Yesterday I took the kids to the library. Easy enough, yes? A simple little trip: in the van, out of the van, in the library, look about a bit, back in the van, home?
Um, no. Not simple. Not at all.
I did not take any of this advice under consideration. Why should I? I've been to the library before. I've left the kids to play under Daddy's attentive eye and run off to pick up a book or two from the children's nonfiction section, and lived to tell the tale. So, I hopped in the car without a second thought.
Only, I did not have Dr. D with me. Oops.
Flashback a few months: the library system opens their much-anticipated brand new beautiful library. After a year of operating at minimum capacity out of a little storefront, they have a huge, sprawling building. Two floors! Elevator! A deck overlooking the lake! Quite impressive, I think, until my first visit.
Why are designers who have no children allowed to design children's sections of libraries? Why? There are a dozen lovely play areas. A little kitchen. A puppet theater. A huge aquarium. Climbing mats. A doll house. A baby enclosure. Did I mention the library is sprawling? I think so. And so, the play areas should have signs, "limited sight distance." Because if one child is in the kitchen, the baby in the baby area, and another looking at the fish ... there is no place for Mom to stand where she can see all at once. Where she can see even two at once.
That first trip to the library resulted in me coming home frazzled and in tears (Dr. D was out of town which always makes things worse). And since then, I'd been back many times, almost always with Dr. D. so the memory was no more than a shadow. Until yesterday.
Yesterday St. Nick attached himself to the computer, Little Fish went for the kitchen, and Mud Pie took up a seat at the doll house. But I didn't want St. Nick at the computers - he has a "problem" with computers. Screen time makes him fussy and it's very hard to get him away from them. So I told him to stay in the kitchen for "just a second" while I ran off (with Mud Pie and one of the doll house toys) to the other side of the aquarium to get some books for school (the nonfiction children's books are on the other side of that level).
A few seconds later, over Mud Pie's protests about missing the doll house, I heard Little Fish screaming. I rushed back ... around the aquarium, through the floor-to-ceiling poles of the "lily pad", past the doll house (cue Mud Pie screamed again), past the computers where I found St. Nick ... and to the kitchen, where Little Fish was playing happily. ??? Some other child has a scream just as shrill as his. Good to know. I told St. Nick to GET OFF THE COMPUTER, left Mud Pie this time at the doll house and rounded the aquarium with the intention of really quickly finding a book on weather.
I found my book and rushed back again to find Mud Pie staring in horror at some other child who had taken all the doll house toys from her. The mother of that child fake-smiled at me and said, "Oh, we were WONDERING who she belonged to!" and St. Nick was AGAIN at the computer (not using it - he had obeyed that - rather sitting beside another boy, instructing him on how to play the game), and, thankfully, Little Fish was still playing happily at the kitchen. Despite having been shoved in the chest by another child right as I walked up.
Next up was checking out. So, I herded the brood to the self-scan (self-scan! at the library!) and Little Fish bolted out the doors and into the community center to the elevator. I dropped Mud Pie on the counter by the self-scan and told St. Nick to NOT MOVE from her (the same "I WONDERED" mom was at the other self-check and was glaring at me), and sprinted to the elevator before Fish could get on and end up who knows where. Then I ran back to scan books while I had Little Fish by the scruff of his jacket, had Mud Pie on the counter trying to grab the glaring-mommy's child's hat, and had St. Nick fighting me over how to scan the books.
More adventures on the way out of the building, including me having to leave Mud Pie in the entry way to run back and keep Little Fish from dropping his movie over the balcony to the ground floor.
I did not cry when I got home, I just popped in the movie, sat all three kids in front of it, and made lunch. I'll be honest, the Mom's Survival Guide wouldn't have helped me, not unless it recommended tranquilizers or a leash. I suppose it would have helped, had I truly taken to heart the "Know Thyself" dictum. Then I never would have gotten in the van in the first place.
About this time last year, we purchased a year's membership to the zoo, which gets me in for free whenever I want. I have not yet used it.
The mere thought of Zoo + Kids makes me want to break out the hard stuff.