By: Amber Leventry
If you take a set of twins to the park it might be because they looked at each other, the playset in your backyard, the sandbox, and 73 outdoor toys and declared they don’t have anything to play with.
They’ll look at you with hopeful eyes as you look at the clock and decide there is enough time to go to the park before nap if you pack a lunch and leave the house in its current state of disaster.
When you give them the answer they are looking for, your twins will spend the next 24 minutes ignoring your threats of staying home if they don’t use the bathroom and put on their socks and shoes.
They will also demand to watch a show, have a snack, and dump more toys on the floor as you prepare a lunch there is a good chance they won’t eat.
After throwing fruit snacks at your children and packing a bag that seems to indicate you’ll be gone for days, you think you saw your children enter the bathroom and put on something that resembles footwear.
The twins will climb and jump into every corner of the minivan except their car seats until you physically strap them in. One will tell you she never peed and the other will be wearing Crocs. Crocs are the worst. You tell him so, and he screams in your face. You sigh and walk away.
You go back into the house to grab his sneakers, steal a bite of a brownie, steal three more bites of a brownie, and wonder if anyone will notice you sitting in the park with a tray of brownies and a fork. You grab your daughter’s shoes because you can’t remember if she actually put any on her feet.
As you buckle your own seat belt, you do a mental check of things that should be in the bag you packed while telling two children to stop nagging you for snacks and Daniel Tiger. Lunches, extra clothes, water. Check, check, check. Sunscreen. Fuck. You run back into the house, resist the brownies, and find the sunscreen hidden behind the toilet. You decide another brownie will limit your supply of pants to ones with elastic, but you like sweatpants.
An hour later, you head to the park. Your twins say they are hungry. One tells you she has to pee. You say nothing and drive the four minutes it takes to get to the park in a mix of exasperation and exhaustion.
Upon arriving, you tell your children they will need to use the bathroom and put on their socks and shoes before playing. You will feel a sense of déjà vu. The screaming will drive the sensation home.
Your son has forgotten about the mulch/sand/rocks-in-the-Crocs scenario from the last park experience and will cry real tears as you take off his Batman Crocs in exchange for real shoes.
After all of you are good and sweaty and irritated with each other, it is time to leave the van to find the nearest bathroom. As you guide one child to the toilet, the other will make a run for the slide.
You may not be in the best athletic shape, but you are in the best mom shape of your life. You will find yourself moving with the grace of a ninja when you grab the back of your son’s shirt while holding a bag of lunches and an iced coffee (because the brownies made you thirsty and you stopped at Dunkin Donuts), while still propping the bathroom door open with your foot to allow airflow in the grossest bathroom you and your child have ever smelled. All without stepping in the puddle of what you think is urine.
You are finally in the park. One twin, then the other will immediately want a snack.
You tell them to drink some water and wonder if you will always feel so stabby.
Your children will run, climb, play in the sandbox and do all of the things they could have done at home but will be happier doing it while ignoring the kids they sort of know from the library.
For 20 whole minutes, nobody wants you to do anything. Except watch everything they are doing, which you sort of do while you finish your iced coffee, check email, and shout “Awesome!” every two minutes.
You will have lunch and silently congratulate yourself on withholding snacks as they actually eat the food you made for them.
Everyone will be full and happy and you agree to a little more playtime in the park.
But exercise is good for digestion and someone will need to poop.
You take both kids to the smelly bathroom, one reluctantly keeping up with the one in desperate need of a toilet.
While you spend several minutes asking your daughter if she is done yet, your son will say he doesn’t need to go to the bathroom and won’t even try to go. You give up because it’s easily 95 degrees in the enclosed space and smells like the flesh of something dead.
You go back to the climbing net the kids love so much. As your daughter, now light as a feather, makes it to the top, your son decides he has to poop.
Of course he does. And yes, you will always feel stabby. And sweary.
You repeat the bathroom routine for a third time.
You go back to the park and deny all requests to be pushed on the swings. You remind them they have swings at home.
Your twins will see a bird with a piece of bread in its mouth and that will prompt them to declare hunger. Again.
You tell them it’s time to go. They can have a snack in the car.
Suddenly neither twin is hungry, but it is clear they are tired. They try to fight off your attempts to leave, coordination fails, patience is gone, and sand is in someone’s eye.
You and your twins are wearing a gritty mist of sweat as you do your best to leave the park without making a scene, without one child running into traffic, and without losing all appearances of sanity.
When you finally fall into the front seat of the van, with the AC on full blast and your kids happily munching on animal crackers, chances are they will want to go to the park again tomorrow.
*Laura Numeroff is the author of the If You Give…series.