Tuesday, December 22, 2015

When errands turn into pleasant outings

You have one child, and you worry and you fret. You fret about getting out of the house, nursing in public, crying baby, having enough diapers, not getting enough sleep, baby not sleeping.

Then you have two kids, and now you fret about coordinating naps, or one child running off, or being split into two directions. You fret about going out in public and not being able to control them, or having enough snacks, or using the restroom.

Then, somewhere, around three kids, magic happens. You still fret and feel overwhelmed, but you fret much less. You probably have a handle on nursing in public, you know which establishments have the cleanest bathrooms and are kid-friendly, and you have emergency diaper stash in the car. You gave up on coordinating nap schedules and accepted sleep deprivation as a trade-off to spend time with these little people.

It is the second day of the winter break for 5 yo and 2 yo, and, I have to confess, I'm loving it. I love no afternoon carpool. I love having them all home. I love having all the kids hang out together, separate into playmates as they see fit. I love that 2 year old is entertaining the baby. I love that 9 yo and 5 yo are playing their games. I love that we are all going to places together.

Today could have been insane. The boys had their taekwondo in the morning, I was testing right after their class, and then we were taking the car for an overdue oil change. I could not attend the class, since I had all the younger kids with me, but it turned out to be fine. Both 5 yo and 2 yo packed their backpacks with toys and books of their selection. 5 yo stayed in the dojang and watched the boys. 2 yo stayed right outside the door, watching the practice, getting drinks from the water fountain and being quiet. The baby was the hardest: she did not nap in the car on the way over, and I needed her to be happy for my test, as I was relying on 11 year old to watch her. She was fussy, but I was able to nurse her to sleep and leave her in the car seat.

I fretted about not stretching before being tested. I knew the material, but my body was not warmed up. However, the test went well (and I have to thank the teacher, who is a parent himself, for keeping it short and sweet). 11 yo watched the baby and played Hangman with 5 yo. 9 yo watched 2 yo. He was impressed with my board breaking, on the first try.

Then we all changed into regular clothes and drove over to drop off the car for the oil change. Since it was a fast day, even though none of us were fasting, I did not want to take kids to Starbucks for hot cocoa, and I did not want to get them treats. However, we did have an hour to kill. When I unloaded the kids, they lined up around one of the car bays: I forgot how exciting it is to see the car go up and see the underbelly. Once they realized that our car is not getting hoisted up any time soon, they asked me what we are doing for an hour. I suggested going to a nearby square, but they spotted the library first. "Ooh, can we go?" One of the boys was sad that he did not have his library card with him. This is not the branch that we usually go to, so it was even more exciting. I said that we can stay inside as long as the baby doesn't fuss, and then we discussed why the library is expected to be a quiet place. When  we got inside, the boys disappeared into the stacks. 5 yo found some puzzles, 2 yo found a book and asked me to read. The baby squirmed, so I sent her crawling. We stayed inside, with me reading to the younger ones for about 20 minutes, when the baby's level of noise started getting louder and louder. It was time to leave.

When we came out, I told the kids that we can break into the only snack I brought: a half-eaten bottle of peanuts topped off with almonds, craisins and dried apricots. We walked over to the square, where there were benches and space to run around. 11 yo protectively held 2 yo's hand when we crossed the streets. 9 yo pushed the stroller. The kids looked around at the shops and the restaurants and commented on their names and food options. In the square, 11 yo sat on the bench, while the younger ones ran around, playing tag, and climbing on the sculpture. I took the baby out and held her in my lap. It was warm, it was nice, the kids were taking turns grabbing snack from the bottle and strictly enforcing fairness. 

I thought to myself: how lucky I am to reach a point where an oil change is a welcome break from our routine. It was such a good outing. I did not fret about the snacks, I already changed 2 yo at taekwondo, so I did not fret about the diaper. and we would get home, when we would get home, and they will either nap, or not. The older kids will either eat lunch, or not. And none of it matters.
What matters is that we are all here, right now, together. What matters is that I am not overwhelmed by my five kids. What matters is that I am enjoying them, in a pure way where parents get nachat not because of what kids do, but just from having them.

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