My neighbor has been taking her kids to swim lessons the past two weeks, and invited us to tag along one morning to get a feel for the location and program, in case we want to do it next year. She stopped by this morning to say today would be the last day she could do it, and they were leaving in an hour.
Last night Green-Eyes woke us up talking in his sleep: "I want to play with my friends! I want to play with my friends!" We've been pretty housebound the last two weeks. Boys were sick, then I was. Our gardening buddies who come twice a week are out of town. Summer activities are practically nil because of the heat. We've been a little bored.
So, I threw some clothes on the boys, took a quick shower, and made it to the car just as Neighbor Mom was buckling her last kid in. I had their breakfast juice sippies, two half-eaten snack bars, two dinosaurs, and one diaper packed. It was a half-hour drive through farm country to get there. Drove past two corn fields ("Wow, that's even more corn than in our garden!"), a dairy farm, and an organic produce farm that I didn't know was out there.
We watched Neighbor's 6yob take his lesson, but by the end of the half hour it was getting hot, and the boys were tired of watching other kids swim. They wanted in the pool themselves, of course, which I knew was a potential issue. They were also getting hungry and the snack bars had lost their interest. So I talked the swim instructor briefly about the program, picked up an information sheet, said goodbye to our neighbors, and we headed toward the parking lot.
On our way out we passed a Gatorade vending machine. The juice sippies were warm by now, so the machine was very attractive, but I couldn't find any change in my purse. Tried to explain this to my thirsty Green-Eyed Boy, but by the time we got to the parking lot and were back under the hot sun, he'd run out of patience. What kind of a mother doesn't carry enough cash for a vending machine drink?
I have to remind myself, when I'm driving down a freeway with a 3-year-old screaming hysterically "I want to go to the swimming place!" and "Look in your purse AGAIN!" and "I want my Daddy!" in the backseat, that these situations have to do with bad planning and genetic blood-sugar defects -- NOT the fact that I don't spank my kids for talking back, NOT because I "give in" to their demands so often that when a demand cannot not met, the world comes to an end. Guilt, and spending time with people who do think that way, has a funny way of erasing common sense -- especially when my blood sugar starts to falter as well.
And it did, after we got home, and my sweet firstborn was still upset. But somehow we got through it. When I do start to lose it, and he sees that I'm going to start crying, too, his natural tendency toward empathy is triggered. Eventually, after a long hug and several "I love yous," after we settled in front of Barney (where little brother had been calmly occupying himself) with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk, the crying stopped. And then the three of us climbed into the family bed for a nap.
As soon as we laid down (about five minutes after the milk settled into his tummy), Green-Eyes had forgotten all about the pool and the Gatorade, and was cheerfully planning our next trip to the toy store ("We can get a Deinonychus to go with Triceratops, Mommy!"). The boys are still stretched out alongside T-Rex and Utahraptor.
Now I'm going to search the sofa cushions and laundry room for some spare change, so I'll be prepared next time we pass by a vending machine.