hey. I know your town is all hip and everything and you’ve got this “boo-fest” goin’ on and all and you’re down with the whole Halloween scene and all. I’m down too. but my kids? well, they’re another story.
we were all set for the boo fest kids parade and story time here in historic shepherdstown. believe it or not, I actually got ruth in costume, with makeup and joel with makeup but no costume ’cause he won’t wear it, and miles…well, what can I say? he was dressed and fed and that’s about all you can ask from him. the days of making a fuss over a baby at Halloween are over for me. all before 10:30 am. unheard of in my household.
but life with three… what can I say? it’s a constant tug of war with forces outside of your control. as soon as you’ve got one kid happy, another is upset. I fed miles in the car. I popped the trunk, got the stroller out, had all our gear at the ready, ruth was waiting with fairy wings on, miraculously NOT throwing a fit over her costume, miles was loaded into the ergo baby, we even found free parking a couple blocks away from where we had to be. all we had to do was to walk those few blocks.
and we couldn’t do it. joel refused to get out of the car. he would not budge. he’s been doing that a lot lately in reaction to us ruining his life and throwing off his flow by bringing miles into the picture, I guess. as soon as he can sense you’re in a hurry and you need him to move his feet or just get in the damn stroller or in the car, he balks.
I tried to bribe him with promises of sweets from a bakery afterward. I tried to get angry. it just makes things worse. I tried asking nicely, like I tell the kids to do over and over about a million times a day. nothing worked. and there I stood. a ridiculous sight to behold, blocking the sidewalk with my stroller, an impotent figure in a small, inconsequential existence, stuck at a crossroads and unable to act. I leaned over, wearing miles on my chest, onto the brick wall next to me and hung my head.
ruth was still berating her stone-faced brother when I heard someone behind me coming up the walk. I was in such a state, I didn’t even bother to look up or to move over. he walked around us into the street and as he passed, he commented good-naturedly, “you all look like you’re fixin’ to go to a Halloween party.” I looked up. grouchy and smoldering I might be, but I’m beyond the age where I would blatantly ignore a person talking to me. “yup,” I said, “there’s a parade in town for kids.” he raised his eyebrows, “really? I don’t hear the screaming.” he winked at me. I smiled, pitifully eating up what little sympathy this man was throwing me. “have a nice day,” I said after a moment. “you do the same,” he replied and continued moseying up the sidewalk in no hurry.
there’s something to this southern way of life, I thought, that meshed better with life with kids than the faster pace we northerners seem to lead.
joel eventually forgot what he was upset about and we were able to coax him out and into the waiting stroller so that we could begin walking. about twenty minutes had gone by and we missed the parade. but we made the story time. it’s all about the little victories. they’re enough to keep my spirits up. the little sympathies, the little looks of understanding, and the small small moments of utter satisfaction and contentment and sometimes awe that break through the steel cloud ceiling overhead. this is parenting.
the story time ended up being nothing special. joel spent the whole time playing with his toy phone and ruth gazed on disapprovingly at the animated nature of the story teller in front of the group, and downright scowled through the singing. miles enjoyed eyeing the crowd, but as I looked around me, I saw many parents of one, a few parents of two. I saw myself a few years ago, and I realized that I was past this phase of parenting. the “signing your super young kid up for anything and everything” phase. the “desperately searching for parenting friend types” phase. the “over-the-top helicopter parent involvement in kid play and kid activities” phase. I’m different now. I trust myself more. I trust my kids more. and I already have parenting friends. good ones.
ruth stood at the craft table getting frustrated with a glue stick like only a true blooded perfectionist kid can do and I knew it was time to leave. we withdrew from the overzealous crowd, glad to have been out in society, but reassured once again, that we like what we’ve got goin’ on and we’re all much more comfortable when we do our own thing.