…after swim lessons. The trip was preceded by a stop at the house for J to go potty, during which we lost the keys, something I didn’t realize until after I’d loaded everyone back in the van. I searched for 20 minutes, gave up, unloaded them again, and the second J was unbuckled, found the keys under the car seat. So, same song, second verse, only with more yelling this round.
By the time we’d pulled out of the driveway and made the turn towards Hy-Vee, I was questioning my decision to have any children, let alone five, given my difficulty in keeping crap together.
When we arrived at Hy-Vee, I remembered I was wearing my “Raise Good Humans” t-shirt and said a quick prayer that they would act like good humans (or, at least, not animals) and I could act like a person capable of raising good humans (or, at least, not a screaming lunatic).
An older woman handed us her cart in the parking lot, and I put J and Roo in, then told the boys to walk beside me. We waited for another woman to enter the doors ahead of us, and met up with an older gentlemen, who insisted we walk in first, then asked me, “Where’d you get all these kids?”
I told him they were mine and he asked if they liked trains. I said they did, and so we stood in the entrance for several minutes while he showed us pictures from a train museum he helps run. After handing us a brochure, we went our separate ways and the lady who had walked in ahead of us, having finished her shopping and witnessed us standing in the same spot for quite a bit, came back by on her way out of the store, stopped, and said, “You have very well-behaved children.” I laughed and told her she had no idea the amount of arguing it took to get here and she smiled and said, “Well, some days are like that.”
As we made our way through the aisles, we were interrupted a number of times by people smiling at the crew and asking them questions and inquiring (yes, really) whether or not they were mine, usually followed by a joke (“Did you pick up all those kids here?” “Do they sell them by the pound?”).
One man, waiting to check out, told me a story about how, when he was young, his mom and dad took them all on a trip to the dump and, when they got there, two extra kids popped out of the car. “They were the neighbors,” he recalled. “Scared mom to death. She had no clue they were in there. (Pause) Thanks for letting me tell you that and for having these kids with you. Made my day.”
We paid for our groceries and I headed to the van with a cart, four kids, one Nutty Bar, one Zebra Cake, and three Fudge Rounds (because we try to include daddy in our snack buying), feeling pretty good about the life we’d created. After all, if complete strangers like these hooligans, we must be doing OK.
I get caught up in the chaos around here quite a bit, feeling that the crazy is an indication that we’re screwing this all up. And I have to remind myself that it’s not. That mostly it’s the result of trying to get seven people with seven different personalities and busy schedules moving in the same direction in a “well, good, we’re close to on time and we have almost everything we need” manner. All while trying to teach them (simultaneously…hence the head-swirling) to be decent humans.
(Or maybe the t-shirt was just a lucky charm. If so, I need a dozen.)