The day I decided never to leave the house again went like this:
We start the process of getting ready to go. That means I start hunting for Zoe’s shoes. I find a lot of single shoes, but no pairs. But finally, under her bed, two of the same shoe. Great. Let’s get them on. I run down the stairs to find my girl, holding the shoes aloft. Triumphant.
Zoe doesn’t share my sense of accomplishment. In fact, she flips out. These aren’t the shoes she wants to wear. I wrestle her onto my lap and get the shoes on. She is wailing. Now she has thrown herself on the floor in a full, stretched-out tantrum, a 3-year-old in all her toddler glory. I try to explain I can’t find the shoes she wants to wear. She’s not listening though, caught in this whirlwind of shoe angst. Whatever. I tell her if she wants to, she can go find the shoes she wants to wear while I get Maxie ready. She jumps up and runs off, instantly happy again. “I be right back,” she says.
Maxie’s turn. Amazingly, I know where his shoes are, which is good because he only owns one pair. I get them on with little problem, and decide to go ahead and put on his jacket. I also wrestle on his hat, which he immediately snatches back off and giggles. Knowing I have no prayer since it’s now a game, I shove the hat in my pocket. He toddles off happily as I go to the stairs to yell to his sister to come back down. I hear noises that aren’t consistent with a 3-year-old trying to find her shoes. I clomp up the stairs, hot now, as I have on my jacket and boots already.
Sure enough, I find her sprawled out on my bed listening to Hansel and Gretel on the iPad. There are no shoes on her feet, which she is waving in the air.
I grab her up, turn off Hansel and Gretel, and carry her back downstairs. Then I remember the shoes and run back up again. By the time I find them — tangled in the sheets on our bed — and start down again, Max is almost to the top of the stairs, a sippy cup swinging from his mouth.
I carry him back down. Zoe is now building a tower with Legos, still with no shoes and no jacket. I nestle her into my lap and put on her shoes. Again. The same ones we started with. This time she has no problem with them. Then her jacket. “Just me Just me!” she yells when I start zipping her up. She’s in the “I do it” phase, which means everything takes an extra half hour. I let her wrestle with the zipper while I load up the car with the diaper bag, snacks, and drinks.
OK. I’m ready to get the kids in the car. Where are they? Max is in the kitchen, his pants covered in water from the dumped dog bowl. Oh Max. I scoop him up and we run back up the stairs, him giggling the whole way. I take off his shoes, change his pants, finding a poopy diaper in the process. I change it, get a new pair of pants on him, get his shoes back on and take him back down. I carry him straight to the car and strap him in. He’s happy, a graham cracker in one hand and his sippy cup in the other. I put on his hat while his hands are occupied. It stays in place.
Now for Zoe. I come back inside, and yell for her. I hear a response, but no little feet running my way. “I have idea,” she yells, her new favorite saying. I find her up in her chair at the kitchen counter, demanding lunch. It’s 9:30 in the morning. She refused to eat breakfast, I remind her. “I have idea,” she repeats. “I want spaghetti and chocolate milk.” Um, no. I promise her graham crackers and water. Amazingly she is agreeable to this. I pick up her jacket off the floor, put it on her, leave it unzipped, and carry her to the car. She is happy now, chattering about Maxie and kitty cats. I strap her in to the car seat give her the promised food and drink.
We’re off. Wait, where’s my car keys? Swearing not-so-silently at myself, I begin the search. They’re not on the hook where they’re supposed to be. They’re not on the bookshelf right inside the door where they usually are. They’re not on the kitchen counter. I run upstairs, starting to get frantic now, as I have two kids in their car seats in a cold garage. There they are. In my jeans I wore yesterday.
I run downstairs, in a full sweat, and jump in the car. Both kids are happy in the backseat. Zoe is singing what sounds like “Happy Birthday” to her graham cracker. I open the garage door and we back out. We drive a few blocks when Zoe says:
“Mama, I have idea. I have to go potty.”
And that is when I decide we will never leave the house again.