After a morning of laundry and housecleaning, I took my two younger kids for a morning adventure: running and shopping. Okay not super exciting, but for me these days (pre-employment) it’s about as exciting as it gets. So the three of us headed for Austin’s beautiful 10 mile running trail around Town Lake or Lady Bird Lake or Colorado River (I still haven’t figured this one out). After a great, exhausting 3 mile run (about 60 pounds of kid to push around), we headed for the great American buy-everything-in-the-world store – Costco.
Despite a less than respectable appearance (basketball shorts, sweaty t-shirt, and a faint stink), I shopped for a few last-minute supplies for our Memorial Day Weekend visit from our only friends in the entire state of Texas. (I’ll not mention their names here on the off chance they’re too embarrassed to know us. I’ll just call them Jis and Chrennifer). With only a few things to buy I figured it’d be an easy trip. Plus we’d get to eat a ton of junk food at the food court for less than seven bucks!
It was hot outside – humid and headed for the low 90s. I loaded the two angels in the jumbo Costco cart and headed for the door. Now Elias has recently reached the stage where he must be able to call the shots. And we too have finally noticed that he is different from our girls. No not skin color or country of birth. He is a boy. Did you know that boys are different from girls? We’ve done the girl thing and we know what to expect. But Elias is not a girl. He makes more noise, is three times as active, throws things, must always have an object to play with, and is almost as strong as me. So immediately he begins screeching (think Pterodactyl) because I have my morning cup of coffee and a shopping list and I’m unwilling to allow him to put either in his mouth. After giving him my sunglasses to play with I make it through the front door with blessed Texas air conditioning.
There are about 15 different sampling tables today so I had to stop at them, right? At the first table, I gave Kiera a sample of bread. Because I distributed the bread "ladies first," Number 1 son began to scream. After the second disastrous sampler attempt, I gave Elias a bottle of formula and rushed to pick up my five or six items. Kiera was displeased that I didn’t stop at each sampler table and began crying (she’s given up her naps, but mostly still needs them). Elias finishes his bottle like he’d been in a drinking contest so he’s able to screech again. With every passing screech, I receive more glares. In the checkout line I notice his shirt, my sunglasses, and his face are covered in regurgitated formula. At some point he had partly rejected his bottle. Apparently he knew he had a hot dog coming and wanted to save some space.
We arrive at the food court. I’m pushing a cart, attending to two small, needy children and holding two hot dogs, a slice of pizza, two empty cups, and an ice cream bar (you’ve got to try them, they’re amazing!). I rudely avoid offering ketchup for Kiera’s hot dog and head straight for the drinks. After we’re seated (Kiera across from me, Elias on my lap), we proceed to pig out. In between bites of pizza, I tear off small bites of hot dog for Elias. Suddenly, Kiera notices that ice cream bar in front of her. Simultaneously, Elias realizes he can grab my Diet Coke, pizza, and ice cream bar instead of patiently waiting for me to allocate his hot dog. Like the world’s fastest chess player, I continuously shuffle said food items out of the reach of four quick, little hands. My hand attempts to mute the dinosaur throughout the incessant wails. His 5 sharp teeth don't like this one bit. It’s a losing battle. Once Kiera has completely ditched her hot dog (which has been strangled like an old tube of toothpaste) and Elias has commenced beating his hot dog like a drum set, I surrender. As they say here, I “up and went.” The floor was a “yard sale” – stuff everywhere. Our clothes were canvasses displaying food art. My resolve was weakened. My pride was shattered. Any attempt at being the cool dad with his cute kids in tow was lost. As I glanced at those staring at me, I knew what they were thinking. “Where is their mother?”
We headed for the exit where I’d soon see the minivan, the chariot that would soon deliver us to the cave of solace (home). I put Kiera in the cart and held Elias on my sweat, slobber, spit-up, hot dog covered arm. Once in my arms I remembered how blessed I am to care for these children. He too was thankful. Once he was held, he gave me the gift of silence…and then I smelled that faint, foul smell emanating from his diaper - another token of his appreciation.