Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15, 2011 ~ Day 187
Bicycles and Beans

The best hour of our day, without question, was the one where I motivated to take my children with their bicycles and helmets down to a local bike path that wraps around a large body of water.

The boys were so excited! They pedaled their little legs as hard as they could, and fell off their bikes like 30 times whenever they tried to swerve around pedestrians or other cyclists.

"Stay to the right!" I'd shout, and they'd both promptly turn left, much to the chagrin of the folks trying to pass them.

Still, it was hard even for the grimmest stranger to be frustrated with such cute little guys in their helmets - biking their hearts out along the boardwalk. Eventually I realized that if I was more specific ("Stay close to the water!") they did a lot better figuring out where to ride and stopped creating traffic jams.

Even my two year old girl enjoyed that part of our day, despite the fact that she was trapped in a stroller due to her inability to scooter along fast enough to keep up with the boys. She laughed and squealed and pointed out the things she saw ("Mama - Birdeeee!!! Mama - Boat!!!") so all in all, the bike trip was an unqualified success.

If I'd been grading myself on mothering ability right then, I think I would have earned a solid "B", fair and square. It was a strong effort. When we got into the car, my sons agreed that they'd had a good time and the smaller one added,

"I had REALLY fun here. REALLY fun, mommy!"

Of course, within fifteen minutes the ground had shifted beneath my feet significantly.

We'd stopped by the grocery store on our way home from bicycling, to pick up needed items for the week. Grocery shopping with three little kids, on purpose, is like taking a needle and plunging it directly into your eye. Really. Why would anyone ever do it, if they didn't ABSOLUTELY have to?

Okay, maybe it's not quite THAT bad.
I'm also willing to admit that maybe, it's just MY kids.


Navigating the parking lot alone with them is enough to make me totally crazy. How many times can a woman really say, firmly and sincerely,

"You need to stay RIGHT HERE with me while I get your sister out of the car.
Do you understand?
There are CARS everywhere around you. This is NOT a good place to mess around.
Are you hearing me?
This is NOT a good place to fight with each other.
Please stop pushing each other.
Boys? Boys? Boys!!!"

Add to that an exhausted two year old who hadn't napped and felt hungry.

"I WANT APPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!" she screamed as we arrived in the produce aisle. "I WANT MILK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

She grabbed wildly at all food and bottles within reach of her seat in the cart, knocking many things off of shelves and giving me plenty of reason to apologize every time we saw a passing clerk or shelf stocker... and to the numerous customers giving us dirty looks along the way.

What IS it about grocery stores that brings out the worst in my children?

When I really think it through, I guess it is understandable that they find it difficult to control their impulses when they are surrounded by a million tasty things that they aren't allowed to touch.

I wonder what my kids would DO if left unfettered to roam freely throughout a grocery store and eat anything they wanted to. Would they end up huddled in a ball somewhere in the snack bar aisle, after stuffing their little faces with twenty marshmallow and peanut butter bars? Would gallons of milk soak the cement floors beneath the cereal section?

It's an interesting thing to ponder.

Back to our day though, it seriously got to the point where the clerks themselves started to try to discipline my kids for me ("You need to act more nicely for your mother, young man!")

Possibly I need to find a different grocery store frequented by more families, so that my kids won't be the only children in the entire store. They really stand out... possibly because you can hear them coming from a mile away.

(As an aside, I have to hold back from laughing every time our little traveling herd comes close to a single guy in his mid to late twenties, I've frequently seen them look at my three kids and respond as though they are a contagious disease that may be catching... backing off slowly in the opposite direction ~ ESPECIALLY if they are grocery shopping with a date or girlfriend. I can only guess at what they are thinking - but it makes me laugh every time.)

By the time we left the market tonight, I had probably quietly asked my children to stop grabbing each other about thirty times. All three kids had lost dessert - a natural consequence, given that their misbehaviors centered around food.

The boys took this loss in stride, knowing full well that they'd crossed a few too many lines with me. Our toddler was sobbing however "MeMe wanna Cupcake! Cupcake!" and I later discovered that she'd shoplifted a small rainbow colored refrigerator magnet from the checkout aisle that reads: "Celebrate Who You Are!"

While a bit cheesy, I decided that maybe the magnet was Life's way of sending me a warm reminder to celebrate who WE are as a family - joys and warts (and chaos!) and all.

We're only two days into the kids' Summer Break from school and already I've drawn one important conclusion... every day is going to have its highs and lows, and if I want to feel good about the Summer as a whole I'm going to have to celebrate the highs and appreciate them as they happen.

So on that note, I'll sign off with the visual of two little boys racing around a wide boardwalk on their bikes (Spiderman and tiger striped, respectively) cheering at the June sky.

"Mama!!!! Look at Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! I'm so fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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