” I said in a spirited tone.  “Can you please help me?  I need your help to finish getting ready.  Do you want to wear the brown shoes or the blue ones?”

Mac stopped his incessant whining and eagerly eyed the shoes.

“Brown shoes?”

“You bet, big guy!  Now, do you want to wear the gray hoodie or the blue fleece?”

“Gray hoodie?  Absolutely wear gray hoodie?”

“Absolutely, we CAN wear gray hoodie!” I practically shouted.  Never mind that bastard hoodie was in his closet another flight of stairs away.

“Wait right here, I’ll get the hoodie.  And after we put the hoodie on, it will be time to take a walk to visit the neighbors.”

I barely breathed while waiting for the reaction.

“After we put on the hoodie, we take a walk to the neighbors?”

“Yes,” I said wiping sweat from my upper lip.


I’m pretty sure I blacked out in a state of shock that my little tactic actually EFFING WORKED because the next thing I knew I was in neighbor’s home asking if she wanted us to remove our shoes while attempting to discreetly oogle some delish massive gray crown she had above her newly installed kitchen cabinetry.

We were some of the first ones there and Mac immediately parked himself on the sofa and started yammering on about “toots.”

Really?  Despite your extensive vocabulary, all you can do is announce to the room people are flatulent?  

I tried to ignore his antics but he just wouldn’t stop.

Finally, I mentioned to him that perhaps announcing to the room that Teddy, Tilghman, and Daddy tooted isn’t using good manners.  And I had to cut him off before he started making that fog horn sound he uses to announce “Mommy tooted.”

I attempted to redirect his attention to a book.

This worked for approximately 16 seconds.

Then he burped.

Really?  Really?!

The room went silent.  All eyes on Mac.

“Excuse me, please!” He shouted.  “Mac made a little burp-ee.  Excuse me.”

Everyone chuckled.

Oh thank goodness.  He used his manners!

I made my way to the sofa and quietly thanked him for using such good manners.  I also quietly thanked God.  

Meanwhile, the place was filling up.  I had expected maybe 6 moms and 12 kids.  I’ll bet there were at least double that estimate.  The noise level was astonishing.     Mac isn’t a huge fan of noisy places, so I kept a close eye on him but he seemed to be fine.

The other Moms were all very welcoming.  Still, I was sweating profusely.  Play group was scheduled to last two hours – a lot of time to completely embarrass ourselves.

I was braced for the worst but as the morning went along, nothing terrible happened.  Teddy slept the entire time and Mac basically did what every other kid there was doing:  ransacked the joint.

And as I started to relax just a little – well as much as a control freak like I can relax watching 24 toddlers dismantle and entire house – I started to notice a few other things. . .

For one, Neighbor had a tube of mascara on a credenza near a mirror in her living room.  Hmmmm.  I have a tube of mascara in the secretary in our living room.  I keep it there because it’s usually the only make up I have time to apply before leaving the house and I frequently don’t have time to sneak to a bathroom to apply it.  Could Neighbor keep her mascara on the credenza for this very same reason?  

There was a heavy duty mat by the front door for boots and shoes.  We also have a boot tray by the front door.  Neighbor mentioned usually they didn’t mind tracking sand and stuff through the house but now that they had kids it seemed to make more sense to just take off their shoes.  Us too!  

There was a bench practically overflowing with mittens and hats and all the other gear necessary to get two kids outside in bad weather.  I had just recently rigged up a wardrobe in our living room specifically for all of our outdoor gear.

“Hey, where’s your table?” One Mom asked Neighbor, surveying an empty area in the middle of the main floor.

“It’s in the basement.  We just haven’t brought it back upstairs.” Answered neighbor.

We also ditched a ton of furniture in the past couple years.  And my little drop-leaf, occasional dining table is currently in OUR basement.


We’re not so different.  She’s not perfect.  No one’s perfect.  She’s a great Mom.  And she’s certainly smart and beautiful but maybe it was silly of me to assume she was “out of my league.”

Play group was wrapping up and Mac was starting to protest our exit.  As I struggled to get his shoes back on with Teddy tied to me in the baby carrier, I hissed at Mac quietly, “If you help me, when we get home, you may have 4 MnM’s.”

“MnM’s!” Mac shouted.  “First we walk home and then we have MnM’s!”

I felt my face flush.  It was a cheap bribe.  These other Mothers probably wouldn’t have taken such an easy way out. . .

And then I glanced up.  In front of me, all over Neighbor’s beautiful yellow living room wall, was a massive tangle of pencil marks.  One of her kids wrote all over the wall!

Mac's handiwork on a table. . .Ugh.

Mac’s handiwork on a table. . .Ugh.

Instantly, I felt better about my little bribe and myself in general.  Every Mother in this room was just as good as every other one.  And despite our diverse outward appearances and backgrounds, we were an awful lot alike. . .

Children:  The ultimate equalizer.












2 Responses to “This Play Group Is On. . .Like Green On a Lime Jello Dino”

  1. Mary Ann says:

    Ah and blessed were the magic marker stripes behind the recliner,finally disappeared when new carpeting after the teen years!!!

    • admin says:

      I keep saying there needs to be an insurance product for this sort of thing. You buy the insurance when the kid is born and on their 18th birthday you get to burn the entire damned place and the insurance covers all replacements. . .