Today in Boothbay it is -4 degrees. I think we got up to a balmy positive two at one point, but when a friend posted that it is currently warmer at the North Pole than here, I gave up keeping track. I had prepared for this day all week-under no circumstances were we going to leave the house and that was final. So naturally, the Clark family was out and about before 8:30 am.
I don’t want you to think that I gave in or anything. It’s just that the kids are losing their ever loving minds being cooped up in the house due to this ridiculous weather and we had to get out. After Christmas break and then a snow day, followed by a two hour delay, I figured it would be best to get out. After all, we’re running out of things to do. Pictures have been drawn. Forts have been made. Movies have been watched. Crafts and projects have been attempted. We had to do something, even if it meant braving the subarctic temperatures.
Being the exciting parents we are, we thought taking the kids to McDonald’s indoor playground would be a nice idea. Normally I refuse to let my children near the place, and if for some reason they end up there, I promptly disinfect them upon returning home. Today I didn’t care if there were dirty hypodermic needles on the slide; those kids were getting out of the damn house and they were going to PLAY.
Except. They didn’t. Because, heat.
The lovely employees at our local fast food establishment had somehow forgotten to turn on the heat in the indoor playground, thus leaving my children with nothing to do there but eat junk food. And that is exactly what they needed to add to their pent up energy. At one point Ella was doing pirouettes throughout the restaurant and one of the workers kind of side-eyed me. I nodded my head in the direction of the not-functioning playground and we silently called it even.
Since that part of our morning was so much fun, we moved on to our favorite big-box hardware store. Legitimately, I have to tell you that these places can be a LOT of fun with children. You can expose them to all sorts of things they’ve never seen, like model kitchens that are spotless. And washing machines that don’t have piles of clothes waiting to go for a spin. And windows and doors without fingerprints. (Well, now they have some, because Harrison and Ella touched every.single.display door and window in the place. Windex?)
Before we left, I took the kids to the bathroom. This is where I felt genuinely bad for my first-world, incredibly entitled babies. They were HAVING FUN DRYING THEIR HANDS.
We also went to Wal-Mart because we enjoy torture. And while Ella decided that we should practice putting her in and taking her out of the shopping cart for the entirety of our trip, my favorite part was when we could see salvation, and we were in the check-out, just about ready to escape the hell that is this store. That’s when a man came on the loudspeaker announcing that he was giving away free gifts in aisle twelve but only to the first few people, and that we must get there right away. I, for one, do not need any free gifts, and so I ignored this kind gesture of giving and was prepared to move on with my day. Justin, however, insisted that I go to aisle twelve promptly to get our free gift. So, I went to aisle twelve. And I waited. And I waited some more. And there were no free gifts. And then, my family joined me in aisle twelve, along with about half of the other shoppers in the store. There’s nothing I like more than being in Wal-Mart with fifty six of my favorite strangers, standing very close to me, waiting to receive a free gift that I do not want. Once Ella started trying to project herself from the cart independently, I remembered that I had the car keys and we left the building without any notice to the male counterparts in our family, who were still, in fact, waiting for their free gift.
It turns out that it wasn’t really worth the wait (Wow! Who knew!) to get a vegetable slicer (as vegetarians, we own a few of those…) but alas, the family was together again 20 minutes later.
It was now lunch time, which coincides with nap time, but we like a good challenge especially when it involves a hungry and sleepy toddler in a public place. I excused myself to use the ladies room, and when I found that there was a line, I remembered that there was another set of bathrooms downstairs. I snuck down there all proud of myself because I knew this secret trick. And then I realized when I went back upstairs that the door was locked. I panicked for a moment. What if Justin thought I just gave up and ran away? What if people started wondering what was wrong with my digestive system that was taking me so long in the loo? How was I going to get back IN the restaurant without going outside and walking all the way around the building with no coat?? Luckily the woman who got to the upstairs bathroom before me came by and let me in. Unfortunately, I had to explain what I was doing down there and now SHE knows about the secret bathroom.
The good news is that otherwise we came out of lunch generally unscathed. The bad news is that Ella decided that she needed to take three trips to the bathroom during our lunch. This became incredibly irritating, but as I write this, I’m thinking she was hoping to dry her hands again, as that was so much fun back at the hardware store. I’m really hoping the weather warms up soon because I think I owe it to my children to give them more enriching life experiences than using a hand dryer…