I had to pick up a rental car on the way home from work yesterday and the timing and various locations of everything meant that I had to pick the kids up at camp before I got the rental car. This of course means that I had all three of the boys with me at the rental car place which is usually hope to A) A long line, B) A water cooler, and C) retractable line dividing things that are INCREDIBLY TEMPTING PLAYTHINGS FOR MY KIDS. Add in the facts that they were exhausted from camp and I have not willingly taken them anywhere further away than my front yard in about three months and I had some misgivings about the situation.
We parked at the only available space in the lot, which was across a veritable deathtrap of a parking lot/demolition derby type of arrangement where people were returning and picking up rental cars and NOT PAYING ANY ATTENTION AT ALL. After yelling at James sharply to STOP RUNNING OMG after he jumped out of the car and trotted around to the rear tailgate, we made a cute little chain of people holding hands and somehow made it into the lobby without incident.
I tried to head off trouble at the pass.
I smiled and used a cheerful voice. "I want you guys to go wait in those chairs over there and be very quiet. You may have ONE glass of water from the water cooler, but only ONE GLASS. ONE GLASS OF WATER."
They obediently trooped over to the water cooler then returned to their seats while I stood in line.
Finally I got up to the front. I was signing the papers when James approached me and said in a stage whisper, "CHAR-WEE HAD TWO GLASSES OF WATER."
I turned around to find Charlie and Wes whispering to each other pleasantly. "It's fine, James. Go sit down."
Then Wes stood up and said "I'm going to go get more water. Charlie said I could."
Charlie "shhhh-ed" him loudly. Much louder than Wes had been talking. Wes gave up on water and begain pulling the line marker out, out, out, out of the stand. He was poised to let it snap back again when I shot him a look and he carefully released it.
Finally they told me they would bring the car around for me.
I turned to the kids again, bent down to look them all square in the eyeballs.
"I have to go get the carseats out of the van. I want you to sit right here and DON'T. MOVE. A. MUSCLE. Be quiet, whisper, and NO MORE WATER."
It took me approximately fifteen seconds to dash across the parking lot, unhitch James's seat, remove Charlie and Wes's booster seats, and spirit the whole mess back across the lot to the sidewalk where I dumped everything in a loud pile and ran back inside.
I sat in a seat between Charlie and Wes and told them what a GREAT job they were doing waiting and being so calm and polite! Yay! What GOOD BOYS. You guys are the BEST.
James approached me from... somewhere in the waiting room and said loudly in his inexplicable New England accent
"MOM, A FAAWW-TED!"
I and everyone waiting in line snickered.
"Let's talk about this in the car, James." I said brightly.
"I FAWWW-TED OVAH AND OVAH AND OVAH AND OVAH AGAIN!"
His eyes flashed with joy.
Finally, we got our car and crammed all the carseats in for the ride home.
Epilogue: I had the following conversation with Charlie, hours later, when I was telling Ryan about how good everyone was at the car place.
C: "I spilled some water."
Me: "You did?! How much?!"
C: "It was a whole cup."
C: "On the chair."
Me: "Did you clean it up?"
C: "I couldn't find any napkins.
I think I'll use the after-hours dropoff when I return the car.