This weekend, the MOG was out somewhere in the wilds of Ohio, ministering the gospel to the savages, and I decided to take the kids to a festival. Think less Lollapalooza and more trade show. Still, I knew there would be bouncy houses and candies galore and general good times could be had.
I started assembling clothes a couple of hours before we had to leave, because I’ve had these kids for a while now. About half of them can dress themselves now, but if I want to look like we have a house with doors and a roof, then I have to pick the clothes myself. This is how it goes: I lay the clothes on the couch. If I blink, Tristan throws them somewhere. Just somewhere. Let me remind you that I have been at Hades’ gate for this fortnight and there is a preciously limited supply of unpeed pants around here. The laundry, it beckons, but I say NO. So I keep assembling and he keeps throwing, and it’s like spitting in a tornado, but I can’t quit, because I’m the grownup. “Here,” I say, “Play with the eggs, or this steak knife.” Once he’s distracted, I carry on. Step 2 is shoes, and it is here that I lose my salvation on a daily basis. Can anyone explain to me how we only have one of each shoe, except the ones that have been lost for so long that they’re too small… we have like 4 of each of those. 45 degrees outside, I muse. So flip-flops are okay, then? Having been the recipient of many a judgy-eye in my day, I decide against them. Just go time-lapse here and imagine the sun rising and falling, leaves changing colors, despots coming to power and then being rescued out of sewers in their undershirts, etc. Let that reel run for about an hour, and by the end of the age, I will have 4 pairs of matching, semi-fitting, seasonally appropriate shoes.
I try to time the donning of the garb, right after the messy food and I always fail, because inevitably someone will snag a little snack out of the trash or decide to make a baby powder shower in the backyard, and so whatever I put them in looks like they went through the sewer with Saddam. When my children remember me, when I am old, it will be me, with a perplexed and disgusted expression, holding their soiled shirt 6 inches from my nose and saying, “What in the…. how?“
Like a conductor, I lead the dressing, “Come here, put this on, that’s backwards, it’s still backwards, come over here, come here to me, come over where I am, quit crying because I can’t reach your buttons from here, that’s inside out now, how? come here and those are your brother’s pants, they’re your brother’s pants, I know because they come to your knees… just take them off and come here, you, no, you. Are you dressed? What happened to your shoes? You had your shoes a minute… come over here. Are you poopy? Of course you are. Can anyone hand me the wipes? Where are your shoes? Come. here. now. Okay, forget it, forget everything. Christmas is cancelled. We’re never getting a dog. Come. HERE.”
Then I have to get them in the car, into car seats, into seat belts, where they inevitably poop and lose a shoe. As we pull out, the car is full of screaming, chaos and noise. This is a dumb idea, I think. This is my dumbest idea ever. Like magic, though, when we pull up to the festival, everyone is awestruck. It’s 45 degrees outside, and I can’t feel my soul, but I stand outside bouncy houses and collect swag from all the exhibit booths, and they get their faces painted. R2 looks like he’s on the verge of a seizure, he’s so cold, but he’s smiling from ear to ear and so we push it a little more. GIANT DOGS. I’m in a crowd of people with my little crew, breathing in the frigid air and living together. We climb on a tiny train and go around and around the parking lot, getting progressively number in the cold, but they could ride all day, the three of them sharing a seatbelt and me, trying to hold Tristan down. Finally, I make an executive decision that R2 is too cold and we file into China Dragon. It’s me and the 4 of them, and we share a couple of plates and thaw, and I’m struck with so much fullness, so much richness.
It was a noisy, cold, chaotic, imperfect perfect day.