Monday, January 26, 2015

On Facing My Fear...

One of my biggest fears these days is how to manage taking the kids out in the van while Paul is at work.  It doesn't seem like that dramatic of a problem, does it?  But I'm always worried that Mae is going to take off and I'll be slowed down by Patch and James and won't be able to catch her. 

She's fast.  I'm not fast when I'm wrangling James and Patch.  So the idea of taking the kids out in the van without Paul is something that generally makes me break out in a sweat.  It's also something I've altogether avoided doing for the last three and a half months since James was born. 

I did it today. I was out and about with the kids and the van, without Paul.

 All the kids.

When Paul announced that he had to work during Sadie's ballet class, I'll admit, I felt a little panicked.  Sadie's ballet school is all about not missing classes as they gear up for the spring performance and she'd already been asking me if I was sure she had ballet and if I was sure I wouldn't forget and how many hours, minutes, seconds it would be until we got there. 

The thing is, taking my little crew out in public isn't that big of a deal.  As long as it involves a stroller and not a car.  The loading and unloading of the car is really the weak point for me when it comes to going out.  Inevitably I will have to let go of someone's hand, or hold both Mae and Patch's hand in one of my hands and if a certain wandering four year old really wanted to yank away from me at that point, she probably could.  It makes me very, very nervous. 

Paul looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I began to discuss the distance and how it was walkable... if only it was spring and if only it wasn't get dark so early and if only there weren't several inches of ice on the ground, under the snow.  There were a lot of if onlys. 

As I made dinner and handed out sippy cups I plotted my strategy.  Here were the possible logistical challenges I worried about possibly facing while getting the kids home from Sadie's class.

Worry #1- My first worry was how to keep Mae and James apart.  Mae adores James.  She tells him she "love, love, loves" him many times a day.  She also love, love, loves his car seat. She thinks it beautiful.  And it's in the seat of the car that Sadie used to sit in, which means it's next to a window covered in Tinker Bell stickers. 

This only makes it more awesome and appealing to Mae. 

Also, in it's rear facing reclined position I'm pretty sure she thinks it's a bright red lazy boy.  Given the chance she will throw herself into it and attempt to stretch out and take a nap.  I'm not entirely sure she wouldn't try to join him in his car seat if he was already in it.  I've seen her come pretty close to doing it and while I stopped her, I'm not entirely sure what would have happened if the scene had been allowed to unfold.


Worry #2- James would be in the Moby Wrap while we were at the class.  However James couldn't be in the Moby wrap when I loaded up the car. 

In the past month I have been kicked in the face while buckling certain people in to car seats.  Either Mae or Patch may be totally on board with being buckled in, or they may act, together or separately, like it's a fate worse than death and I'm locking them in to some sort of torture device. 

So while a part of me would have liked to keep James on me until certain siblings were secured in their own seats before I put him down in his seat, this didn't seem to be an option.  Because the middle of my chest is right in the line of fire if someone going into the car seat decides to resist. 

Worry #3- This was the big one.  My fear is that somehow Patch and Mae would take off running in separate directions towards the busiest high traffic areas they could find while I run in slow motion after them... like in one of those nightmares where you feel like you're running through cement while everyone else can move about normally.  I also imagined my arms having the reach of a tyrannosaurus rex in this scenario, since James would be in the carrier and it's really hard to grab little people when you're wearing a baby on your chest. 

So it's not like I was totally irrationally panicking or anything.  Okay.  Maybe I was a little.

We went to the class.  The forty minutes Sadie spent inside were quite the workout.  Mostly it involved redirecting Mae to keep her away from this:

While standing between Mae and the alarm, Patch's little hand
shot out and he almost managed to set it off.
He'd spent most of the time pretending to be asleep (or actually being
asleep) on my back, so I totally didn't see it coming.
Walking down the hallway to look at her favorite giant mobile:

She loves the orange triangles.
In fact she loves just about anything orange right now.
It's the color of the moment.

and wondering if Paul working on Mondays is going to be a regular thing from now on.  Because usually I really enjoy sitting with James during Sadie's ballet class with my planner open and planning my week.  It's relaxing in a week that doesn't have much time for relaxing.

And this:


is not even a tiny bit relaxing.  See that stressed out look in my eyes.  It's the look of someone who's praying they can get everyone wrangled into the car in one piece... while also checking to see if Patch is up to no good.

When not turning off the lights in the hallway, or edging closer to the fire alarm, Mae spent most of her time dancing.  Which was the best part of our wait.  She really wanted to go into the class room with the girls.  She settled for dancing up and down the hallway:

video

video

When it was time to go I maneuvered our little bunch out to the car, planning on getting everyone in and pulling the door closed behind me.  Once the door was closed I'd figure out logistics, likely putting James in first and then Mae. 


And in totally unrelated news, Sadie asked me to cut her hair.
It was down to her waist and now it's just below her
shoulders.
That plan came to a screeching halt, however, when I found that I couldn't fit into the car and close the door with Patch on my back.  In fact I couldn't fit in the car with both carriers on at all.  So I went to plan b. 

I put Sadie and Mae in the van and closed the door and walked over to the other side of the car and put James in his seat.  I had Sadie stand next to him to make sure no one climbed into his seat with him in it and hurried back around and got Patch, who was refusing to stand up as I tried to set him down, out of the back carrier, into the car and into his seat. 

Sadie was still standing between Mae and James (and Mae was behaving perfectly) and I got Mae snapped in to her car seat and then put Sadie's chair back in place so she could get in to her booster.  Thankfully she can buckle herself.

And just like that we had survived. Mostly at least.  I still had to unload the kids at home.

At home I put James in the wrap and managed to hold both Patch and Mae's hand in one of my hands while closing the sliding door with the other. 

Success.  And Sadie actually sang to James and got him to stop crying when I was tucking Patch and Maggie into their beds.  He's been fussy for the past two days and so I was really surprised when I came downstairs to silence and found Sadie sitting next to his bassinet and singing while he smiled up at her! 

And maybe tonight can be a confidence building lesson that disaster isn't totally inevitable if I do have to load and unload them into the van by myself.  Although I have to admit that I'm still eagerly awaiting the days when the stroller won't get stuck in the snow if I try to push it down the sidewalk!

22 comments:

  1. Ridiculous though it may sound, these sort of logistics stress me out more than anything else about parenting does, so I love reading that someone with so much more experience than I can handle it! Good job!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Katherine! I totally probably make it way worse by going over exactly how I'm going to do it in my head, but I think it does help me gear up for whatever's going to happen a tiny bit better. At least I tell myself that it does!

      Delete
  2. I was wondering if you could "umbilical" Mae and/or Patch to you to keep them from getting away from you. I think you mentioned you sometimes use those harnesses that you hold onto them on outings. If you get a long leash (6 ft?) and put it around your own waist like a belt, you could click their harness onto that and they could only go so far and not get into the street while you're having to let go of their hand. Also, if they are wearing a harness, is there a latch on the end that could click onto something inside the car to prevent them from darting? I know they are very smart and little fingers can quickly undo some latches, but there might be something out there that would work. I don't know if this is at all practical. Just brainstorming.

    If I think of something else I'll post another comment. But I was thinking that it seems you've reached some sort of critical mass right now where what used to be manageable is just not now. I'll keep you in my prayers.

    God bless. ~ Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually had her "monkey leash" (because it looks like a monkey backpack) with us... but I can only get her into it when she wants to get into when I have the other kids because if she doesn't want to wear it she'll just go into a complete meltdown and thrash on the floor and scream... which is manageable on my own without the boys, but when I have the boys I can't life her at the same time.

      She used to love her monkey leash, but midway through last year she did a complete 180 over it and started screaming when she saw it. Which made me so sad because those things are great!

      Delete
    2. Regarding her sudden hatred of the monkey leash, when my sensory kid was a toddler and decided he hated his bear leash, I put rocks in it (I think it started as just a place to keep them while we were out one day) but he LOVED the added weight and suddenly decided to wear it all the time. If Mae is a sensory seeker, it might be worth trying. Of course, first you have to get her decide to try it again. I don't remember how I managed to get him to try it again though (that kid is almost 8...)

      Delete
    3. "She used to love her monkey leash, but midway through last year she did a complete 180 over it and started screaming when she saw it."

      Sounds like she finally realized its purpose. :-)

      BTW, when I saw the photo of the fire alarm, I was looking at it through Mae's eyes so to speak, and even I wanted to pull it!!! :-) :-)

      God bless. ~ Bonnie

      Delete
    4. I thought the same thing when I was looking at it! My first thought was "it's red, it's a shape she likes.... how is this not going to be a disaster?!?!?"

      Delete
    5. And Erin, I love the idea of adding weight to the leash! That might work! She loves weighted vests and just about anything else compression or weighted... as long as it matches her dress!

      Delete
  3. Can you keep a double stroller in the van? Then put Mae and Patch in it and they are contained while you unbuckle/buckle James. Or even a single stroller to keep Mae contained while buckle/unbuckle everyone else and walk across the lot. Or a Sit N Stand stroller. Mae sits and Patch stands (If he would stay there).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have a double stroller but it doesn't fit through a lot of doorways and the break down and set up is complicated since it's really old (it's awesome once it's set up, it just involves all the wheels coming off and stuff like that). She was actually in the single stroller on the way across the parking lot, but she's broken it in so many places that I don't think it can contain her anymore if she wants to get out of it.

      Just writing it down makes me laugh at how many safety devices she's broken out of over the years. She's actually snapped through nylon straps (like they have on strollers) in the past.

      Delete
  4. Wow, that exhausted me just reading about it! I was wondering if you've made any close type friends in town? You know, the kind of friends that could help you out?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've made a few friends, but everybody has little ones of their own... and it's really, really hard to leave Mae with anyone safely since it's so hard to understand all the ways she can get into trouble unless you've really seen her in action.

      Delete
  5. Oh man I get it. I only have 2 and I get stressed out about the logistics of it all when we go out. I am all about car seat safety, don't get me wrong, but I have to imagine before all the child car seat laws and such family outings were much easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I'm totally grateful for our car seats, but going out would be so, so much easier if it were safe to just pile everyone in and snap on seat belts!

      Delete
  6. This is an unrelated comment, Cam. I just finished reading Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind's book titled: Life, Animated. It's about his autistic son Owen, now 21, and how Disney movies helped them (and others) reach each other, and helped Owen begin to lead a quasi-independent life. It is moving and interesting --- (and perhaps a little bit scary, but I think you could handle those parts). If you haven't read it, you should.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for this comment. I think I've read an article about his son but I had no idea that there was a book! The article was so good, I definitely want to read the book!

      Delete
  7. Would it possible for Mae/Patch to sit in the front seats (buckled up if needed) while you settle James in? I did with my little monkeys when they were little and I just had to wrangle someone else. The little guys loved being up there and pretending to drive the car. Also, depending on how far your car is from the door of your home, could you buckle up Mae first while other kids stay inside (or Sadie stays in car with Mae while Patch and James wait inside)? I also do that right now with my two youngest as the two year old just figured out walking but can't be trusted to follow along with Mom and baby.
    I never had anyone who would completely take off like Mae might, so I dont know if these tricks would help you. My kids however did not always have a good sense of self preservation so I'm actually more paranoid buckling up in parking lots. The little boys would dance or run around oblivious to the cars that might be driving by.
    Good luck with your little ones!
    PS - Those fire alarms are so tempting to little hands! One of my sons set one off in a children's museum TWICE! The alarm was right above a little bench - just where a curious little monkey of a boy could climb and find it. I never could bring myself to return there. - so embarrassing! Another one set off the alarm at the kids' school last year - bright red and right above eye level - such a temptation! Luckily, they turned it off quickly and understood how it is for small boys of great curiosity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Those were actually the other two possibilities I was toying with. The walking them from the door one by one was my last option if things were really not going well, because I don't love our neighborhood, but putting Patch in the front seat to pretend to drive was one of the options I was thinking of trying. If he hadn't been on my back I definitely would have tried it, but I was having such a tricky time getting him down and Mae was being so good in the moment that I didn't have to do it! It kind of makes me laugh to think of how many contingency plans I had going on in my head for a simple trip out!

      Delete
  8. I don't have a suggestion, but just want to say that I totally get it. When my husband can't help out my first instinct is to cancel all of the plans immediately. If that's not possible, I spend an inordinate amount of time planning the strategy of getting there and home, and keeping the kids occupied in between. Always weighing the pros and cons of all possible scenarios. It's exhausting and I often wonder if I'm over thinking things. But there's always that what if in the back of my mind that makes me finalize the plan before we leave because the what ifs are always terrible. And possibly deadly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can totally relate to the inordinate planning (as you could probably tell from the post). And that my first thought goes to cancelling. Especially if it's something that we haven't missed in a while! If I hadn't forgotten about a ballet class at the end of last year I probably would have called and told them that we couldn't make it.

      Delete
  9. I can relate to all the wrangling! I have piled everyone in the van and climbed in after them and closed the door and then started the buckling process!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! It's one of the many times when I wish I had eight arms!

      Delete

I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!