Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where's your ticket home?

Why is it so difficult to leave the house with kids? I start to sweat about an hour before I know I have to be somewhere. Inevitably, something goes wrong. Today, for example, Hazel didn't want to change out of her princess dress to go to the library. I refuse to let her go public with her dress-up obsession--there simply has to be boundaries. I fed and dressed Charlotte, warning Hazel that in twenty minutes we were leaving without her. Ten minutes and we're heading out the door; young lady if you don't have your dress on in five minutes, I'm leaving you here alone! (she's too smart to fall for that anymore).

Crunch time hits and I'm carrying Charlotte around with me so she won't cry as I go up and down the stairs, gathering diapers, shoes, library books, my library card, a binky. Hazel is sitting on the couch with her Cinderella dress still on, her arms folded across her chest. I weigh my options of giving up and staying home or using brute force. Finally I decide that I've already invested too much energy into this trip to stop now.

I strip her dress off while bribing her with fruit loops, trying everything to keep her as calm as possible and avoid a major tantrum. We're almost out the door. I'm dying of thirst so I grab a quick drink. I see the bottle I made for Charlotte in the fridge and throw it in the microwave as I try to stuff her into the baby carrier. Her legs get stuck in the arm holes and she starts to cry as I clench my jaw and suppress the urge to throw this cheap carrier onto the floor, yelling at Hazel to put her shoes on for the eighth time.

We finally make it out the door, onto the bus, and to the library. One hour later, when all is said and done, I realize that I forgot to grab my transfer ticket. I have no more cash. We're several blocks from home and I don't have a stroller. Hazel is wilting with hunger and fatigue and won't last the long walk home. Surely the bus driver will take one look at us and be sympathetic.

We make it to the bus stop and wait. As the bus arrives, I take Hazel's hand, balancing our library books, the diaper bag, and Charlotte and make my way up the steps. I quickly explain my situation to the bus driver and ask "So can I get on?" There's some hesitation, lack of eye contact, and eventually he says, "Not without your transfer."

Too shocked and offended to argue with the man, I say quietly, "Fine. I'll walk." We get off the bus and head towards home. Hazel begins to cry, and refuses to walk any farther. I consider joining her; don't I have every right to throw a tantrum at this point? I know we won't make it all the way home. I would have to carry Hazel, kicking and screaming, on top of the bag, the books, and the baby. Impossible.

I call my husband. Surely he will have a miraculous solution for my plight. I tell him my story and he sympathizes, but there's nothing he can do. He suggests trying to get on the next bus. We slowly make our way to the next stop and by this point Haze's nose is running and her tears are falling down her neck. She's a wreck, Charlotte is fussing, and I'm on the verge of a losing it. This is when I become mean. I'm a few yards ahead of Hazel, barking at her to keep up. The second bus finally pulls up and this time I'm ready for a fight. If this man says no, I will stand my ground and let him have it. Do not mess with an angry mother with tired and hungry children.

Lucky for me, he was the nicest bus driver this side of Harrison Blvd. He said, "Of course, no problem." Then he asked if it was the bus driver just before him who told me no. When I said yes, he nodded knowingly, as if the other guy has a reputation for unkindness. This when I became nice again to my kids and tuck Hazel's hair behind her ears, telling her sweetly that we are almost home.

Crisis over. Needless to say, tomorrow we're staying at home. All day.
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