Sunday, July 05, 2009

Parading in the Rain

I forgot to look at the weather forecast for Saturday. We had two stops, first lunch at DOB's parents, then a large picnic at a friend's home. Before we left DOB's parents', rain was falling--not the usual summer downpour that would clear up in half an hour, but a cold, steady, all-day rain.

This probably should have been our cue to head home. I had not packed jackets or even shoes. (Why waste one's life trying to keep shoes on creatures who will simply lose them? The ducklings do not usually wear shoes from April to October. I usually do if I'm going out in public, but I had had stepped on a bee the day before and thought shoes would be uncomfortable.) But we did not head home.

We arrived at the picnic. The meal was hosted on the upper deck of a simple covered stadium overlooking a Little League field (These people have three baseball fields in their backyard. And a lot of other cool stuff which does not come into the story because it never stopped raining.) We dashed through the mud and up the stairs and then DOB left to try to park the car. The upper deck had a railing clearly designed for keeping parents of Little League players from accidentally stepping off, not for containing inquisitive toddlers. So I devoted myself to keeping the twins alive.

When DOB arrived back, D1 decided she needed to go potty. There was one outdoor bathroom. I dashed across the muddy parking area with her and D3, who needed a diaper change. Fortunately there was an awning under which the line was forming. Unfortunately there were a lot of people who had been swimming or playing baseball in the rain who also wanted to use the bathroom. There were also two portapotties, but of course everyone would rather stand in line for thirty minutes than use them. (For the record, I would have used them, but could not see how to fit three people in one at the same time.)

We all finally met back up with the male contingent of the family, at which time we were perishing with hunger. Fortunately they just then opened up the food line. We were looking forward to the arrival of DOB's family, who would help play pass-the-baby, but we were too hungry to wait. DOB suggested I go through the line alone and get a plate or two to tide us over. But then the older ducklings wanted to come and I figured they could at least carry their own plates, and then D4 whimpered for me, and we wound up all going through the line together. Four kids, five plates, two grownups. We made it as far as the fried chicken and the plates started collapsing and we decided just to give up and find somewhere to sit.

Perhaps for parents whose children also spent a lot of time on the bench, there was a weight bench sitting nearby. We determined to impress this into service as an impromptu table. It had the disadvantage of being at easy baby height and extremely narrow, but it had the overwhelming advantage of being (a) partially horizontal and (b) right where we were standing as we were about to drop babies and food. We lined all the plates up more or less precariously along the bench, sat down with babies in lap and were about to try to eat when observation informed us that D2 now needed to go potty.

There are a few things that D2 does not handle well. Crowds are one, noise is another, and getting wet in the rain is the third. He had already had about enough of the first two, and it took some persuading to convince him to try the third, no matter how urgent the need. By running with him through the mud and rain and by pointing out the excellent opportunity to select desserts on the way back, I was able to persuade him to try it. Fortunately by this time the bathroom line had evaporated.

D2 and I returned with desserts. Of course DOB had been holding two babies all this time, so he had not yet had anything to eat. We parceled out the babies and began the interesting task of trying to hold a plate in one hand, a baby in the other, and somehow feed the baby and ourselves. I managed better than DOB, but my skirt will probably bear permanent testimony to the cost.

At about this juncture DOB's extended family began to trickle in, and we gratefully began to pass the babies about. It's amazing, however, how many adult laps two babies can occupy, especially when the food must also go in your lap. We managed through the rest of the meal, though, until the critical moment when D2 tried to eat his long-anticipated cupcake. For reasons of his own, he felt that his napkin needed to be under the plate while he ate the cupcake, but in the confusion we did not realize what he was trying to do. While executing this operation unassisted, he tipped the cupcake off, icing-down, onto the filthy deck.

This was a tragedy, and it was not helped by the discovery that the cupcakes were all gone (except for a thoughtless person who had taken two bites from one and set it back on the dessert table). I finally persuaded him to take two small cookies instead of one cupcake.

After the meal things were a little simpler, with only three more potty runs to execute, a lot of mud, and, of course, keeping the babies from diving through the gaps in the railing. A good time was had by all, and a good bath once we got home.

I believe Frank Gilbreth once was asked, "Are all these kids yours, or is it a picnic?" He replied, "They're all mine, and believe me, it's no picnic."

Not even when it is a picnic.

1 comment:

Steve said...


Not a whole lot more to say. Glad you all survived.