• adventures in babysitting,  Beach Bits,  illos

    A Perfect Day for a Picnic

    A Perfect Day for a Picnic

    I took the Things on a picnic today. The weather was grand. It was a perfect day for a picnic. It was a perfect day for little kids at the beach. They arrived at 11:30 and we packed a perfect picnic lunch in my perfect picnic basket that my mom gave me on my wedding day. (Five years later, I’m finally using it for a real picnic instead of just storing yarn in it.) I opted not to use the carefully packed insulated lunch box that the Thing’s mother packed for them, because it wasn’t perfect enough. Never mind that it fit in the handy dandy stroller pocket and my perfect picnic basket did not… I needed a perfect picnic basket for the perfect picnic. After all, I do have the perfect red and white checked table cloth and the perfect sun dress and the perfect sun hat! What could be more perfect! Thing Two was perfectly content to have the perfect picnic basket sit on the canopy above her head.

    All was wonderful at the beach. It was perfect. Except maybe that the Things don’t exactly understand the concept of sand yet. They are only three and two. They wanted to wash it off their hands in the waves but then when they sat back down to eat their honey and butter sandwiches, they immediately put their wet hands right back into the sand. Back and forth we went, washing and getting covered with sand and then washing again. Thing Two was beside himself. He started crying and rubbing his sandy hands in his eyes. I tried my best to clean him up with a paper towel but there just is no winning with the sand.

    Then they decided they wanted their pants rolled up so they could wade in the little waves farther to wash their hands. Their mom had dressed them in long pants and long sleeved shirts because they are fair skinned and burn easily. So I slathered them in sun block and rolled their designer pants all the way up to their thighs for good measure. What I didn’t foresee was that they would squat down to look at the waves and get washed in the butt by the incoming waves. Rolling their pant legs up did no good at all. Now I had wet kids with sand every where. My visions of returning them perfect in their perfect designer clothes were quickly evaporating.

    Finally, exhausted by all the sand, we packed up our perfect half eaten lunch and hauled it all back to the stroller. Did I mention that the stroller weighs two tons and that it does not wheel on sand and that it’s a huge ass pain to push up hill? We live on a bluff and the beach is down hill. So that means going home is going up hill. Up up up up hill. After a fun day at the beach it is not a fun day or a picnic to push the gigantic ass pain stroller back up the hill. “Faster! Faster!” They yell at me. “Run Brenda! Run! ” they shout like I’m some kind of super nanny. I tell them to sit back down and try to hold still.

    Thing One informs me that her wet sandy designer pants are rubbing her “rashes”. She does have eczema so I let her peel off her wet sandy pants and sit in her underwear. She is so excited to be out and about in her panties that she decides she wants to show the world her “bum” and she turns around in her stroller seat so her butt is sticking up in the air. I am dying a thousand deaths.

    Then Thing Two starts crying. He wants his pants off too. He also needs a nap and nothing will make him happy. We stop at the top of the hill to buy some lemonade from two cute little girls selling it for their own Tsunami Relief collection fund. We get three dentist-office-sized dixie cups for 75 cents. Their mother looks on proudly from her air conditioned black SUV. Thing Two decides he doesn’t want his lemonade and he throws his paper cup under the stroller wheels as I’m pushing it across the street. I’m sweating like a pig. My perfect sun hat is becoming the perfect sweaty tourniquet on my sweaty smelly head. I’m balancing the perfect picnic basket that is now slipping off the top of the stroller because Thing Two is sticking her butt up in the air instead of sitting perfectly in her seat. I try to pick up the discarded paper cup but cars are coming and this circus I’m pushing is quickly going completely out of control. I try not to scold too much but Thing Two’s whimpering is threatening to turn into an all out tantrum.

    I bribe them with hot chocolate from Starbucks. Starbucks is our way back to my house which is still a good thirty minutes away. I know it will be a nightmare getting them in and out of a public establishment, half clothed and crabby, but the thought of the strong forces of an iced latte gives me hope. So I press on. I spend ten minutes prepping them on proper Starbucks behavior. I tell them that they must stay in the stroller and have smiles on their faces. If they want to get out of the stroller, Thing One must put her pants back on.

    The horror! She does NOT want to put her pants back on. Just thinking about her “rashes” touching her wet sandy pants makes her lip quiver. So she stays in the stroller and practices her smile the rest of the way.

    My plan works brilliantly. I roll them into Starbucks and they smile like clams at all the customers in line. Of course my order for child’s hot cocoa gets mixed up three times but in the end we all have cups in our hands and smiles on our faces. Never mind that there is sweat dripping down my face and I’m dying to take off my perfect sun hat. Never mind that now the Things have sand and tears AND hot chocolate running down their half naked bodies. We are refreshed. The rest of the way we discuss my cats and how they are going to wash up when we finally get back to my house. As we walk, I shake their pants madly, hoping they will dry and become magically clean by the time their mother picks them up.

    Just as I’m pushing them up the alley to my house, the Thing’s mother pulls up. I have no time to do anything, not even blow the top layer of sand off her stroller. Her stroller is completely trashed. Thing Two needs a clean diaper. Thing One is running up my stairs after my cat. I look like sweaty hell.

    But then something magic happened. Thing One and Thing Two turned around and started yammering excitedly to their mother all about their fun day at the beach. And really that’s what I wanted. I wanted them to remember what fun it is to go to the beach on a perfect day for a picnic. Just like I remember my mom taking me when I was their age. They won’t remember all that unperfect stuff.