Upon our arrival, a kindly man from the Senior Volunteer Patrol, who didn't look a day older than 95, smiled brightly and asked our children if they wanted to be a "Junior Fire Chief" for the day?
When they all responded "YES!" he very carefully peeled a badge looking sticker off a roll of 1,000 and affixed it to their shirts. He then shot me a confused look when all three of the kids immediately peeled the stickers off their shirts and started to eat them.
What this man didn't realize is that when you are an almost three year old triplet, whose diet consists predominantly of strawberries and peanut butter, metallic stickers fill some kind of nutritional void.
Over the course of an hour, we climbed on to various fire trucks, watched a team of fire fighters use the jaws of life to peel the roof off of a car, and inspected the inside of an ambulance. All the while, Charlie and I kept up our running commentary that as great as it was to see the equipment and trained professionals in action, we hope with every fiber of our being that we never need it.
And then ... it was time to leave.
Unlike my previous outing experiences with our children, this time, there was no forewarning to the meltdown. One second they were happy and the next, they were screaming and running in every which direction. They were yelling at other kids inspecting the fire trucks "MY TWUCK! DAT MY FIRE TWUCK!! MOMMY!! I NEED WOWWIPOP! NOW!! I NEED WOWWIPOP ... WED ONE. NOW!! GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!!"
I've never seen anything like it. Charlie's children were laying on the ground, kicking their feet and thrashing. We concluded that even though it wasn't yet noon, we needed to feed the kids their lunch and put them down for a nap.
Ten minutes ago.
We very calmly tell the children that it is time to go home and we are leaving. We also tell them that when we get home, we'll feed them lunch and read them a story before their nap. Making our way back to the car, I ignored the stares of people who were clearly trying to figure out if they were all ours - or if we were stealing them. And if so, why?
To get back to the car, we had to cross a street which was being managed by a team of retirees from the Senior Volunteer Patrol. Charlie was behind me, holding hands with both Elizabeth and Carolyn who were screaming "Mommy DO It!!" But when I tried to hold their hands, they screamed "Daddy DO It!!!" So, with a smile and the words "Good Luck!" I let my husband escort his daughters across the street.
I was midway through the cross walk when Elizabeth bolts away from Charlie and tries to catch up to me at the same time Carolyn pulls away and tries to run across the driveway in the opposite direction. Fortunately, Charlie has lightening fast reflexes and was able to grab both of the kids before they darted in to traffic. Holding them by their arms, he pulls them along, while they continue to scream.
I was walking with Henry in the Bjorn and William by the hand, who was whining extremely loudly about something that I absolutely couldn't understand. Soon, his whining turns to the intelligible demand "I need a dwink! Mommy!! I need a dwink NOW!! YOU GET IT FOR ME. NOW!!!!" Rolling my eyes up to the heavens I responded "William. It is I who need a dwink. I NEED A HUGE DWINK. NOW!!!"
He pulls his hand away from me and tries to lay down in the middle of the street. Which leaves me no choice but to bend down, grab his arm, and drag my limp child out of the cross-walk.
The kindly man who gave our children their morning sticker snack less than an hour previously, gives us the free advice "It would be easier if you just told them it was time to go and they need to hold your hand!!"
Do you think so??
Because with three kicking and screaming kids, I was thinking it would be easier if we just locked them in their rooms and never left the house again.
Not learning our lesson on Saturday, we left the house again yesterday morning and took the kids to a local outdoor mall for a walk. Because it was approaching noon, we opted to feed the kids lunch at the Food Court before heading home for naps. Charlie grabbed a table in the shade and was holding Henry while I took the three kids in to a small enclosed restaurant to place our order.
I tried to encourage the children to stay with their father, but they insisted that they follow me and cause my stress level to be 10 times higher than necessary.
Just inside the door, all three of the kids realize that the louder they talk, the more of an echo they create. While my eyes are quickly scanning the menu so I can place the order and leave, my children's little voices are escalating, escalating, ESCALATING. What started out as a hushed whisper of "Shhh. Please be quiet!" turns in to me hissing between my clenched teeth "FOR PETE'S SAKE BE QUIET!!!"
They get louder.
I grab them by their hands so tightly I worry for an instant that I crushed them ... until I look down and see that their eyes are literally dancing with smiles and mischief.
Pulling them to the counter, thirty little fingers start frantically grabbing at straws.
And ketchup packets.
And anything else they could reach.
Sweet and Low.
I get down at their eye level and holding their faces in my hands firmly tell them "KNOCK IT OFF or you are ALL going in time out!"
They straighten up and stand like obedient little soldiers at the counter, which is situated right at their eye level. The clerk taking my order gives a forced smile and comments on how "sweet" my
The words no sooner left her mouth when all three of them stick out their tongues and start licking the counter and laughing hysterically. I shriek "Ugh!! What are you doing?! Ick!! Icky!! Guys!! PLEASE don't lick the counter!!!"
Elizabeth runs over to the drink machine where she is standing on tippy toes trying to depress the ice machine lever. Carolyn walks over to a plant and starts pulling off it's leaves. William, for the second time in a week, spots a piece of chewed gum on the edge of a trash can, picks it up and holding it in front of his face yells "Mommy!! GUM!!!"
Ice shoots out of the machine while I try to grab Carolyn away from the plants and William who is now covered in a web of chewed gum.
We should have just gone straight home and fed the kids peanut butter, strawberries and metallic stickers, because they didn't eat a bite of their $12.00 lunch. Although they liked hot dogs a mere five days ago - yesterday you'd think I was trying to feed them cauliflower.
No surprise, this morning, every one - including the baby - is sick.
I don't know if the cold that they had from two weeks ago has resurfaced, or if the kids have passed on to the whole family an aggressive virus that they picked up from licking the counter in a mall restaurant, yesterday.
One thing I do know is that Henry has just taken a two and a half hour nap with my nipple in his mouth and our triplets will be three years old in less than a week. From what everyone has been telling me, three is much more challenging than two.
If their behavior this past weekend is any indication of what's to come, I'm in trouble.
I also fear that I'm going to see up close and personal the inside of one of those ambulances as they cart me off to the nut house.