Until recently, I avoided taking my girls out in public as much as possible. Too stressful. Too scary. Too many factors outside my control. What if they ran off in a parking lot and got run over? Or kidnapped? What if they wander off in a crowded store? What if we get in a car accident? Or, most likely, what if they have a monster meltdown on the floor of a…wait for it…nasty public bathroom? Ew. I forgot about those. Babies R’ Us, a place that’s supposed to cater to the family types quite possibly has the worst restrooms, and don’t get me started on the “nursing” rooms, that seem perpetually covered in trash and poopy diapers.
Ok, so enough about the dangers of leaving the house with my children. I’m now starting to see the benefits. Perhaps it’s boredom, perhaps it’s bravery, but I’ve started taking my girls on “adventures” a LOT lately, and I’m warming up to the idea of not living as a recluse. Oh, and there’s the money factor. I’ve been working my booty off lately (well, not literally, but that would be nice), to put a little more spending money in our bank account so we can splurge on things like eating out and extra gas in the tank to actually go places.
Tonight, I was feeling a bit of cabin fever after being cooped up with my preschooler all day while I worked from home. (A friend was kind enough to take the toddler, God bless her.) We’d been stressing each other out, her wanting my undivided attention, and me just needing her to entertain herself for hours on end (impossible, I know). At one point, she retaliated against my never-ending client phone call by sneaking up and sticking her tongue up my NOSTRIL while I was talking! Imagine. Could you maintain your composure if this happened to you? Somehow, I did, but still managed to communicate with her through wild hand gestures and angry mommy eyes. Not. Cool.
So I loaded them up and took them to dinner at a small-town pizza place/bowling alley about 20 minutes away. Just me and my girls. Off on another one of our adventures. We sat down with our large pepperoni and black olive pie (after visiting their SPOTLESS bathroom, thank you very much) at a ledge overlooking the eight-lane bowling alley. A group of girls, I’m guessing they were 12 or 13, were the only bowlers, and my oldest daughter wanted a front-row seat. She was mesmerized.
“Mommy, can I bowl someday?”
Sure, honey, when you’re older.
“How old? Like their age? How old are they?”
I think they’re in middle school.
“Okay. I’ll go bowling in middle school!”
We ate our slices (which were very, very good), and then something strange and wonderful happened. My girls suddenly started cheering (and booing) LOUDLY for these girls we didn’t know. “Yay! You did it!,” soon followed by, “Oh man! That’s not good at all!” The young kid who went to fix the pin grabber thingy (technical term) several times even got a standing ovation from my toddler. “Hooray! You fixed it!” It was fun. And funny. Until it was time to go. My youngest, not one to ever miss out on the fun, showed her unwillingness to leave by RUNNING out onto the hardwood lane, flinging herself down on the floor, and screaming, ” I wanna BOWL!! I wanna BOWL!!”
Oddly, nobody reacted to these shenanigans. Not the young girls, not their parents, not the bowling alley employees. Perhaps this is a common event, either with diaper-wearing two-year-olds, or older patrons who’ve had too much to drink. I scooped her up, and we somehow made it safely to the car. (I did get an “I’ve been there before honey” smile from a kind woman in the parking lot.)
While preparing to give baths after arriving home, my preschooler revolted. “I don’t want a bath! I want to be stinky forever!” We finally compromised on washing her hair in the sink and giving her a sponge bath. Whatever gets the job done. I took the time while washing her hair as a “teachable moment,” and started explaining all sorts of facets of personal hygiene to her. You see, I had terrible acne during puberty (and beyond), and I’ll do my best to educate my girls on skincare.
“When will I get pimples, mommy?”
Well, I hope you don’t get any, but you probably will start getting them in middle school.
“Hooray! Then I can go bowling!!!”
((insert sound of a mother’s snorting laughter here))
And that right there, my friends, is why you should dare take your kids into the great, wonderful, sometimes scary place that is known as “public.” Yes, it’s stressful. And yes, it’s sometimes scary. But the pros outweigh the cons, and the delightful memory of this conversation with my daughter in the bathroom made the whole experience worth it.