It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Flexibility is a virtue

Sunday night. My phone rings. Emily’s mother. “I know Monday isn’t one of her usual days, but I was wondering if we could switch with Thursday?”

“Oh, sure. No problem!”

Emily’s mother is such a sweetie. She’s in a bind, she needs the support, I can hardly say no. It’ll make my plans for Monday a little awkward, mind you. Timmy’s not going to be here today or tomorrow — he’s off somewhere with mom — so, with only three kids for Monday, I’d planned a fairly ambitious outing. Two busses to get us here.

Fun, no?

Can I manage that with four kids? I consider the logistics. With four, I’ll need a stroller, for sure, if only to give them something to hang on to. Strollers are a bit awkward on a bus, but the busses on the routes we’ll need to take will all be of the low-floor variety. The entry drops down for wheelchairs (and strollers!!), they have no stairs, and wider-than-normal aisles. You can even flip up one set of seats (assuming no one’s sitting on them) to make a niche for stroller (or wheelchair). About as convenient as a bus can be, really…

Emily’s not a great walker, of course. She’d need to be in the stroller for at least part of the day, anyway…

Four kids is kind of a lot to keep track of in such a busy place, and this being the last month of school, there may be some end-of-year class trips. If the place is crowded, keeping track of them could be very difficult…

I cogitate. What the heck. It’s a hot day. The air conditioning in the museum will be nice. And even if they only ride the busses there and back, the tots will be thrilled with the outing. We’ll go!

I’ve got the water bottles filled, the spare diapers and snacks tucked in the bags. We’re putting on hats and shoes, when …

Timmy and his mother walk through the door.

I greet her with a smile. “Oh, hello! I thought you were out of town today.” She nods, vaguely.

“Oh, yeah, well, that didn’t work out.”

Thank you for TELLING ME.

She does the hug-and-kiss and wanders off.

Damn. You know, if your plans change, why would you not INFORM the others who might be impacted by them? Yeah, I’m at work. Yeah, I’ll be here anyway. But maybe that extra child will change the shape of my day, alter plans. Maybe COMMON SENSE AND COMMON COURTESY would have you pick up the fu… phone and TELL ME?

Or maybe not.

I cogitate some more. Four was pushing it. There is no way I can manage five on and off the bus, keep track of five in the museum.

Good thing I was saving the happy news about WHERE we were going till we were on the bus. Because now? Now we’re going TO THE PARK!! Won’t THAT be fun?


It will, of course. They love the park.

The park appears busier than normal as we approach. Way busier. Way, way, waaaaay busier. I stop. Is it an end-of-year picnic for a preschool? Because that would be cool. Lots of kids to play with, lots of adults for me to chat with.

Hm. Balloons and streamers. A table full of food. Looks a little more organized than yer standard preschool potluck picnic. And … yes. A table full of presents. And a humungo birthday cake.

It’s a party. A birthday party.

If I had one or two kids, I wouldn’t hesitate. But with five? More cogitation. More mental totting up the risks and benefits…

Nope. There is no way I could keep five of them behaving properly. No way one of them wouldn’t start tearing into the birthday cake, or begging food off a guest, or ripping into a gift, or muscling their way into the pinata goodies…


We turn around. End up back at home, playing chalk in the driveway. Not quite what I’d envisioned for the day. Flexibility is a virtue. Guess that’s why I feel bent out of shape.


June 9, 2008 Posted by | outings, parents, the dark side | 8 Comments