I took my kids to a kiddie music concert at the library yesterday. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable sentence but let me tell you why it’s not. I have three kids. Three. Clearly I am not approaching Duggar status or even John and Kate (John/Kate John or Kate-whatever) family size, but some days three feels like eighteen.
I have an oldest girl who could go anywhere. She walks into a room and has the names of everyone there and at least three play dates set up before I even finish locking the car door.
My Middle One is a bit of a loose canon. He can be delightful. He is kind and loves other kids. He is great at sharing (with everyone except his siblings) and has even perfected the art of losing and winning gracefully.
He is also very sensitive to noise and crowds. When he is tired all sense of reason is out the window (like most of us) and thus is quick to tantrum. He is also really tall for his age. He is four and looks the same as all his sister’s first grade friends. So when he loses his mind in public it is not only physically taxing, but there are all kinds of judgmental fish eyes sent our way. I have gotten over it (mostly) but I still have to fight the urge to yell, “he is only four people -lay off!”.
The Baby is a two year old boy who is… well…two. He wants what he wants when he wants it and you can probably guess what happens if he doesn’t get it. Yeah, it’s not pretty.
The result of this chaos is not that we don’t go out much, it’s that we don’t play with others much. We have people over to our house where it’s contained and I know where the time out spots are. We go out a lot as a foursome to the beach or parks, because I am not mortified if they ruin my good time.
The few times we have gone out with other kids or families or (The Worst) a friend with one kid, I spend most of the time in near panic mode waiting for my kids to unravel and wreck the entire day. It doesn’t always happen, but it has happened enough that I just don’t do it much anymore.
So, it was a Jedi Mind Trick the sweet little Ms. Rosie pulled on me yesterday at theRed Bank Public Library where I went with my toddler in the morning. I was lulled into the false sense of security that comes when you are the mother of more than one spending time with only one. You forget the normal chaos that is your life. You forget that you are usually the crazy screaming lady at the library who is chasing one through the DVD section trying to keep him from grabbing ALL the Spongebob cases while you try to explain to the other one (across the room) that you don’t know how to log him into the computer because you’ve only been to this library once and realizing in the middle of all of it that the oldest has abandoned you and She is having coffee and reading Steinbeck upstairs with the other adult patrons. (She is seven.)
You forget that You because now there is only one kid and because this time you are the the serene, put-together lady who is wearing nice shoes and makeup and quietly playing shape sorter on the floor or even better-actually reading him a book-at the library.
So it was when the nice Ms. Rosie said, “we have a concert here today at 4:30 would you like to come?”.
I had a brief second of terror than answered, “sure if there is room. I’ll have three then”. (No way is there still room.)
There was room. I was stuck.
I spent the rest of the afternoon with my stomach in knots because the Middle One immediately announced after school that he did not want to go to some concert and I realized with the timing of the concert and school pick up it meant The Two Year Old would have no nap.
Dear God what was I thinking?
I contemplated canceling, but Ms. Rosie seemed so excited for us and c’mon I could handle it right? I mean look at these cute shoes. (Which of course I’d have to change into running shoes in order to herd all three.) I decided to be strong and go anyway figuring I could always run out if necessary (with or without them).
You can imagine my horror when I saw it was not only singing, but PROPS. Crap.
I fully expected a scene when I had to leave because someone was screaming because he was forced to give back “his” blow up guitar or shaker toy and the other two who didn’t want to go would have to be forcibly dragged out.
I immediately started sweating.
Presley and Melody, our entertainers, weren’t quite ready yet when we entered the room (more sweating) so the boys changed seats eight times mostly because The Two Year Old wouldn’t sit still and the Middle One kept chasing us both saying, “mom don’t leave me”.
This culminated with The Two Year Old running to the front of the room to touch the makeshift LCD screen and tell Presley who was working the laptop to “click here”.
The Oldest of course was sitting in another section of the room with her BFF Emma whom she met 7.5 second after entering the library. She was content sitting with Emma’s mom who thankfully had no problem adding a third kid to her family (boy do I have a warning for her.)
We finally settled in the last row of chairs (easy exit) and then a funny thing happened. The music started and my two wriggly, stressed out boys were immediately enraptured.
For the first song or two they were silent and still, just staring at the singers at the front of the room. You can tell these boys have been sung (albeit poorly) to sleep since the day they were born.
Then the props came out. There was a puppy parade where the kids got to hold signs with puppies. I could almost feel my heart beat out of my chest with the fear that this wouldn’t end well. I kept prepping the boys with, “you know you have to give these back after the song”. To which I got the two year old’s reply, “no, these are my puppies.”
When the puppy parade was over, they both marched up to the front of the room and… gave back the puppy signs.
And so it went for the rest of the show. They participated. They sang. They played maracas. The Middle One even got brave enough to venture up front and join the dance party (which of course The Oldest was leading with her Shakira-like hip shakes.)
The highlight might have been The Two year old standing in the center aisle with his air guitar jamming away arm 360 style and yelling, “I’m a rock star!”.
I honestly didn’t fully relax until it was over. But I did enjoy it more and more as I watched them not only behave and conform, but have a great time. There is nothing like watching your kids dance and sing that is better for your soul-especially when the song is titled We Appreciate Mommy.
The funny thing about parenting is that once you think you have something figured out, like I did with avoiding large public events, the kids come along and shock you and you have to go figure it out all over again.
Thanks Presley and Melody for a wonderful Thursday afternoon. And thank you babies-for continually shocking me. This post was written exclusively for the New Jersey Moms Blog
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.