This morning featured a little more craziness than normal, partly because the ambulatory members of the tribe were aware that a trip to the Rodent Redoubt (Chuck E Cheese, for the uninitiated) with friends was in the offing, and partly because I was on the telephone for nearly an hour and a half catching up with news from our extended family. Breakfast was a little rushed, and most of Mr. Man’s ended up on the floor. He has developed the somewhat disturbing habit of pooping as soon as he sits down to eat. Given that we are still working on teaching Smudgie that an unattended plate is not an open invitation, this creates a bit of a logistical problem.
As I was throwing bottles into the diaper bag, I inquired of our younger daughter, “Beanie, we’re going to Chuck E Cheese today. Will you remember to use the potty today, or do I bring extra pants (I’m not completely stupid — they were already in the bag)?” She enthusiastically replied, “I’m going to use the potty!” Bugaboo helpfully offered, “Remember, Beanie, you can’t use the men’s room. You’re a girl. And you can’t use the kitchen, either.”
Ah, the wisdom of an older sister.
Into the van we piled. I was relieved when I saw our friend, Breanna, had already arrived, as this would make the process of ordering while keeping trap of the pipsqueak posse significantly easier. Her three-year-old daughter, Miss P, is buddies with Bugaboo and Beanie, and her one-year-old, Miss J, is still closer chums with Baby Guy than Mr. Man, who tends to be a little on the loud and rowdy side. Our other friend, Joanne, whose three-year old granddaughter Miss L rounds out the girl-power group and whose one-year old granddaughter Miss V is the apple of Mr. Man’s eye (he learned to say “pretty” because of her and Miss S, who is also part of our playgroup), was slightly delayed.
Breanna and I herded our troops in, obtained the requisite handstamps, and procured enough pizza, beverages, and tokens to ensure a fun morning for the entire crew, including the adults. We all still get a kick out of winning a few tickets to add to the communal pile. Having staked out a couple of tables with diaper bags, sippy cups, and Baby Guy’s car seat, we decided that since Miss P is having just as much fun with potty training as her pal Beanie, a potty run before loosing the horde was probably advisable.
Bugaboo took charge, leading her sister and her friend to the ladies’ room, chattering a steady stream of instructions about which entrance to use and the inadvisability of disrobing before reaching the facilities. An astonished Breanna stood next to me, shaking her head. Both Beanie and Miss P are generally a little reluctant to head for the head, but the two of them tagged right along with Bugaboo, all of them giggling at this unexpected bit of independence. When Bugaboo emerged alone a few moments later, I reminded her that the right thing to do would be to wait for the other two girls to complete their business, and with a nod, she disappeared back around the corner. All three little girls emerged a few moments later, and were promptly granted a handful of tokens each with which to wreak their bits of havoc.
When the pizzas arrived, we again dispatched the wee trio to the ladies’ room, and again they went merrily down the hallway together. Mr. Man thought this looked like such fun that he decided to attempt a solo run to the men’s, which I decided was probably a bad idea. Luckily, he was easily redirected with a slice of pizza — and somehow, at Chuck E, he doesn’t poop when he has food before him. The girls returned and settled in to have some lunch.
Joanne arrived shortly thereafter with her two granddaughters, to Mr. Man’s delight.
As the kids’ energy and our token supply began to wane, we sent the girls off for one last bathroom break before we headed for the ticket muncher and prize counter. This time, Miss P emerged alone, and informed me that Bugaboo was having a problem. I ran down the hallway (my speed was because Bugaboo happens to be the one child who has actually fallen into the commode) and around the corner, where I found Bugaboo attempting to comfort Beanie, who was most distraught over the toilet paper roll whose end had somehow fallen into her boot. As a result, she was trailing quite the impressive cloud of white tissue behind her. After I freed the offending paper and assured her that she was not, in fact, being chased by a ghost, the girls headed off to count tickets and select treasures with their friends.
Baby Guy was tired of Chuck E Cheese and everything else by this time.
Joanne and Breanna headed off, trailing a cloud of little girls (Mr. Man was still trying to cadge an extra game of skee-ball from one of the employees), to the ticket muncher.
We pool all of our tickets and split them among the kids; Mr. Man, Miss V, and Miss J each get some stickers and a whistle or a piece of candy, and the older kids share the rest evenly (Breanna, Joanne and I use our mad skill game skills to augment the horde’s hoard).
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for the company and love of our friends. Thank You for Your blessings’ dawning comprehension that many scary things are less so when we have a friend or two with us. You instructed us to love one another as You have loved us; help me teach this to Your blessings, and to remember it myself. Friends are gifts from You, and we should treat them accordingly.