As much as I love being out and about with the tribe, I truly loathe days when I have more than one lengthy errand to run. While it’s fun to sing silly songs (oh, please, click the link, but put down your drink first) in the van with the tiny people, and while we all love compliments from strangers on their cuteness and general good conduct, it greatly diminishes my face time with them when I have to visit both a big-box store and a grocery store in the same day. It also interferes with meals, naps, and storytime, which is sort of the holy trinity of keeping the peace in our humble home.
We are also currently attempting to get Beanie potty trained. Of our four, Beanie is the only one who ever got to be “the baby” for more than a year; what’s more, she shares the habit with her sister — and both of her parents — of becoming so absorbed in things that interest her that she completely detaches from the world around her. That particular double play has made getting Beanie to consistently answer calls of nature by using the pink princess potty that plays (so help me) “Trumpets Voluntary” that she picked out all by herself, or the Tinkerbell ring for the big potty that she also picked out all by herself, an exercise in frustration for all involved. Timers, candy, bribes, stickers and about three dozen other tactics, including me putting her on the pot and insisting that she stay there until she eliminates have all proven fruitless. She uses the potty when she’s not doing something interesting, and poops in her pullup if she feels like she’s not getting enough attention (she will actually tell you this if you ask her). We’re at about a 70% success rate now, and believe me when I tell you that is a leaps-and-bounds improvement. Days when we have to be out for a significant amount of time, other than at a relative’s house or playgroup, usually result in setbacks.
We had to visit a local discount retailer this morning, one that I genuinely loathe, but which happened to be the only place within 50 miles where I could procure some supplies I desperately needed to get our pantry semi-organized. Bugaboo was also in need of a reasonably priced tee-ball glove, and Beanie needed shinguards for her rookie soccer season. Last year’s experience taught me that if one is in need of sports equipment for little girls under 40 inches tall, one is well-advised to get the equipment before sending in the registration forms. Luckily, we were able to get in and out pretty quickly, and made it home before Beanie needed to use the facilities. I sent the girls off to the potty as soon as we got in our front door, heard two potties flush while I was changing Mr. Man and Baby Guy, and figured I had it made. Moments later, as four sweet little faces were busily being stuffed with baked potato soup and warm bread (Baby Guy is a potato freak in good standing), the aroma that is familiar to parents worldwide wafted across the kitchen, prompting the also familiar query, “Okay, who stinks?”
“Beanie does!” Bugaboo helpfully offered. “I can smell her from here. You should probably tell her it’s not nice to poop in her pants.”
Lord, have mercy.
I changed the Beanie, made sure everyone ate enough lunch to avoid a mid-afternoon clamor for Pez, Cheez-Its, or pretzels, put the guys down for their nap (a nap Mr. Man never took, as he has recently discovered it is infinitely more fun to jump on his mattress than to sleep thereupon), poured the girls a little more milk, and settled in on the couch to do my mid-day weather check. The day was sufficiently warm that I thought it might be advisable to spend a little time at the park this afternoon . . . and then the Weather Channel broke my heart. Snow in the forecast for Sunday.
I love snow. I don’t mind driving in it, playing in it, or shoveling it. What I do mind is dealing with panic buyers at the grocery store the day before snow is forecast; I’m assuming that their pathological fear of frozen stuff falling from the sky momentarily erases the concepts of good manners and common sense from their brains. The combination of a grocery store replete with snow-panicked people and four children under the age of 5 is one of five things that absolutely terrify me; the other three involve literally going to Hell, falling into a sinkhole, getting Zizi mad at me, and being stuck in a scene from an Indiana Jones movie.
Sighing, I realized that we would be making a second trip of some length when Baby Guy awoke from his nap, and called my husband to advise him. He agreed that while it would have been nice to be able to go shopping en famille Saturday morning, it wasn’t going to be worth the hassle of having to get all of us out the door at the crack of dawn to avoid the madding crowds. After popping a Veggie Tales movie in for the girlies, I sat down to make my list. As luck would have it, we were pretty well-stocked on frozen veggies and nonperishables, but our fresh produce, meat and fish supplies were nearly exhausted. This was not going to be a quick trip, and there was going to be a conflict with the kids’ dinnertime.
I sent Beanie off to the potty twice while Baby Guy was napping. Bugaboo decided to follow her both times, and both times reported to me that Beanie had, in fact, made deposits in her little potty and that it probably needed to be cleaned. Hearing Baby Guy on the monitor, I shoved a handful of granola bars into my purse as I shook our youngest’s bottle, grabbed Mr. Man’s sippy cup, then tore down the stairs, calling over my shoulder as I leapt, “As soon as Baby Guy eats, we’re leaving, so put on your shoes and GO POTTY!”
I heard little feet scampering all over the upstairs as His Royal Fatness slurped down his mid-afternoon meal, them little feet clumping, then the bathroom door slamming, then the potty flushing twice. Okay, I thought, we’re set. Kids in the van, me in the van, everyone has clothes and shoes on including me — let’s rock and roll!
After a quick chat with a neighbor, we were off. Fortune favored us with one of the coveted car carts in a corral with a parking space nearby, so Baby Guy and his car seat were quickly installed in the top basket, Beanie and Mr. Man were belted into the car portion, and Bugaboo walked by my side, her pride in being my big helper mitigating her disappointment at not having a steering wheel with a functioning horn. Luckily, I have the store layout memorized, so we managed to make unbelievably quick work of a seventy-nine item list; it took a little over an hour, which is almost miraculous at 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon in a store that is renowned for its prepared foods. Bugaboo was her usual helpful self, Baby Guy obligingly smiled at everyone who passed our cart, I only had to disentangle Beanie and Mr. Man once, and they stopped their game of “who can grab the cart wheels” on only my second stern warning.
Unfortunately, I had been so focused on the shopping task at hand that I had completely forgotten to take the tribe to the restroom when we arrived at the store. Consequently, when I was ushering the ambulatory tiny people back into the van, I was shocked to note that Beanie was soaked from her bum to her ankles — and oh, so fragrant. Being without spare pants on this occasion, I made all possible speed back to the house. She complained about being wet and smelly all the way home.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for a grocery budget that enables us to feed Your blessings wholesome food whenever they are hungry, plus have enough on hand for neighbors in need. Thank You for the parents and grandparents who taught me how to make inexpensive foods taste delicious, and for the wisdom to teach Your blessings as those elders taught us — we eat what You have provided and give You thanks for Your bounty.
Lord, I need some wisdom, some patience and, perhaps, some grace. One of Your blessings fouls herself as a way of getting extra attention. I’m not sure what else to do, Lord, and I don’t want her to miss out on opportunities to play with friends her age.