So Wednesdays, huh?
The kids' school gets out early on Wednesdays so I had to peel out of there right after my class to go pick them up. After school we go to the weekly school garden workday where we tend the plants, water, pull weeds, and do other tasks as needed. Other tasks as needed includes playing parking lot soccer/football (Wes, secondary school boys) and catch small animals (Charley). Charley is also the compost man. He can mix a brown-green ratio with the best of them and HEAVEN HELP the guy who doesn't remember to turn the drum before adding new compost. Today one of Wes's friends from his class was there too and they had a blast watering the potted plants and each other in the front of the school.
Garden days are awesome.
After the garden we go straight to Charley's therapy appointment, which lets out around 3:45 normally, and then we go pick up James and Mary and speed home to make and eat dinner before Wes has to leave for choir around 5:40. Except today I had not actually planned anything for dinner because honestly who can think about dinner three whole days ahead so that meant we had two options. 1) Go back to that HEB where Charley had to drag Wes around the store by the sleeve of his shirt because he refused to walk when I wouldn't let him watch the entire Ninja Turtles movie standing in the store at dinnertime. 2) Get takeout somewhere after picking up James and Mary.
I chose option 2).
The best option based on our route home is a crowd pleaser barbeque restaurant that is also a gas station because this is Texas and we love our petroleum. It really is a great place and the only reason I mention the gas station part is that part of the dining experience is being almost killed by some asshole in an F350 on the way in from your car.
Today was no exception. I stood on a grassy traffic median clutching Mary loudly enjoining the other three to STAY CLOSE PAY ATTENTION DO NOT LEAVE MY SIDE WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING as an armada of killing machines stood at the ready filling up with gas and buying snacks. When it looked safe, we all took one step off the curb. We hadn't made much progress when a mom in an SUV crept around the corner going a perfectly reasonable three miles per hour and Charley bodily threw us all back onto the median to wait for her to pass. Ultimately we made it inside without incident. It was a miracle.
Mary was getting heavy so I put her on the floor, standing up holding the wall for balance, while I ordered. Sometime while I was looking away to sign the credit card receipt, she crawled away from me and under the metal bars that mark the switchbacks for the lines. Thankfully a refrigerator case of beer blocked her from going any further and I was able to snag her by hitching my hips up on top of the metal bar and doing a crazy uneven bars move banned by the International Olympic Committee and snagging the back of her shirt. This went over about as well you might expect.
Obstacle number two was to carry Mary (35 pounds) and the bag of food (10 pounds, threatening to rip and spill our dinner all over the floor at any moment) across the restaurant to use the self-serve sauce dispenser. Once again I put Mary on the floor, standing up on the wall, while I dispensed some sauce into a cup. Sauce I only was getting because Charley NEEEEEEDED sauce with his brisket. The other kids milled around in the general vicinity eating pickles directly off the condiment bar with their hands.
It was about this time that Wes asked me if he could get an orange soda. Something about this never having happened before made him think that this might be possible just this once if only he had a big enough tantrum.
When I turned back around, SURPRISE, Mary was headed for the beer case again. She had just sped off under the turnstiles and was making tracks. I had to abandon the food on top of a trashcan lid and run after her. Like literally run.
Running after a toddler in a restaurant while my three other kids were double-fisting free pickles off a condiment bar is just what I pictured when I decided I wanted a big family.
So then I had Mary under one arm and the giant bag of food under the other. Praying that I could make it across the deathtrap parking lot unscathed with the food intact, we began to make our way to the door.
About halfway there it became clear that Wes's disillusionment regarding the Fanta was going to make it impossible to make any forward progress at all. I kept walking, hoping that this would be the one and only time this approach has ever worked. I hid around the corner, hoping he wouldn't see me and think I had left the restaurant and he better get a move on.
James helpfully ran back and forth between me and Wes shrieking "MAMA WES IS LYING ON THE FWOOOOOOR! WES IS NOT COMING!"
Mary began to squirm and slide down my body. She really wanted that beer case.
Since you can't yell as loud in a restaurant as you would need to to really light a fire under Wes, I had to get creative.
So James took the bag of food. Which was half as tall as he is and at least a third of his weight. Charley took Mary, who is also VERY BIG and heavy and unwieldy, especially for an eight year old.
And I scooped Wes off the floor.
I stalked out of the restaurant, Wes slung over my shoulder, with a super-classy parade behind me.
A three year old embracing an enormous bag of smoked meat like a teddy bear. An eight year old bear-hugging an enormous toddler around the middle, dress hitched up to her armpits, be-tighted legs dangling free.
"STICK TOGETHER" I called out behind me. Thankfully the parking lot had emptied and there were no F350s. I encouraged Charley like I was a sherpa guiding him up the last few hundred yards of Mount Everest. "You're doing great, buddy! Don't let her go! You're almost there!"
He shrieked gleefully "I'm not gonna drop her but it's sure gonna be great to put her down!!"
We made it to the car. Wes was still having a tantrum, possibly because I was whispering sweet nothings in his ear like "LOOK AT THIS. Are you PROUD OF YOUR BEHAVIOR?
Then I mistakenly took the bag of food from James and put it in the car without asking his permission first. So then I had two kids tantrumming in the middle of the parking lot and a baby who was, SURPRISE, CRAWLING AWAY FROM ME ACROSS THE GRASS. I buckled her up with a quickness, stuffed a protesting James into his seat and buckled him into his five point harness (which he will be using until puberty, I heart immobile children).
I slid Wes as far as I could toward his seat, closed the van door, and got in my seat where I called Ryan to have a tantrum of my own.
Nine hours later, he had finally shape shifted himself into his booster seat and found the humility to buckle his seatbelt. We made it home without further incident, but not inside the house. I love a good front lawn tantrum as much as the next guy, but I was pretty happy when he finally had some protein in him.