Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Three Kids And A Baby

I am planning to embark on a critical mission. On Wednesday, morning at 6 am, I will leave my home and drive four hours to a world full of strange and unpredictable beings. I will be accompanied by three young, but enthusiastic females and an even younger, but truly tyrannical male.

Our mission? We must find a way to prove that Mommy can drive four hours on the highway with children, enter an amusement park with the same children, enjoy eight hours in the amusement park with the children, and exit the amusement park with the same 4 children without losing her mind. Also prohibited during this mission are screaming, running away, staying seated or otherwise resting for more that 5 minutes, hiding behind tall humans to avoid small humans, getting dizzy, or giving in to queasy feelings on rides. Mommy will be required to ply small fry with endless amounts of junk food, cheerfully ride the scrambler (just one more time), and empty her purse of anything green that happens to be in it. Hiding change for paying tolls is absolutely not allowed!

I have somehow gotten myself into taking a field trip to an amusement park with my four children ages 10, 7, 5, and six months. I don't know why I did it, but I agreed to let their father stay home. I am less than four hours away from starting my mission and the fear has begun to set in. How will I ever survive 8 to 10 hours in an amusement park with my four children? My children a hard to keep calm at the local park, so I can only imagine the type of pandemonium that will ensue once we actually pass the amusement park gates.

I've been coaching my children, over the last two weeks, on what I expect of their behavior. They have been warned to stay with me at all times, not to run ahead, or lag behind. They know I will not spend an outrageous amount on souvenirs, but I'm sure they have guessed that I can be coaxed into spending a mildly ridiculous amount on amusement park food. I know I will be, quite literally, exhausted by the end of our trip. I am exhausted after a day of keeping up with them at home, so I am sure this will be ten times more tiring.

Despite the wear and tear my children will put on my poor body, I am prepared to give this trip my all and enjoy myself as much as possible in the process. What I am not prepared for is keeping my six month baby (tyrant) happy and quiet. My adorable baby, Alex, is a joy to be around. I feel blessed to have him in my life. Alex, however, is attached to me at all times. I cannot put him down. I am nursing him or holding him, walking him or cuddling him. I am not exaggerating when I state the fact that he sits by himself only about thirty minutes per day. I even cuddle him while he sleeps since we have not yet come to an agreement about him sleeping in his crib.

You might be wondering, after learning about baby Alex, how I manage to get anything done. The answer is: by wearing my baby. I put him in his sling and get to work. It can be back-breaking because Alex already weighs in at twenty-five pounds, but it is the only way I can get anything done. Well meaning friends have suggested I simply let him cry it out, but I cannot handle that. Listening to baby Alex cry for me, watching his chubby little face turn beat red, seeing his normally smiling eyes fill with tears, just hurts my heart too much. I am an old softie. I do, however, let him cry while I'm cooking. I just will not take the risk of unintentionally injuring my sweet baby by trying to cook with him in my arms or strapped to me. The thirty minutes baby Alex spends sitting by himself per day, are usually while I am preparing dinner for our family.

It is mostly because Alex is so demanding of me physically that I am so frightened about our trip. I wonder: will he cry to be nursed every 15 minutes? Will he allow me to push him in his very cute but not very highly regarded ( by him at least) stroller? Will I have to sling him through the park for the entire day? Will I be able to walk at the end of the day, after carrying him for so long? Will baby Alex like the strange sights, sounds, and smells in the amusement park or will they make him even more unwilling to let go of me? Will this amusement park mission exhaust him so much that he will be cranky and irritable all the way home? And the most important question of all : why did I ever agree to do this alone?

As you can see I have many concerns about this trip. I hope, in spite of my concerns, that I will be pleasantly surprised with a smooth and enjoyable trip. I will do everything in my power to make sure the trip does go well, for my children's sake. They are so looking forward to going that they ate their vegetables at dinner, did not even ask for dessert, cleaned their rooms, showered (with soap), and got into bed without any nagging at all from me. I'm not certain if they actually went right to sleep because they do have trouble sleeping the night before a big trip, but the fact that they climbed into their beds without any prodding from me is truly a miracle.

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