The boys ran to the water exhibit, drawn like moths to the light. Little Legs grabbed a green boat and began to cruise it along the length of the tub with revving engine sounds. He cozied up next to a little boy who was appropriately covered with a yellow, rubber smock. The boat experienced turbulence which created a few small, shirt-soaking waves. Luckily, Captain L. Legs was at the helm and guided the vessel through the storm and back to safety in the harbor.

The boy in a smock watched wide eyed until I guided the seafaring folk a few steps away. Only then was the boy able to regain the use of his limbs and continue splashing his overly involved parents who breathed audible sighs of relief when we moved. Meanwhile, Baby Brother gripped the side of the table and tried to pull himself up to watch the action. He slipped and fell, got back up and tried again and again.

“Let me give you a boost,” I offered and picked up Baby Brother.

He squealed in a way that made another mother raise an eyebrow and pucker her lips in is-this-an-abduction-situation kind of way. Baby Brother kicked and wiggled his way back down to the ground where he resumed his efforts to watch the water activities on his own, without success. I tried not to take it personally, but these attempts at independence/thwarted love did sometimes sting.

“If only there was another stool around here,” I said casting my semi-hurt feelings aside and looking left and right.

I got down on one knee and checked under the table where I saw more than a few sets of big and little legs and feet.

A particularly large shoe was planted firmly on the ground, while the other was hiked up on a tiny, red stool of the perfect height for Baby Brother to see over the edge. The owner of the leg continued to stand on the stool, oblivious to the need of a child who continued to jump and fall, right next to him.  

The reality that existed in the face of his phone was more interesting that the one at his feet. I sincerely hoped for a second that he would lose his balance and fall into the water for a cool and refreshing wake-up call back to the real world, also thus relinquishing his hold on the stool.

Nothing happened, despite my unwell-wishes, and so we went onto the next station of hands-on learning, germ sharing and parents secretly judging one another.  

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