Hysteria in the Garden

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the calm before the BOrm

Archer called it in the parking lot as we attempted to unload. Revi didn't want to get out of the car and then she didn't want to walk and then she didn't want to be held and then she didn't want to walk and then she didn't want to be held.

"This isn't a very good sign," he said.

"Don't say that! We're going to have a lovely day full of magic and wonder!"

Meanwhile Revi was swatting at my knees begging me to pick her up and then arching her back to be put down the moment I took her into my arms.


Hal unfolded the stroller as an attempt to solve the puzzle, Alex, but that just offended Revi who wanted Hal to wear her. On his tummy.

Finally, a mere fifteen minutes (and everyone yelling at each other) later, we were on our way/smiling a little bit.
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I explained to Hal's brother that "sometimes it takes us a while to get from the parking lot to our destination." I then assured him it would be smooth sailing here on out.

"We come here all the time. Always a pleasure!"

Twenty minutes into our sojourn, Bo lost her mind when told that the giant tub of apple slices I had packed was NOT for her but for everyone to share.
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In the middle of the serenity of the Chinese Garden, Bo flattened her body against the mosaic tile and screamed at the top of her lungs as patrons gasped and whispered and glared. Not that they weren't wrong to do so. It could not have been a worse place for a child to go boneless while kicking and screaming. Cranes literally flew away. So I did what many parents (would?) do in a very public place during a very epic meltdown: I picked her up to MOVE her to a place that was less congested with people with parasols.

Unfortunately, being Presidents Day, the gardens were much busier than normal so carrying a kicking child down a rather narrow path full of people had me sweating through my clothes while apologizing and pleading with Bo to please calm down for thirty seconds until I could find a clearing... without people... and cranes...  and meditating couples.

Oh but she didn't listen. She. Did. Not. Listen. She just kept screaming louder while saying "OWWWWWWIIIIEEE!" which is what she says when someone picks her up against her wishes.

Not that it didn't probably hurt, banging her head against my shoulder 76 times, but oh, wow, the looks. The looks and the shame and the tears that inevitably come even though you're smiling because really, what else is there to do.

And then I put her down. I needed a break and the kids (who were completely unfazed by the tantrum) had found a little area they wanted to explore really quick. 

Meanwhile, a security guard was sent over to "check on us." He had in his hand a walkie talkie and wanted to know what the problem was, if our "daughter" was okay and whether or not she was ours.

Which, again, I totally get. She's not exactly similar looking to the other three and if you would have seen the way she was kicking me in the boob as I tried to carry her out of the lower garden you might have been inclined to contact security as well.

"I'm sorry about this. We were just leaving."

Shortly after Hal explained to security that we were in the throes of a very inopportune tantrum, I heard a high-pitched scream from across the way. It echoed down the path, its shrieks and wails increasing the closer we climbed.

"Do you hear that, Bo? Someone else is just as pissed off as you are! Let's go find them!"

Moments later, our tantrum crossed paths with that of a little girl with one pigtail (I assume the other was a casualty of the head banging. RIP, pigtail) who was swatting a bench and kicking the dirt as her father looked on.

I tried to catch his eyes, to offer some solidarity but he was too far gone. He turned away and tried to quietly reason with his daughter as Hal called down from a nearby clearing with the rest of our team.

I unloaded Bo from my arms and she continued to "emote" in the dirt while the kids played tag with their uncle and Fable and Revi danced around like absolutely nothing was terrible.
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I'm starting to realize they get it. They realize that sometimes shit happens, that outings are often times cut short and we have to leave. And they're okay with that. They compensate for each other's lemons by joining forces and making lemonade. Which is amazing. Which is something I was unprepared for when we doubled our brood.

Even Revi (who started the outing in full meltdown mode) was asking Fable to dance with her as Bo made snow-angels in the mud, face down while screaming. Kind of like how Bo was a complete angel-baby in the parking lot, walking hand in hand with her uncle and brother as Revi screamed "NO!" to every. single. everything. 

It was almost as if Bo waited for Revi to fully recover into sweetness-and-light mode before she transitioned into a scream machine. The invisible baton was passed between them, like, "Here you go, Bo. Your turn. Go nuts."

...Except Bo's tantrums are 100x Revi's. Her tantrums are award-winning, her strength a modern marvel. You can literally see Bo's six-pack through her dress as she wails. She's like a toddler version of P!NK, flinging herself all over the place, flipping through the air, lifting me over her head and swinging me in circles. Just because it burns/doesn't mean you're gonna die.

And yet, everyone has adapted to this life with her and us and each other. There is no anger when we have to leave early and it wasn't until yesterday that all of this occurred to me. Some days are full of magic and some days are not and we have no idea which is coming, only that we're all in this thing together.

We will undoubtably make plans only to change them, abandon them, leave early..."better luck next time." And that is the greatest life lesson of all.

Plans change.

But that doesn't mean you have to stop dancing...
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...In the dirt, on the way out, in the backseat of the car as we slowly make our way home through traffic...

In the end, the only one who ended up resenting Bo for raining on our parade yesterday was me. I was frustrated that she couldn't hold it together. Nobody else seemed to care.
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Bo never fully recovered. She spent the rest of the day in and out of tears. She woke up with night terrors at 10:30 and sat with me, eyes wide open, for an hour, until finally, I told her she needed to go to sleep now goodnight. 
(She protested, of course, thus waking Revi who joined her in a midnight cacophony of hysterics and OH MY GOD TODAY IS THE WORST DAY, I said out loud in the darkness, glasses askew, heart heavy, soul crushed.) 

And then, eventually, they fell asleep. 

And you know what happened after that?

Today did. 

Miraculous how that happens, right? 

Kind of like those dreams we all had as teenagers where we arrived at school naked and everyone was like, "uh. I can see your butt, dude," and we're like HOW DID THIS HAPPEN WE ARE NAKED AND EVERYONE CAN SEE US NAKED and then we all got to wake up and feel super relieved that it was just a dream.

That is a really accurate description of life, I think. Sometimes we end up naked in public places. Sometimes we show up to school in our underwear. Sometimes we have to take the test we are completely unprepared for. Even though it's TOTALLY unlike us not to prepare for a test and we would NEVER show up to school in our underwear.

But what if we did? What if we have to sometimes? What if there is no right test to study for and showing up to school in our underwear is the only way to learn that we should pack a change of clothes in our proverbial backpacks? 

"Someday we'll look back on days like today and laugh."

Hell, we're already laughing.

(Some days it's all we can do.)