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Challenge: Keeping Your Cool


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It’s hot. I swear the kids and I are melting. Endless time and excessive Virginia heat are the recipe for meltdowns. I make lists of activities to entertain us and promptly cross them off.

Walk to the store:

Yes! Great! They get an activity and I get to pick up a few things I need. Then mommy foresight kicks in. I know better. The first 5 minutes we will all think this is amazing. We will be thankful for shady paths and entertaining creatures. Then one will want a ride. Then the other MUST have a ride. Then I’m the donkey with 60 pounds of toddlers on my front and back. No matter how good my distractions are, they will see the playground. I will inevitably buy popsicles or milk because clearly my choices are questionable. The popsicles will melt, or I’ll worry that the milk will spoil. I will start have visions of what happens to toddlers when they have spoiled milk. There is no way in, this scenario, for everything to make it home in one piece.

Go to the gym:

Yes! Great! I get a shower. Wait, I’ve done this before. I get 40 minutes into yoga then the teacher says, “You’re lucky Margaret , no more Utkatasana for you!” This settles in and I think, “Am I? Am I really lucky?” I am hot yoga gross. Everything is dripping and they need me. Someone is crying, or poopy, or otherwise inconsolable. If they can’t make it through yoga they won’t make it through lunch. I will be drippy, sticky gross and coated with toddlers until husband comes home. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll let me shower with the kid toys (fingers crossed).

Story time:
Good one me: Air conditioned and educational! This one comes with choices: book store or library. Bookstore: Toddler #1 will sit quietly and love the stories. Toddler # 2 will hug me. This vision seems amazing. Then I remember there’s craft time. I relive it. Mommies and toddlers bum rush the store employee. EVERYONE.WANTS.CRAYONS.

Kids see toys. I think about hiding in the hand puppet display. They find me. We buy something. Cashier is not used to kids. Cashier thinks kids are storming his register. Chaos ensues. Maybe the library is better; there are no crafts. Crafts is when it all goes downhill: scissors, glue, madness. Wait… there’s playtime. This never goes well. Someone always takes someone’s something. The librarian always escapes and a bunch of moms who are strangers are left to co-parent toddler negotiations. Neither place has a space for lunch. Hangry toddlers, shared toys, no common rules, no thanks, I’ll pass.

I’m not even gonna say Mall:
The promise of safe places for kids to walk, a train or carousel to ride on, lunch and a play area: perfection, no? NO. I fell for this just recently friends. Thought I’d get Toddler #2 her first haircut, ride the train, pick up some lunch. I had hero fantasies. I could feel the hugs I was sure to receive.

Vision: We would be cool. Toddlers would smile as they giggled on the train. I would sit or stroll or otherwise relax.

Reality: Toddler #2 tried to refuse her cut. I did not realize this was an option. She could not be removed from me (literally pressed her forehead against mine and held on until they stopped trying to remove her and instead gave her the lolli that she clearly deserved.) There was a kids’ concert, which meant that we followed crowds of toddlers. Have you ever seen toddler lines? MADNESS. They’re more like a toddler whirlpool only there is screaming and they can cause damage. Waited in the "lines" for the train, the lunch (because all toddlers eat Chick-fil-A) just when I thought we had made it through all the obstacles,we headed back to the car. I was cocky I admit it. Thought we had it. Toddler #1 “helper extraordinaire” carried the lunch. I carried drinks and Toddler #2. Toddler #1 got stage fright on the escalator. All was almost lost. There was this moment when I was running up the escalator sideways legs crossing and holding Toddler #2 wondering if I’d make it to the top or if everything would go over the side. As Toddler #1 sat down at the bottom of the escalator and an adult crawled over us, I finally had my moment of clarity: stupid!

So here we are. We have made our choice. We’re sitting by the front stoop, dripping with popsicles. We are inches from air conditioning. I don’t have to clean this step. Toddler #1 digs in dirt or watches ants. Toddler #2 learns to say “nice to see you” and wave at passersby. Everyone smiles. We have found the secret to summer. We keep our cool. We move slowly and focus on enjoying small things.

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