When you have a large family, or even just a kid or two, leaving the house can be a bit of an ordeal. This is especially true if the entire family is trying to go somewhere at the exact same time. You can triple the stress if the whole family is trying to go to some type of event where we have to look nice or bring something. I thought you might enjoy a peek at a large family getting ready to go to an event where we have to look nice and bring something. Get some popcorn; this may take a while.
The preparations start roughly two weeks before the event with a phone call. It is The Pastor calling to tell me that we have been invited to an event. He is very excited for a chance to be around other people and do lots of talking. I am very excited at the prospect of not having to make dinner. I hang up the phone and immediately a crisis breaks out. I hear someone scream “MOM!” and then a long tearful description of some horrible event. It may be something as dreadful as “She’s wearing my socks!” or even worse “I’m done on the potty and there’s no toilet paper!”. Somehow, using my superhuman powers, I manage to put out all the fires. I also manage to COMPLETELY forget that The Pastor has even called.
The day before the event, usually around 11:00pm, The Pastor will casually ask me what I made/bought for the event. This is the part where I get to do my very best impression of a deer crossing the street. Stop, stare, and wait for the impact. I have two choices here. I could ask “What event was that again?” and listen to The Pastor tell me how sad he is that I never listen to him, or I can ask sneaky questions until I figure it out. It is 11:00 pm and as much as I hate to make The Pastor feel sad, I am too tired for the 20 questions game. I ask. He says “You weren’t listening again! I can’t believe you weren’t listening! Why can’t you just…” “Look,” I say “it’s late. We could sit here and discuss how you may or may not have actually told me about this event, or we could cut to the chase and you could just tell me what I need to make or buy and where I need to be.” He gives up. He knows I am a hopeless case. He also knows that if he keeps pointing out the obvious I will turn into Angry Wife. Angry Wife is no fun at parties.
The next morning The Pastor will call and remind me one more time about the event. When he does this I will think Oh crap! That’s right! but what I will say is ” *sigh* Yes, I remember. I’m not a complete idiot.” I am a complete idiot. I now do everything in my power to remember to buy or make the thing. Spoiler alert: I will forget.
I will now spend the rest of the day trying to get my kids clean and keep them that way. This is a far greater challenge than it sounds. I have three boys and two girls. The three boys will end up grass stained and covered in dirt, or worse, and daughter number one will end up covered in paint while daughter number two will somehow get her hands on a sharpie and decide that today is the day we experiment with facial tattoos.
One hour before the event. All of the children are clean and dressed. Dressed appropriately, even. I feel like I’m spinning plates in a Chinese circus. “Okay.” I say. “I’m going to quick go and get ready. I need you guys to go put on your shoes, go to the bathroom, and get in the car. Do you think you can handle that?” My children are all of average intelligence and over the age of five. They all possess the skills to handle this. What they do not possess is the motivation. “Yes” they all say, as if I am asking them if they possess the skills to breathe.
I get ready. It takes me fifteen minutes tops. You are thinking Snarky, you said you had an hour. You could at least put a little effort into it. Believe me, everyone who sees me will be thinking the same thing, but I know what is coming next. I exit the bathroom, half dressed to see that my children have NOT gone to the bathroom, are NOT wearing shoes, and are definitely NOT in the car. They are screaming, chasing, and wrestling each other all over the house. As I gather the children in the living room I notice that a few things have changed. Firstborn has decided that a clean shirt is unacceptable. He has changed into a stained wrinkled t-shirt that he pulled out of the laundry hamper because it has stick men on it and he prefers his stick man shirt. Second Son has injured himself and is now bleeding, usually from the face. Spitting Image has gone from a modest dress to a tank top and Daisy Duke shorts because she’s too hot. It can be thirty five below zero out but that child is still complaining that she is too hot. Huggy Girl has removed her tights because they are restricting and she is a free spirit, and Baby Snarky is covered in food. Through clenched teeth I calmly say “You have ten minutes.” Fifteen minutes later they return. They all look acceptable (barely) and some look rather eccentric. Nobody looks even remotely like they did a half an hour ago.
I take a deep breath. This is as good as it’s going to get. I send them off one by one to go to the bathroom. Then the great hunt for shoes begins. Firstborn will choose this moment to inform me that he absolutely does not have any shoes that fit. He has grown out of his shoes and cannot possibly squeeze into them one more time. This is the first I have heard about it. Probably. I inform him that nobody needs feet larger than a size fourteen. He is simply going to have to remain a size fourteen and squeeze into those shoes. I may recommend that he research the ancient art of foot binding. Second Son reminds me that he recently mowed the lawn in his dress shoes so now they’re all grass stained. Not event appropriate. Second Son is at a disadvantage because I have big feet. Big feet that are exactly the same size as his. I offer a pair of my shoes. He sighs and decides that his Doc Martin boots might work. Spitting Image has snuck out the door and gotten into the car so that she can sit in the coveted middle seat. I did not catch that she is wearing worn ratty flip flops. I will notice this about half way through the event. I now must spend ten minutes discussing with Huggy all the reasons why I will not let her wear slippers or plastic dress up high heels to the event. Eventually I win. She gets into the car barefoot.
The Pastor now enters the room, looks at me and says “Maybe you should wear a shirt.” I look down. Darn it! I run up to my room and grab a shirt. It may or may not match my other clothes. I race down and get into the car where The Pastor asks me “Why doesn’t Firstborn have any shoes that fit?” I raise my eyebrows, open my eyes very wide, clench my teeth and tilt my head to one side. “Just drive.” I hiss. Half way down the driveway I turn around and see four faces smiling sweetly at me. Four faces. Wait. I have five children. At least, I think I do.
Back into the house I race upstairs shouting for Baby Snarky. I find him sitting on the floor of his room. He is singing and playing with his trucks. He is also naked. I grab the first clothes I see on the floor and stuff Baby Snarky into them. More often than not it is a pair of angry bird pajama bottoms and his sister’s shirt. I no longer care. I stuff him under one arm and run down the stairs like I’m posing for the Heisman Trophy. I stop to grab his shoes. I go through eight pairs of his shoes before I realize that he only seems to have one shoe from each pair. It’s okay, he can just be trendy and wear mismatched shoes. Problem. All I can find are left shoes. “Sweety,” I say in a very sing songy voice “where are all of your right shoes?” “They are hiding!” he announces proudly. I continue to use my sing songy voice because if I don’t I might explode, and that would just be one more mess I’d have to clean up. “Darling,” I say “where are your right shoes hiding?” Baby Snarky smiles like an angel at me and says “I can’t tell you that! If I did I wouldn’t be a very good hider, would I.” My voice now makes that ever so slight shift from June Cleaver to Satan “Find your shoes and get them on your feet. Right. Now.”
Ten seconds later I am shoving Baby Snarky in the car. I sit down, buckle up and stare intensely straight ahead. The Pastor knows better than to ask about Baby Snarky’s outfit. About a mile down the road The Pastor asks “So, what did you make/buy?” I clench my teeth. The pastor shakes his head sadly and sighs. “It’s okay,” he says “there’s a Target on the way.” Then, from the back seat “I have to go potty…”
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