If you are a woman out in public with small children, you will experience the following scenario. Often.
[Older woman, without [small] children, approaches you and says one of three things]
‘How old are they?’
‘I remember when mine were that age.’
[Followed by eight well-meaning if slightly inaccurate words]
‘Those were the best days of my life.’
[End of scene. Please note, you will never hear a man say those eight words. Ever.]
Now, consider these two scenarios.
I met a friend at Edworthy Park last week. It had snowed an obscene amount the day before, and the temperature was clocking in at a delightful -13 degrees Celsius (if my teal Volvo is to be believed), but still we donned snowboots and coats and met in the parking lot for a walk. For an hour and a half we walked along cleared paths and trudged through snow. We talked about various things and, ninety minutes later, when we found our cars again, I felt refreshed. As though I’d just been given a gift.
So the very next day, I decided the Johnsons needed a similar kick-start to their Saturday. I warned them the night before: ‘we’re going to Edworthy for a walk at 9.30,’ so they had plenty of time to prepare, mentally. Just after 9, we began the time-consuming process of getting five people dressed in winter gear, and it was all going relatively well until Percy had to put on his coat. The bright yellow jacket he favors is getting a bit small, as it’s sized for children aged 18-24 months, and he’s approaching 39 months. So we suggested he wear one of the larger winter jackets in his closet. This became world war three, and only escalated when we suggested he wear waterproof-ish mittens instead of the grey fleece ones he favors.
The ones that get wet when you play in the snow.
By the time we got to the car, the professor and I were both annoyed and exhausted….and we hadn’t even started ‘the walk.’ When we got out of the car at the park, the professor produced a sled on which to pull Percy, since he knew the boy wouldn’t walk for more than five minutes. And of course, there had to be one more little tantrum about how he didn’t want to ride in the sled. Followed by him getting in the sled and refusing to let anyone else use it.
And then the Gort complained of being cold. Turns out he was wearing rainboots instead of snowboots, because his appropriately sized snowboots are ‘too small’.
Which is code for ‘I don’t like them for some really bizarre reason.’
Naturally Percy’s fleece-gloved-hands got freezing cold – because he kept dipping them in the snow while his father pulled the sled. The professor was annoyed because he was pulling a 35 pound kid on a sled. And I couldn’t help but think of those women who find me in grocery stores.
These are the best days of my life?
A couple of Sundays ago, I was sitting in front of a little old lady at church. She observed my restless brood and leaned towards me. ‘I had four boys,’ she shared, and my eyes grew wide, because I truly believe anyone who can parent more than three boys is a candidate for sainthood. ‘It was great,’ she smiled, ‘but there were some tough days.’