Every time I take my children somewhere, I am convinced again that I am an idiot.
Don’t get me wrong. My kids are pretty well-behaved, especially considering that they are, after all, boys. Boys who, in spite of all my efforts, still are not completely domesticated yet.
Still, the average trip to, say, Wal-Mart, is kind of like trying to marshal all the clowns, the elephant, and that chick in the tutu who walks the highwire through the store without causing general mayhem and ruination. My boys are loud. They are restless. And they are too big to be in the cart, so I’m stuck with them orbiting me like two erratic and destructive satellites as I attempt to search the clearance rack for that one elusive $3 t-shirt in my size.
I try to keep them out of other people’s ways. I try to prevent them from annoying other shoppers or embarrassing themselves or me. I really do try.
I’m afraid mostly I fail.
My sons are of the opinion that clothing racks are hiding places, that shopping carts are Lightning McQueen in a clever disguise, and that the people in the store who they are discussing are entirely deaf.
“SAMMY! If you peek through here you can see silly GLASSES!!!”
“OH! That’s cool!”
“Let me see again!”
“My want another turn!”
“HAHAHAHA That lady is wearing her glasses WRONG! She isn’t very smart! She doesn’t know how to wear GLASSES!”
At this point I turn from my perusal of Wal-Mart’s finest Hannah Montana t-shirts to discover that my darling sweet wonderful children are not, as I had fondly believed, playing pretend, but are in fact making loud fun of an old lady with her reading glasses precariously settled on her rather long nose.
“BOYS!” I yelled in a hissing whisper of doom. “We do not make fun of people. We do not talk about people that way!” I looked at Ryan, who was right in front of me and who had been the instigator of this exercise in maternal humiliation. “I am not proud of you right now. You know better than that.” He hung his head and flung himself into my arms in extreme sorrow over getting caught his wrongdoings.
Soon after it was time for our Extra Fun Trip To the Wal-Mart Bathroom. I barked orders like a drill sergeant on a sugar rush. “Shut the door!” “Flush the toilet!” “Pull up your pants before you come out of the stall!” “Wash your hands!” “Use soap!” “THAT’S ENOUGH PAPER TOWELS!”
My circus satellites then noisily accompanied me to the self check-out lane, where they assisted by putting things on the belt, taking things off the belt, pushing the green button to make the belt go, and sitting on the bagging scale. “Unexpected item in bagging area,” barked the lady with the computer voice who lives in the self check-out. “Remove item and scan. Unexpected item in bag-”
Miraculously enough we made it out the door and to the van and into our booster seats without anyone getting run over or arrested.
And because they had just been so good (because, really, this was nothing, believe me), we made a trip to the splash park. I was especially happy that although I had just made them go potty, Ryan came bopping up to me and said “I have to go potty.” Mind you, the only potty available to the splash park users is a port-a-john which they clean once a decade whether it needs it or not. I sighed heavily and we trooped out to the potty where I gave Ryan explicit instructions not to touch ANYTHING that wasn’t attached to his own body. We made it back into the park, at which point Sam announced “My have to go to the bathroom.”
I am not making this up.
However, we had a very fun time, and some friends met us there so Ryan had fun splashing around with his buddy Jeremiah, and it wore them out fabulously so they took a wonderful nap.
And I took pictures.
After two hours, the boys were tired and hungry, I was sunburned, and we decided to take the circus home. So we loaded the big tent, the clowns, the man on the flying trapeze, and all the rest into the van.
Better watch out. This circus may be coming to a town near you.