Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My Theory of Relativity

For the past several months, whenever one of us has to go the store - we always take a child with us. We have found that it is much easier shopping with one toddler, as opposed to three ... and the benefit is a two-to-one ratio for the person at home ... and quality one-on-one time for the pair that goes to the store.

So often, I feel terribly guilty that I am not giving my complete attention to one child. What I've noticed is that one child acts a whole lot differently when they are not surrounded by their siblings and jockeying for my attention. For example, they'll do things like ... listen and pay attention. Kinda sorta. Well, not really. I suppose I'm just more capable of chasing down one toddler than I am three.

Although the benefits of having built-in playmates for the children are numerous ... I think it's extremely important that they also have the undivided attention of their parents every so often, too.

I know it's relative ... but in my world, one toddler is a breeze. And two toddlers are a lot easier than three - mainly because I have two hands. Even though particles children are small, they move fast - and when there are multiple children - it's impossible to keep up with them when they start moving in their own direction, at the speed of light.

(Yes, I just tried to apply Einstein's Theory of Relativity to parenting. Wait until you see my discussion on energy. Then you'll really see why Physics was one of my favorite classes in college.)

If you don't count the time I got hung up on the side yard with safety harnesses, the last time I had the whopping realization just how outnumbered I am, is when I took all three children Christmas shopping, by myself.

That would be one of me. Plus (+) 3-14 month old babies.

In. A. Store.

At Christmastime.

I had tried to do as much shopping on-line as I could, but there were a few items I had to go to the store to purchase. Because it was Charlie's day to work, we don't have a babysitter due to my crazy hang-ups and no family within 10-hours ... I brought all the babies with me to REI, one of my favorite outdoor stores of all time.

Within 5-minutes of arriving, Elizabeth threw up, William had a blow-out poop and Carolyn had an absolute meltdown when a stranger looked at her and said "What a gorgeous baby!" I made a quick sweep around the store, eyes rapidly scanning what else I could possibly need, and with a carriage full of clothing (strategically placed to avoid Elizabeth) - I rushed the front register and unloaded everything. I hardly hesitated when my purchases totaled $150.00 more than I expected. The only thing running through my mind was "Must stop the screaming ... must pay - must leave - must get out of here."

The next day as I prepared to wrap my goods, I figured out that the reason I spent $150.00 more than I expected is because I purchased $150.00 worth of stuff I had not intended. Stuff like ... men's slippers in a size 14, an icecream ball, an XS flannel shirt and a book entitled "How To Shit In the Woods".

What I concluded is that as I was walking around the store, the babies were grabbing whatever they could reach and pulling it into the carriage. When I arrived at the checkout, I didn't pay attention to the stuff I was unloading because of my partially crazed mental state. If it was in the carriage, obviously it was stuff I had put there. Clearly this was before the time I was enlightened to the fact that our babies had minds of their own and a desire to defecate in an environmentally sound manner, while making icecream and wearing an XS flannel shirt and pair of size 14 slippers ... in the woods.

Either that, or ... I had three pint-sized kleptomaniacs.

The following day, I went back to the store with only one baby in tow. I loaded Carolyn in to a Kelty backpack and took off to do my returns and pick up the remaining items I still needed. For the next 90 minutes, I perused the aisles and nearly forgot I had a rider. She was perfectly content. When I finally meandered up to the front to check out, the cashier gave me a surprised look and said "WOW! You really have your hands full. Taking a baby Christmas shopping all by yourself? Boy are you brave!"

At first I thought she was joking and kind of chuckled along with her. When I could see that she was serious, I snorted and said "You think my hands are full with ONE baby? Lady, you have no idea. Really, you have NO idea."

Shopping with one baby? Yes ... I suppose that could be tricky. But after shopping with triplets two days earlier, this was like taking a shit-free walk in the woods.

Because I really enjoy one-on-one time, I capitalize on it wherever I can. For instance ... if one of the children wake up from their nap early - I will scoop them up and play quietly while the other two sleep. Most recently, I got a head-start on teaching William his colors with the help of plain M&M's while his sisters continued to snooze. (I need to interject it is FALSE advertising that M&M's don't melt in your hand. They melted all over William's hand. While he sat on our white bedspread. How brilliant am I to teach our 22-month old child colors with the assistance of multi-colored chocolate on a white bedspread, you might ask? Well, this was definitely not something I thought about beforehand ... kind of like the safety harness fiasco. I think my mind is shot.)

So, the point of this ramble ... because, yes - there is a point sometimes it takes me an eternity to get there is that tomorrow morning Charlie and William are taking off for a long weekend together. Just the boys for some quality one-on-one time. They are hopping on a plane at noon and flying to San Francisco to visit with Charlie's sister and two brothers.

Quick pause while I hyperventilate because the only thing worse than me being on a plane ... is my husband taking my baby boy on a plane.

Tonight as I was helping Charlie pack, I could sense his excitement about the upcoming trip. And it made me think... if you were to ask a man what would he like to do for a vacation, I doubt he'd say "I would love to fly somewhere with my 23-month old son ... ALL BY MYSELF! I'd be overjoyed at lugging a stroller and carseat through the airport and I'd jump at the chance to install that carseat into some rented vehicle, and then try to navigate around a strange city I haven't been to in five years. Where, praytell, do I sign up for a trip so grand as this?!"

See, it's all relative. Because I know that this flight will be a lot easier than the last few times Charlie and I have been on a plane with all three kids. More than that - I know Charlie is ecstatic about showing William off to his family and unless he wants to drive 12-hours, a 1.5-hour flight is his best bet.

As for me, I'm really looking forward to some quality time with "just the girls" this weekend. Since they've never been separated before, I think it will be interesting to see how the children do away from each other for the next four days and I'm excited to see how they greet each other on Sunday.

This should be fun provided I let Charlie step foot on the plane tomorrow morning with my baby boy. I'm really looking forward to it.


  1. I put my "littl boy" on a plane a year ago when he was 14. He went to Washington DC on a school trip. There were about 35 kids, so about 35 moms in tears at the airport. Of course he had a blast. He did, however, come home addicted to Starbucks.
    What great memories you are each building with your children.

  2. OMG! How exciting! Jeez, so much to cover in one comment!
    1. Dude, how can your hubby NOT be excited when you see a little William with a face like that as his travel partner?
    2. Girls only weekend, that sounds like so much fun too!
    3. REI experience...hi-freaking-larious! I'm more apt to believe they want to know the etiquette on pooping in the woods and not that they're kleptos.....
    4. meanwhile I'm going to go now and google that contraption you took on your singleton REI experience!

  3. I am again reminded why I love to read your epistle length posts. My kids always want me to tell them stories about when they or I were little. You are going to have way better story material than I've got!

    Have fun with your girl's! Have anything fun planned?

  4. Hi! I recently found your blog and your trips are adorable!

    Don't worry, the plane ride will go fine! I'm sure they'll have a great time together!

    Have a wonderful weekend with your girls! Shop! Talk! Play! :)

  5. William lloks like a "Little Man" .
    Oh, I feel sad that he is growing up so fast. I cannot wait to hear how the weekend went with both parties. Now, No shopping for cosmetics with the girls---and no absolutely no--training bras.
    I am in RI and set for the reunion. Having a ball at Jim's neice's home. We were welcomed like royalty.

  6. That sounds like so much fun for you to have a girls weekend!!! You know that your "boys" will be fine and also enjoy the time together.

    I haven't split my boys up yet. I'd be curious to see how they would do.

    All I know is that when I've gone to the dr. with just Cade, it was a PIECE OF CAKE. I mean, we actually got to read a book from front to back without interruptions and without him pulling at the page. I was truly shocked at how well behaved he was without someone to "feed off of".

  7. the REI story is absolutely hilarious!!

    how to shit in the woods........he he!!!!

    You are TRULY crazy to have attempted triplets by yourself while Christmas shopping. That's why I keep coming back to read your blog!!!!!!

  8. Jen,
    Please take pix of the reunion of the trips on Sunday!!!