shooting from the hip

Today Jen and I take on the combo bus ride/park trip/open gym/downtown journey with four kids – our three, plus our friend’s toddler Liv who we watch every Friday. Things are a little rough from the beginning. Two of the kiddos are rowdy, high-pitched, and annoying; one is a potty-training hassle and doesn’t look where she’s walking; and the fourth – my youngest – occupies himself at pulling fistfulls of my hair out while in the backpack and charges up steep staircases if given time out of it. We do our best to have a pleasant morning amidst the variety of challenges but by 11 AM we have had one rancid diaper change on the public restroom floor and a couple timeouts and the variety of annoying behaviors – tripping and falling, wiping noses on sleeves, clinging with their grubby paws. They are hungry, cramming raisins in their mouths, whining, mumbling, or screaming. The park has limited success at occupying them so we give up and decide to head in a caravan downtown. We finally make it down the hill past the fountain (where they crowd around doing their best to get wet and throw inappropriate items into the water) to a bakery to buy a few day old rolls for them to chew on at the bus stop. Jen is at the counter buying a roll and I corrall the three toddlers in the tiny, tiny space with the water cooler. By the time I have Chance and Liv nicely sipping their water and out from underfoot I notice Sophie has filled her glass twice and drained it and neatly returned it upside down to the counter. Gross! I help her remove it to the bussing tray and snatch one of the other kids from ambling into some annoyed laptop-toting Trustifarian’s way.

Jen makes her way over and we start herding them out the door, promising them food when we get to the bus stop. “I resent them all!” she whispers fervently to me, and I almost spit out the mouthful of iced mocha I’m still desperately sucking on. Yeah. I know what she means.

One bus and twenty-five minutes later we finally, finally get home intact and unspoiled. Jen & Chance head home; the girls hold hands and we slowly make our way up the remaining hill to my home. Nels has stopped pulling my hair at least. We get home and I banish the kids into their room so I can have some space and get their lunch ready (yes, they eat all morning long, have you noticed?). A few minutes after the table is set and everyone is seated Abbi and Rosemary arrive. After lunch we walk the three out to their car and bid happy weekend. House empty of guests, I breathe a sigh of relief. Wipe the table, stack dishes, clean up The Boy. I assure a stellar nap from my daughter by telling her if she sleeps well we’re going to the drive in – the first time this season.

Thank. God. I have a partner who comes home at night. I need my playtime too, you know? And someone who can at the very least take care of his own bodily functions and shoelaces and such.

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