Chris is at the Iowa State basketball game in Ames today with his dad and brother (and by the way, they are sitting in the front row and Chris was interviewed by the local news!), so Charlotte was treated to a mommy-and-me day. Turns out, this is not such a treat for Charlotte. After two years, I am still figuring out how to go anywhere with a child.
I had grand plans to take her downtown to this huge children’s reading event put on by the public library. There is a book fair, lots of children’s authors reading and signing books, crafts, live music, a parade, balloon animal-making, and more. But what I really wanted to take Charlotte to see were Clifford and Curious George, who were going to be there to hug and take pictures with the kids.
I was hoping to get us there late morning, but without a car, we were relying upon the city bus, which only runs once an hour on the weekends. The first goal was to make the 10:40 bus, but after lingering too long over breakfast, we just missed that one. I debated walking, knowing I could get downtown by 11:30, but opted just to wait for the next bus because I really didn’t feel like bundling us both up for the trek.
45 minutes pass. We’re both dressed already so I figure fifteen minutes will be plenty of time to get our coats on and out the door.
After discovering the stroller covered in construction dust in the garage, vacuuming it, frantically searching for a missing hat that I swore was just right there, we’re finally racing out the door in the nick of time. Charlotte wants to walk, and I let her, figuring that might be faster than wrangling her into the stroller.
We don’t even make it past our yard before I realize I need a hat and gloves of my own. Okay, I can make this if I run, I think to myself for zero point two seconds. I grab Charlotte and attempt to dash us back toward the door.
But wait, toddlers don’t dash. At least not when we want them to. By the time we reach the front door, any chance we had of making it back to the bus stop in time is lost, at least at the rate we were moving.
By then it was 11:45, and I was not about to wait another hour to miss the next bus. Damn it, we were going to walk.
I bundle her up, and she willingly hops into the stroller (perhaps she sensed this was the only way I’d get us out of here), tuck a blanket around her legs, then leave her on the front porch while I put all my winter gear on inside. (Yes, I did that. Don’t worry, I could see her through the door.)
Then, finally, we’re off. We hear a fire engine roaring toward us from a few blocks away so we stop to wait for it to pass us. Why not, we are already so behind my imaginary schedule.
We are three blocks away when I realize I forgot the camera. Ordinarily, I’d never go back for it, but Chris would really want to see pictures of Charlotte with Curious George. I mentally declare, fuck it!, and turn us back around toward home again.
I can only imagine what my poor anxious dog was thinking as we stormed in and out of the house so many times over the last fifteen minutes. I’m surprised he didn’t bark his lungs out. (<–Impossible for Buddy.)
This time I don’t even bother lifting the stroller up the front steps to leave Charlotte on the porch next to the door. I just leave her right at the top of the driveway while I dash inside. At least I locked the wheels.
You’re probably wondering when this story is going to end? How many more times can one mother fail in an afternoon?
Well, for starters, this is the only picture I got:
Yeah, this super awesome event was really not the place for a lone and increasingly incompetent mother, a gear-filled stroller, and her toddler (who had ditched the stroller when we arrived and was not getting back in). It was so crowded, and Curious George was much bigger than he is in the books. The crafts tables were too tall for my little munchkin, and she was too shy to really participate anyway. After spending five minutes in the crowded book fair and nearly having a heart attack when Charlotte darted through the crowd out of my sight for a second, I decided that five minutes was plenty enough time spent at the book fair.
So, after a mere thirty minutes downtown, we went home.
This time, we did catch the bus, and I think this might have been the highlight of both Charlotte and my day. Charlotte loves to sit like a big girl in her own seat and gaze out the window, and I loved sitting still for fifteen minutes without worrying about losing my daughter or forgetting our stroller. Bliss.
Getting off the bus and walking the three blocks home was another hassle that involved a little kicking and screaming in the middle of the street and some hats flying off, but I don’t think I have the energy to get into that now.
Finally, we arrive home, and I realize I’ve lost our camera (not the good one), but at this point I don’t even care at all. Charlotte happily greets Buddy and eats all her lunch. She gives an enthusiastic mmmmm! when she eats her cucumbers, and she drinks all her water. She’s in a really great mood, even after I tell her she can’t watch Horseland or Dinosaur Train. She goes down for her nap with ease, tells me she loves me, and I come to think that maybe today wasn’t such a failure after all.
Especially after I find the camera tucked into the stroller’s folded up shade! (How on earth did that not fall out?!)
Now, I am sipping coffee next to a peacefully sleeping Buddy in our quiet home. Chris just called and said the Cyclones won (Yay, I guess. 🙂 ), and that he’ll be back in just a couple of hours.
Thank goodness because how on Earth would I survive around here without him?