There are certain activities that are just fundamentally incompatible with small children.
My problem is that I seem to have a great deal of trouble correctly identifying these activities in advance of participating in them.
For example, when Snoodie was 8 months old, David and I found ourselves in Niagra Falls and so we decided it might be fun to take our BABY for a spin on 'The Maid of the Mist'.
We were incorrect. It was not fun.
Over a year later, it still seems difficult to fathom that there was NOTHING about an entirely open vessel heading directly into four million cubic feet of falling water that said to me, "Not for infants".
(actual footage from 'Maid of the Mist' outing)
All this to say that it should come as no surprise that when my sister (a major marine-life aficionado) called me earlier in the week to ask,
"Hey, you wanna go out to the beach some night this week and see some sharks that are swimming close to the shore?"
"Sounds great! I'll bring the kids!"
Because hearing the words "shark hunt" and thus opting to leave the kids behind is just not how I roll as a mom.
(actual sharks, though not my actual camera)
As it turned out the sharks were the least of my problems. They were of the docile, non-human-eating variety, cool to look at, and downright fin-tastic. The issue was, as it often is, that no matter how much I try to prepare for all eventualities, the chance that the whole affair will go completely off the rails increases exponentially with each child I bring.
The main issue at present is the fact that the first of my children (Snoodie - 23 months) moves at all times at roughly the pace of a meth-fueled cheetah, and in far less predictable directions, while my second (Crinkles - 3 months) is a perma-inanimate object usually ensconced within 30-odd pounds of carseat.
So our trip to the beach went something like this:
We pull into the lot, and as soon as the car is in PARK Snoodie begins wailing for release with cries of, "UP! UP!" I rush to unbuckle him, and as I go to retrieve Crinkles I scream to my sister,
"Can you chase Snoodie? He's escaping!"
I haul the 18-wheeler-sized double stroller out of the trunk, snap Crinkles into place, and head towards the sand.
THE SAND! Yeah, so it immediately becomes evident that the only route to the shoreline is over 40 yards of beach, which makes the stroller a no-go. I go back to the car to return it and realize I'm going to have to carry Crinkles in his car seat so that he'll have a quasi-protected place to sit when I'm inevitably chasing his errant older brother around. Which means I can now carry only one of the four bags of beach supplies I've brought with me. I need to choose among
THE FOOD BAG
THE CLOTHING BAG
THE TOWEL BAG
THE DIAPER BAG
I decide the food bag takes precedence and head off, leaving my other supplies behind.
As I totter out onto the beach I can see my sister in the distance chasing Speedy GonSnoodez across the sand in the exact opposite direction of the sharks. Several beachgoers notice my struggle to stay upright under the weight of Crinkles' car seat and offer helpful suggestions such as,
"You should have carried the baby and left the seat, that's what I do when I come to the beach!"
As I lack a free hand to punch these people in the jaw, I continue on my snail-like journey towards the water's edge. I can tell by the increasingly loud cries of,
followed by a firm,
"Hitting me in the face is not allowed please!"
that my sister is managing to wrestle Snoodie in the direction of the shore, where we can already see sharks-a-frolicking!
We arrive and my sister, anxious to get a closer look at our finned friends, heads straight for the water as I stay behind to give a bottle to a now very agitated Crinkles.
EXCEPT! We've forgotten about Snoodie who has already spied the water, screamed 'BATH!" at the top of his lungs, and marched in up to his shoulders with all his clothes on.
I give chase but in the process leave Crinkles completely unattended on the sand 20 yards distant. People enjoying their evening strolls on the beach are congregating around him and murmuring in concern,
"Who left this baby here?"
In response I emerge from the sea soaked from head to toe and carrying a toddler who is screaming,
"Naii! Bath! Naiii! Bath!"
repeatedly. I attempt to tend to Crinkles in a way that conveys to the passers-by, "No need to call Child Protective Services!" but accomplish little other than causing him to become wet, sandy, and epically enraged. Snoodie, meanwhile, continues his tantrum and adds some rolling about in despair, thus managing to coat every square inch of himself with wet sand. (Hmm, perhaps I should have instead brought the clothing bag after all! A dry outfit for Snoodie sure would be handy right about now!)
My sister returns from shark peeping as I am stripping Snoodie down to his diaper, and we open the food bag to attempt a picnic dinner -- only to find that an errant sippy cup has soaked all of the contents beyond recognition. (Hmm, perhaps I should have instead brought the towel bag after all! Those things sure would be handy right about now!)
So we skip dinner and make our way back toward the parking lot. I'm once agin carrying Crinkles in his carseat, now with the added bonus of him shrieking loudly. Snoodie walks beside me, his wild running curtailed by the fact that his diaper is so wet that it is dragging on the ground between his feet as he whimpers softly. (Hmm, perhaps I should have brought the diaper bag after all! A proper diaper for Snoodie sure would be convenient right about now!)
And thus ends our outing. For those of you keeping track our scorecard looks something like this:
TOTAL LENGTH OF EXCURSION: 27 MINUTES
NUMBER OF FURIOUS CHILDREN: 2
AMOUNT OF CLOTHING WORN BY OLDER CHILD BY THE TIME WE REACH THE CAR: 0
NUMBER OF GLARES RECEIVED ON MY PARENTING TECHNIQUES BY STRANGERS: 23
NUMBER OF OUTINGS MY SISTER WILL AGREE TO ACCOMPANY ME ON IN THE FUTURE: 0
NUTRITION PROVIDED: 0
AMOUNT OF BEERS NEEDED TO COPE WITH EXCURSION BY 2 ADULTS: 5.3
What can I say, folks? Just another day at the beach....