Last Sunday afternoon the kids were already in the front yard playing when I stuffed my feet in my boots and grabbed my coffee to join them. Or not really “join them,” as G is quick to point out that I never play with them (Remember? I’ve talked about this? He does not appreciate the fact that I read with them or hang with them on the couch and watch their cartoons; no, he wants me down on the floor rough-housing like their Daddy or playing catch. Being together and talking is not good enough for my son.) but instead to sit on the porch, watch them be silly and enjoy the weather.
I looked out the front door while tying my scarf around my neck and saw Baby Chickadee about to push her baby in her stroller out of our yard. As of late she has become very good at making a loop with the baby stroller in our yard, but that day she worried not about leaving on her own. I hollered, “Where you goin’, Baby Chickadee?” She looked at me, smiled with her arm outstretched to me in a wave and said, “Good-bye.” I laughed, ran down the porch and walked with her.
G and Little Missy joined us. When we made it to the corner Baby Chickadee pointed toward downtown and said, “Dis way.” So Little Missy rode her bike back to the house to tell her Daddy where we were headed. He ran out to join us. Then the five of us set off for downtown: Little Missy on her bike, G running next to her, Baby Chickadee pushing her stroller (Which I did not make clear. Like, it is Baby Chickadee’s own stroller that she was pushing around, the one I push her in myself. Not a toy baby stroller that is her size. The girl has to stretch herself out to reach the handles.), and Hubby and me in the back.
The first melt down erupted as we crossed 7th Street. We told Baby Chickadee to “Hurry fast!,” at which she usually giggles and toddler runs across the street. But that day she STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET in protest of… what, exactly? Telling her to hurry so as not to not get hit by semis? Or letting her choose the route of our walk? So one of us had to carry her while the other one pushed the stroller with the fake baby.
Then Hubby and I each took a turn of squatting to her eye level and explaining why we’d had to run across the street. Eventually she got it and we moved on. Or the realization that brother and sister were so far ahead and she wanted to catch up moved her forward.
Page 2 of 3 - Every few steps Baby Chickadee had to stop to re-buckle in her baby. Or to take out her baby and carry her. Or to walk with her Daddy, leaving the stroller behind, only to scream in protest when I pushed the stroller for her. Then she’d have to re-buckle in her baby.
The walk was super fun.
Then Hubby and the big kids had to leave for the air show. We were maybe three blocks from our house, it was a nice afternoon, and I figured I’d let Baby Chickadee dictate our route a little bit longer.
So she took us by the old train station, through parking lots and under the bridge. Which would have been fine, it would have been a perfectly nice walk, if at every street she didn’t FREAK OUT at having to Hurry Fast. Every time I squatted to her eye level and explained to her that we had to hurry across the street, and in response she’d look away, shake her head and grumble. So then I’d have to push a fake baby in the stroller while carrying a screaming Baby Chickadee in my arm.
Spectacle. Spectacle. Spectacle.
THEN, the worst happened on the busy part of Main Street. She wanted to cross the street it’d just taken us a good long while to cross and go back under the bridge instead of my options of heading North into the neighborhood or West along Main Street. We tried to wait each other out; she with her hands across her chest and chin jutted out, me alternately at her eye level or standing next to the stinkin’ stroller that she refused to ride in, dealing with the extra baggage of my coffee cup and scarf. Finally I told her which way we were headed, gave her the option of riding in the stroller or walking, and took off with a flailing and screaming toddler.
A lady walking toward us smiled an “I feel your pain” smile, which is what I’ll sometimes smile at parents with publicly ornery children. Because I DO, I feel their pain, as we’ve all been there. But it is such a drag to be the one whose turn it is to deal with the shrieking misbehaver, ESPECIALLY while on Main Street. Blah.
We finally made it home. Something switched in her brain when she saw our house and she was happy to go there, only to quickly ask for another walk when we got to our front door. Um, that would be a negatory, little girl. And then we both went inside and collapsed into a well-earned nap.
Page 3 of 3 - There have been more walks this week, still filled with her dictating the route but with giggles and toddler runs across the street when I tell her to Hurry Fast. So that wasn’t the last walk we’ll ever take. Just hopefully the last in which we make continuous, contentious spectacles of ourselves.
Erin Fox is a weekly columnist for the Augusta Gazette and a busy mother and wife. Her popular blog - erin’s little corner can also be found on our webpage,augustagazette.com.