Monday, November 29, 2010

another reason I am thankful that my children have so many clothes

About once a week I need to take Ian and Mira with me to pick up Ada from school. The most direct route requires climbing a flight of stairs on the way to Ada's classroom. If I want to take Ian and Mira inside in their stroller, I have to go around to the far side of the school, past the entrance nearest to Ada's classroom, and back down the hallways packed with elementary school kids trying to get out of the building. Have you ever seen salmon swimming upstream? It is a little like that, except that I am the salmon and the kids are the current.

To avoid the stroller-derby, I often bring a baby backpack along and, leaving the stroller at a bike rack, I transfer one kid to the pack and let the other walk with me up the stairs and down the hall to Ada's class. At first this worked fine, but now the kid in the pack gets annoyed that she or he is not the one granted freedom. (And frankly, the walker gets annoyed when I keep steering him or her away from all the fun things in Ada's classroom.) Getting the kids back into the stroller after we get Ada is also a problem.

The other day Mira lost the coin toss and was on my back while Ian got to roam. Mira complained the whole time I had her in the pack and both she and Ian were less than excited when I suggested they get back into the stroller for the walk home. Luckily, Ada decided she would like to walk with Mira.

The two girls took off down the block while Ian and I moved at a more leisurely pace. (He decided he needed to touch each pole we passed, yelling "pole!" and smiling broadly.) When we got to the end of the block, I had to negotiate two toddlers, the stroller and one "big" kid. Oh, and the actual corner was blocked off that day, as it was under construction to make it more accessible (workers were putting in a yellow rumble strip*). Ada had Mira's hand, while I held Ian's and pushed the stroller. Except that Ada didn't notice that the big pile of wet leaves next to the curb hid a fair sized puddle. Mira stepped off the curb and into the leafy puddle, falling over and soaking herself. Did I mention it was cold and rainy that day?

After our collective "oh crap" moment, Ada takes over the stroller while I hold Ian's hand and carry Mira football style across the street. Safe on the sidewalk I strip Mira of her pants, shoes and socks. She does not appear upset to be covered in icy, muddy water. Nor does she mind being stripped to her diaper on a cold and rainy street corner. What she does mind is being put back into the stroller. Crazy person that I am, I think she'll be warmer (and dare I think, happier) in the stroller, cozy in a fleece wrap.  Needless to say (but I will), she is NOT happy. She screams and stiffens. Meanwhile, Ian finds a stick and starts poking a puddle. Ada alerts me to Ian's entertainments, so I ask her to make sure he stays out of the street. I shove Mira into the stroller and ignore her wails while I strap her in. Looking up, I see Ada (on the sidewalk) watching Ian (in the street) happily standing in and poking a large puddle by the curb.

Alarmed, I ask Ada if I hadn't told her to keep him out of the street. "I couldn't stop him" she says. Not wanting to stop to argue, I scoop up Ian (muttering my "no street, no street" mantra) and strip off his soggy boots before shoving him in the stroller. Chaos contained (or at least limited to two wailing toddlers) we slowly make our way home, where we all change clothes and have warm snacks and drinks.

Ah, parenthood. All's well that end's well, right? This story comes to mind a lot in the weeks since it happened. I think of it especially when people sympathetically say things like "it must be so hard to be at work and missing your kids." I do miss them but I don't miss building more memories like this one.

* You really do learn something new every day. That stuff is called tactile paving, apparently.

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