The other day, my friend and neighbor, Toby, and I decided to take our children to the park. You know, to kick off summer. We were excited about how easy this venture was going to be, especially because Toby's two youngest children were with their grandparents, so we would have four girls total, aged 3 to 9. Piece of cake.
The park is several blocks from our house, and it was a beautiful day. We set out. We'd walked about seven minutes, and Elaine fell down. Hard. There was blood on her knee. "Mamaaaaa! Carry meeeee!" she wailed. OK, I can carry a 30-lb pre-schooler to the park.
Then Lucy, who has inherited my innate grace and dexterity, fell over...what? A blade of grass? An ant? Her own feet? and scraped her knee. "Mom," she whispered, her lip quivering. "Could you maybe carry me?" OK, I cannot carry a 30-lb pre-schooler and a 44-lb kindergartner to the park. Hanging on to my belt loop had to suffice for her (which makes carrying a 30-lb pre-schooler that much easier).
Toby's daughters, Rachel and Anna, scampered ahead, untrammeled by genetic clumsiness. They had fun hiding in the bushes and then hiding behind a fence. Until Rachel fell through the fence and dislodged one of the beams (fence posts? slats? Not sure. City girl here.) Toby, Anna, and I hastily tried to repair the people's fence while Rachel nursed her scraped leg.
Toby offered to carry Elaine the rest of the way, and we finally made it to the park where we hit the fountain immediately for drinks and water splashes for all of our wounds. We made our way toward the playground equipment.
"I have to go to the bathroom," said Rachel.
There are no bathrooms at the park.
Toby said, "Here's my idea. I'll run home with Rachel, let her go to the bathroom, then we'll bring the van back with us."
"You are brilliant," I answered.
Toby came back with the van and bottles of water for all of us. Anna went to the van to get the water.
"It's locked, Mom!" she said. "I need the keys."
When she came back with the water, Toby held out her hand for the keys.
"They're in the van," Anna answered.
And the van was...locked.
After borrowing a wire hanger from someone who lives by the park and managing to hook, not the door lock but the keys that were sitting cozily on the seat, Toby and I solved that crisis.
"Let's keep the wire hanger in the car, just in case this happens again," we said. Clearly, we were not rational at that point.
We walked back to where the girls were happily playing.
"I need..." I started. "Some wine?" finished Toby helpfully. "And a big bar of chocolate," I added.
Hilarity finally set in on our way home (in the comfort of the unlocked van).
"Let's go to the park again SOON!" I suggested. "We just need to remember knee pads, helmets, first aid kits, and strollers."
"Don't forget portable bathrooms, water, chocolate, and wine!" Toby added.
"What are we, AMATEURS?" we laughed. "We've only been at this mothering thing for six and nine years! Did we really think we could just show up at a park, on foot, with our kids?"
So, look for us at a park this summer. And feel free to borrow any of our stuff if you need it.