Saturday, August 05, 2017

Adventures in Public Places

This 4-kid thing is kinda wiping me out. We have home life figured out. Jonah and Lincoln get their naps, the older boys get their video games, Legos for everyone, and Jeff's home in the evenings to help hold a baby so I can eat one meal with both of my hands. 
A lot of my time is spent plopped on the couch instagramming pictures of Jonah's thighs to my mom and sister, trying to get their validation that he is chunking up. They're still unconvinced.
So then I send them pictures of Jonah crying. Because even his cry is cute when his mouth frowns just so.
And then they get mad at me for sending a crying picture so I send this to prove the cry was momentary.
Plopping myself on the couch to instagram pictures of Jonah is how I recover from any time we have to leave the house. Guys. It's a challenge. Every outing includes at least 1 (but usually more) colossal meltdown, 1 person just generally grumpy about whatever supposed-to-be-fun-thing we're attempting, and 1 baby in each arm for the better portion of any excursion.
We had 3 weeks of archery which was actually one of our more successful summer endeavors. Eli was super into it while Carson...shot the bow 1-2 times at the start of every class and then promptly nested himself underneath the shade tent for the rest of class.
Here's that splash pad we went to with friends. You know. The one where the kids decided they hate splash pads and prefer to play at the playground across the street in the blistering, midday heat. This has been my summer. I plan things I think will be so fun and everyone will enjoy. I pack snacks, shade, sunscreen, water, diapers, wipes, everything imaginable to have a successful, happy experience. And then at least one of my little boys is inevitably mad, grumpy, miserable, and determined to bring the rest of us down with him. 

So on this day, we spent an hour over by the splash pad while my kids stared at it in disgust and instead preferred to play on a set of bleachers. ??? Finally they convinced me they'd be happy at the park across the street so I lugged snacks, shade, sunscreen, water, diapers, wipes, everything imaginable and we trekked over to the playground where they did in fact finally decide to have a happy experience. Cheers to that.
Jeff went down to his sister's house one weekend and left me with the babies. Lincoln and I didn't quite know what to do with each other when everyone else had abandoned us. We spent many minutes staring at each other as we were both used to a lot more commotion than what we could offer each other. I finally had to put on some music to make it through the quiet.
We had cousins in town when the older boys returned and I had bought some white bread for french toast. We usually only have wheat bread lying around, so Eli was eager to grab a piece of the good stuff when he noticed it on the counter. He took it to the table and broke it up into little pieces. I asked him why he did that and then he got really embarrassed and covered it up. My theory is he typically eats that bread in church for the sacrament and eating it in little pieces was the way he thought he was supposed to eat that kind of bread.
This is how I find Jonah every morning. He's recently started breaking out of his swaddle and clutching his hands together, and he's always eager to smile at whoever greets him to rescue him from his crib.
One day Lincoln didn't want to wear pants. So he didn't. But he did want to smile.
The one outing we have down is church. Probably because everyone knows what to expect and Jeff is there to help. We do best under those circumstances.

One day while making cookies I started singing "Follow the Prophet" and the boys eagerly jumped in. I was surprised they knew the words and it warmed my heart to hear their little voices join in with me.
The cookies were for a family dinner at my aunt's house. Eli was living the summer dream with his sunglasses, flip flops, and hammock lounging.
Jonah thought Eli was so cool he wanted to be just like him.
Cue splash pad disappointment #2. We went to a new, huge splash pad with friends that had great potential for an awesome morning. I made the arm-exhausting decision to baby wear Jonah instead of grabbing a stroller for him which would have been fine...had Lincoln allowed me to put him down for more than 1 minute the entire first hour we were there. I finally convinced him to let me put him down for lunch only to have him finally warm up to the water right as we were getting ready to leave. Then I had to hunt down Lincoln, grab him, so I had 2 babies in my arms again, and then I realized Carson was lost. I run around with the double baby situation hunting Carson when Lincoln requests I put him down so he can go on a baby slide. I put him down. I find Carson.

Now Lincoln is missing. Eli finds Lincoln all the way at the top of a huge slide that has 2 flights of stairs going up to it. I climb the stairs, grab Lincoln, and then have to make my way down the staircase with a line full of kids who I, despite my best efforts not to, hit nearly all of their heads with each of my childrens' dangling feet. It was a mess. And I have forever written off splash pads unless Jeff is with me to help wrangle the children.
But you know, since all of our other outings were going so well, why not hit the mall?
The older boys had a birthday party at a Nerf gun place at the mall, otherwise I never would have attempted such a daring feat. I learned from our splash pad experience just the day before that a stroller would help free up my hands. So I brought a stroller. Good thinking, mom. You're one step ahead of 'em this time.

So I was wearing Jonah, pushing Lincoln in the stroller, and on my way to drop off the older boys at the party. I'm standing in line because Carson wasn't wearing socks and I had just discovered he allegedly needed socks to shoot a Nerf gun which still feels like a scam to me but whatever I bought the unnecessary socks because it was going to allow me an hour and a half of nice, quiet, peaceful mall perusing with only 2 kids instead of 4 which would surely feel like a vacation.

Right as I turn to embark on my blissful shopping excursion, Jonah gargles in a way I've never heard him gargle before and then he completely puked all over us. Down my shirt. On the floor. All over him. Everywhere. Not spit up. It smelled like puke. It was puke. There was a lot of it. It wasn't pleasant.

And of course I didn't bring wipes because I had convinced myself we would be able to have a perfect outing without so much as a dirty diaper, so I'm scrambling to figure out how to clean up this mess while Lincoln's in the stroller screaming he wants to go do whatever he sees the big boys preparing to do with those awesome guns, while me and Jonah are drenched and stinky and people are staring at me like, "WHY would you come to THE MALL with 4 little BOYS?!?" Well I WOULDN'T HAVE but I was TRYING to be a good mom and let my kids go to a fun birthday party and how was I supposed to know one of them would puke on me and we can all agree I could use a new shirt now so let this frazzled mom pretend she has things under control long enough to at least change out of her barf shirt before anyone passes any more judgement.

The play place. Thank goodness for the play place, I told myself. Forget shopping. I'll just let Lincoln play as long as he wants at the play place and we will make it out alive.

So just how long DID Lincoln want to play at the play place? 2.3 minutes. Then he started darting out towards the escalators. While I was nursing Jonah. Because remember how he threw up the whole meal I had just fed him? There I am trying to modestly feed a baby whilst trying to convince my 2-year-old escape artist that the big, fun toys were more appealing than the moving stairs.

Then I throw Jonah in the stroller and decide to just follow Lincoln around the mall wherever he wanted to go. The escalators. That's where he wanted to go. But I couldn't go on the escalators because I had the stroller. THE STROLLER! The thing that I brought to free my hands was now an extra thing I had to worry about. You got me again, expectations!

Then Jonah starts fussing and wants to get out. I think, "Oh. I could go buy some pretzel bites." My mom and i used to always buy pretzels when we went shopping at the mall and I thought it would be cute and nostalgic and my last chance at keeping Lincoln occupied. We buy the pretzels. With waters. So now I'm juggling 2 babies, stroller, pretzel bites, and 2 waters. I am not sure how I got everything to the table, but I saw at least one person give me the, "Should I help her" and "Is that throw up on her shirt? Ew. Gross." Stare. Same person, one progressive stare.

We sit with the pretzels. Lincoln goes for his water with the excitement level that made me realize he thought his water was going to be soda. Then the meltdown that solidified my theory ensued. He wanted "JUICE!" and he let everyone know it. Staring lady continued to stare like, "Well. HOW are you going to handle THIS?!" I stared at Lincoln with the same question.

I handled it by shoving endless cinnamon and sugar pretzel bites in front of him. It finally worked.

Momentary peace fell upon us. Thank you mall pretzel tradition for the magic I never knew you had...

Wait...did my mom take me to the pretzel place because I was exhausting and she needed a break?!?
We've come full circle here. Or full twisty mess of a pretzel.

I eventually crammed Lincoln back into the stroller, threw Jonah back in the wrap (now Jonah is screaming because he's tired and only likes to sleep in his crib). And I walked with a screaming baby all the way back to the Nerf gun place.

Where the host of the party graciously offered to help me out to my car because we clearly had a lot goin' on. I assured her the scene she was beholding was an everyday occurrence and while we are probably not fully equipped to deal with it, we will likely survive yet another failed attempt at acclimating ourselves back into society.
Oh and the party was right during nap time for an extra twist so from the hours of 5:00 - 6:00 I got to hear from Lincoln that he, "Doesn't want his body."
And now you know what led me to be a hermit for the rest of my life. Or at least until all my kids are in school and I can finally get that new shirt I so desperately peace...wait. Come to think of it, my mom insists she likes shopping alone. The pretzel knot thickens.


Kim said...

Your little baby smiling up at you with his hands clutched is SO ADORABLE!! As is the photo of the four tie-wearing, porch-sitting boys!

You gotta know I would love the mall story. So descriptive! So hilarious! So entertaining! For me at least. It is probably still a nightmare for you to relive. Lots of laugh-out-loud sentences. Love the pretzel memory tied in. This is a gem of a story!

Rebecca said...

Haha! This was the perfect synopsis of what being a mother to four small kids is all about. From another mother of four not-quite-as-small kids - you did magnificently. You spread joy by making everyone glad they weren't you, so there's that to be proud of. :)