Previously: I had finally made it out of the house and headed to the bus stop with both kids and our 'luggage' for the day and was in the process of missing the bus.
We made the bus, thanks to some slow boarders and a red light in our favor, and Little G had to get off the scooter because I can't get the stroller into the bus with it in use. He promptly declared that we were never to go that fast again and got on the bus. I paid our fare and looked up and all the seats were taken. Little G had NO idea what to do, so I looked at everyone and loudly said, "he's only two and a half, someone is going to HAVE to get up and let him sit down". Of course, the person-least-deserving-to-have-to-give-up-their-seat, an older woman, got up for us for which I thanked her profusely. At this point, I was sweating like a hog and the bus, which usually, in warm weather, is blowing out icicles from its vents, apparently still had its heat on. I looked over at Little G and noticed that he was covered on his arms, his cheeks and his neck, with bumpy hives! I asked him if they were itchy and he said no...so I made a mental note to keep an eye on them and prayed they were nothing serious. I was so glad when we finally pulled into the last stop. It was 10:05am.
As we walked through the T station, Little G immediately recognized that this is where we go to take the trains, so he wanted to go find one. He was also quick to point out the birds in the building, probably in the same sentence as the trains...you know, because he's two like that. I explained that we couldn't go to the train because we were going to our next place on our adventure, but when we were done with that, maybe we could go ride the train. Besides, we could watch Thomas when we got inside the building we were going to. There was some whining, including a repeat of the previous 'I don't want Thomas' silliness, but I was walking so fast (not too fast...I had been scolded, you know) that I think he just held on for the ride. It was about a 5 minute walk to the courthouse.
When we got there, I parked our stroller at the top of the building-wide steps and proceeded to get a bottle ready for the Ladybug. I also got out a huge cup of 'different rabbits' (the graham cracker bunnies which are clearly 'different' than the cheese ones and thus aptly named as such in our house) for Little G. We sat calmly on the concrete steps of the courthouse (except for one moment when the Ladybug may or may not have spit up half her lunch on the steps) watching the traffic go by with everyone in our small party happily eating their morning snacks...except me. It is a cardinal rule that the more stuff you bring on an adventure with your kids, the less you will remember to bring for yourself. I had nary a granola bar nor any water for myself and the coffee and flakey cereal I had at 7:15 in the morning felt like a loooooong time ago.
I kept my eye on my watch and finished feeding the Ladybug with about 15 minutes to get into the courthouse. As I started to load her up into my Moby, knowing that she was fully rested and fully fed and thus most likely NOT going to fall asleep anytime soon, I realized that Little G had wandered back down the steps with the blanket I had and was furiously scrubbing away at the spit up the Ladybug had left earlier. Score 1 for awesome preschool - mental note: don't use that blanket again until after its been dipped in bleach and washed an/or burned because, ew.
We headed into the courthouse and into an area the width of the door and the length of the stroller and started the process of getting everything OUT of the stroller to place it on the metal detecter belt. Of course, I had to walk both my kids through separately, put the Ladybug back in the stroller and then step through myself without wearing her. Which was annoying, but I didn't protest. I was almost in the clear and the security guard said, "maam, do you have a phone with you?"
Now remember, written in BIG BOLD RED LETTERS on my court document it said NO CELL PHONES, but I had called ahead to get permission for the iPod touch that was in the bag. I DID also have my cell phone (there's no way in hell I would leave my home with two small children on an adventure like this without it), but figured he meant the one clearly wrapped up in headphones so I took it out and showed it to him. I was explaining that I talked to someone yesterday and they said it was ok and he just kept pointing out all of the signs that were around that not only said NO CELL PHONES but also NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES. Oops. I knew Little G was on the fence about Thomas anyway, but couldn't afford to have them confiscate the iPod, so I begged and pleaded and tried my darndest to come up with the name of the woman I had spoken to on the phone...note to self...get the name, always get the name!!
Eventually, the security guard had a line behind me and he finally just asked me for my paperwork. I reached into the bag to grab it and realized, pretty quickly, that it was sitting in a bright orange (bright so that I would be less likely to leave it behind) folder...on my kitchen counter. This is when I may or may not have started to lose my shit. I asked the guard if he had children and explained to him that getting out of the house that day with two children was shaping up to be one of the hardest things I had done in a while and then I actually said, "I think I'm going to cry"...to which Little G came scampering back from his tour of high-fiving every police officer in the foyer to say solemly, "please don't cry, mommy" and the security guard just looked at me like I was nut-so and calmly pointed me toward my courtroom and said that I would have to explain the iPod touch to them and to not worry about the paperwork.
So we headed down the hallway in the general direction of where he had pointed and sat down on a bench outside a courtroom. Thankfully about 30 seconds later, the security guard came down the hall and pointed out to me that I was in front of the wrong courtroom and led me to the correct one. There was a small vestibule in front of the courtroom where I was able to stash the stroller and I grabbed the Ladybug, but didn't have time to Moby wrap her (though I was still wearing it) and Little G and I entered the room.
It. was. packed. And hot. And did I mention packed? And the size of a large bathroom. We fumbled and bumbled our way to the lady at the desk and I told her I didn't have my paperwork. I tried to remain hushed, but it was rather impossible to NOT be heard by the 20 other people sitting literally within a 5 foot radius of where I was standing. While I was explaining my paperwork situation, Little G was quietly, and effectively pushing things over on the ledge of her desk. I caught his hand and pointed to a chair for him to sit in and once I got the go ahead from the woman, I headed to the chair next to him...but not before knocking over something else on her desk with my diaper bag.
I sat down with Little G and pulled out the stickers!! and the paper!! and gave them to Little G and suggested that he put ALL the stickers on the paper - and THANK GOD he sat there bound and determined to get every sticker off that sheet. Less than 30 seconds after sitting down, they declared the session started and BOOM, called me first. (Hey - there apparently IS a benefit to showing up at the court with two small kids and crazy-mom hair).
I still hadn't gotten the Ladybug into the Moby, so I was just holding her in my arms while I explained what happened that day. My voice was shaking from all the adrenaline, from the hunger, from the freaking heat, from having no time to prepare, from not having my printed pictures and maps with me, from the general oddity of having to speak in a public forum of complete and total strangers that are all glaring at me from five feet away because I literally just walked in the room and now they've called me first. I talked about how the police officer wasn't noticeable and that obviously, I had my children's best interest as well as the best interest of my community in mind when I made the call to go around the utility truck and thus drive on the wrong side of the road, and she said, "Well obviously! This is thrown out, you are free to go".
It was such a fast, short process (we literally were in the room less than 5 minutes) I almost didn't know what to do...but I wasn't going to stick around, so I grabbed our bag and told Little G we were done and needed to take our stickers outside and go find the train and he lept up from his chair and raced me out of the courtroom and down the hall. I quickly thanked the security guard and we headed to back to the train station.
I'd love to end here...and I should because this is ridiculously long...but the thing about kids is that no matter how tricky the logistics are of a situation...its just one part of one day and it was only 11:15 at this point! We still had so much left to do!
Once we were on the Orange line it dawned on me that the Ladybug needed to be changed and I needed food and HAD to go to the bathroom. So I made the decision to ride the train into the city where we could get off at the Macy's and use their facilities. Sadly, the whole world knows about the lovely bathrooms on the third floor of the Macy's so it was a steady stream of people and loud flushing and even louder hand dryer blowing. Little G was totally traumatized (he doesn't like loud noises) and was cowering in my legs while I changed the Ladybug. I dragged us into a handicapped stall so I could go potty and he begged me over and over again, "please don't flush the toilet, mommy. Please don't flush!"
Don't worry...I flushed. And I also washed and dried my hands. And I am also aware that the odds of getting him to EVER go potty in a public restroom are now slim to none.
Once back on the street, I grabbed a large water and a sausage with onions and peppers from a street vendor and we headed to the playground at the Frog Pond in the common.
We had a delightful time. Little G kept running off and doing Lord only knows what and then he would touch base about every five minutes and eat another bite of his lunch. The ladybug actually fell asleep in the stroller. I was able to eat my sausage and drink my water and sit in the sun and ruminate on how I was not defeated.*
I figured eventually the promise of another train ride would win out over staying longer at the playground and Little G would happily head home with me and we'd catch the 50 bus (the one that runs the closest to our house) and then we'd all go inside in time for some dual kiddo naptime. And that basically happened, which was awesome, except that since Little G is no longer strapped into a stroller, I can not physically MAKE him go in the house, so while I was getting the Ladybug situated, he ran off into our back yard and started playing in my garden which, as mentioned at the beginning of this story, just happens to be a big pile of boy-enticing dirt. Because in his little 2.8 year old mind, we talked about going outside 6 hours earlier and NOW he was going to get his chance!!
Finally, Little G determined he needed to go potty, which I swear to this moment is the only reason I got him inside, and we came inside and I took the picture above just before plopping him into the bath. He was asleep by 3:30, so only an hour after my initial estimate.
Too soon, I had to wake him up so we could start our LAST adventure of the day!
*my newest prayer of thanksgiving - though I only just learned the specific words later that evening at a book reading and signing event I attended of my most favorite author ever, Anne Lamott.