11 December 2007

Ho Ho Humbug

Busy Husband continues to be busy, so today I thought I’d take Sonny Ma-Jiminy and Chubbity Bubbity to a lovely Christmas event at a local church by myself. Last year there was live music, a sausage sizzle, and much to Sonny Ma-Jiminy’s delight, free bouncy castles! And last year it was a wonderful relaxing time. This is probably because last year our family consisted of twice the adults and half the children than it does today: last year, Daddy wasn't terribly busy and Chubbity Bubbity wasn't born. Still, I thought, I'll manage by myself: how hard can it be?

Before we left I thought it would be wise to take some money in case we wanted to buy a drink but I couldn’t find any nice $5 or $10 notes. Even gold coins were in short supply. So I raided the money box and loaded up my pockets with a few dollars worth of twenty cent coins. Bulky, but better than nothing.

By the end of the hike from our parking spot to the action, my hands were full of programs and fliers which I had to stuff into my pockets. I didn't have a handbag because I had decided that two children and a pocket full of small change was quite enough to carry.

Once we found some seats, a young man bent down and gave Sonny Ma-Jiminy a lovely green balloon. How nice. Sonny Ma-Jiminy was so stunned that he let it go and it promptly flew over the heads of the people and far far away. Great.

I was reassuring Sonny Ma-Jiminy that the balloon was flying "over there to make some other kids happy" when the young man offered to give Sonny Ma-Jiminy another balloon. I tried to politely decline because I feared it would either go the same way as the first one or I’d have to hold it all night to make sure that it didn't. Unfortunately the young man had already completed his transaction with Sonny Ma-Jiminy before I could make my point, so we were now the owners of a new pink balloon. Excellent.

Contemporary Dance displays by young girls who appeared to be dressed for the beach were not quite Sonny Ma-Jiminy’s cup of tea so we went over to the bouncy castles. It seemed like the easy option: I pictured him happily jumping while I stood by watching (holding Chubbity Bubbity, one pocket full of small change, another pocket stuffed full of papers and wrestling a pink balloon desperate for escape.) Easy.

We stood in a line for the Yellow Bouncy Castle for a while. My entire body was exhausted and aching, and Sonny Ma-Jiminy was getting impatient. Then I noticed that the line for the Blue Bouncy Castle seemed to be shorter and moving quicker so when Sonny Ma-Jiminy decided that he wanted to swap lines, I agreed. Anything to get him on a bouncy castle sooner.

Of course, as soon as we swapped lines and started waiting for a turn on the Blue Bouncy Castle, the children on the Yellow Bouncy Castle came off and the waiting children in the other line eagerly clambered on. Don't worry, I told Sonny Ma-Jiminy (okay, I really told that to myself,) it will be your turn soon. Children in front of us began taking their shoes off and so we decided to do the same. After all, it would be disappointing to miss out on our turn just because we couldn't wrestle his shoes off quickly enough.

Once Sonny Ma-Jiminy's shoes were off, I realised that the grass was full of what we call Biting Ants. I couldn't get his shoes back on only to have to take them off again later so I decided to carry him in my right arm while I carried Chubbity Bubbity in my left. I nearly dropped Chubbity Bubbity on the ground as I manoeuvred a second child into position on my body. I tied the pink balloon onto my wrist and hoped my pants didn't move gradually southwards with the weight of the objects in my pockets.

But the line to the Blue Bouncy Castle moved much slower than I had anticipated. I was hot, sweaty, exhausted, aching, emotional and beginning to be bitten on the legs by mosquitoes and Biting Ants (which were very hard to remove without the use of my hands). I waited in this position far beyond my Level of Reasonable Endurance. Surely, every aching exhausting minute of this wait was bringing us a minute closer to the joyful, blissful moment when Sonny Ma-Jiminy would be free to run and jump on the Blue Bouncy Castle ... the same wonderful moment when I could put him down, becoming 15 kg lighter. Then I would only be carrying 7kg of Chubbity Bubbity. And a pink balloon and two pockets full of things I wish I hadn't got.

Finally, the children on the Blue Bouncy Castle were given some sort of signal, lept off the castle and surged towards their parents. The children in front of us in the line flew towards the castle and clambered up, screaming with delight. Then to my despair, the operator put out his hand in front of a little girl just before us and said, "No more. Just wait there please."

A look of horror that I couldn't control passed over my face. There was no way I could place a Filter Of Politeness over the wave of frustration, exhaustion and physical pain that washed over me. And I sat down on the grass and cried.

I just wept and wept. I didn't care if people saw me, judged me or despised me. The only thing I didn't want was for them to talk to me. I felt a hand gently patting me on the shoulder and hesitantly looked up, dreading having to explain to a stranger why I thought it was perfectly reasonable to have a very public meltdown in the lineup for a Bouncy Castle.

It was my little boy patting my shoulder, my dear Sonny Ma-Jiminy, who had waited very patiently during the long delay and subsequent disappointment. (Of course he wasn't carrying half his body weight in surplus humans, a flighty pink balloon and two pockets full of unwanted objects.) He gently curled up on my lap, lifted his feet into the air away from the snapping jaws of the Biting Ants, and put his head on my shoulder while I dried my tears on his shirt.

The wait continued. Coins threatened to spill out of my pockets, and I still sat. I wasn't going to stand up and bring myself to eye level with the parents who had just seen me disgrace myself.

This wait, for some reason, seemed shorter. Before you could say, "Release the hounds," Sonny Ma-Jiminy and about eight other children were dashing madly towards the Blue Bouncy Castle.

Triumphant! I watched for a few minutes then I trudged up the hill towards a shade tent with some tiny children's chairs. Before I collapsed into one, I picked it up to move it to a better place from which to observe Sonny Ma-Jiminy emerge from the Blue Bouncy Castle. As I swung it around, I smashed it straight into a small child walking towards his parents who were sitting under the tent.

The small child was startled but unhurt and the parents appeared not to have observed the incident but I thought it wise to spend some time reassuring the little one that I had no intention of causing harm. When I turned back, I was surprised to see that the children were already jumping down from the Blue Bouncy Castle and scattering in every direction. Was Sonny Ma-Jiminy there? I couldn't see him for a while and when I did finally catch sight of him he was quite a long way away, running fast in the wrong direction.

I grabbed his shoes and raced with them, Chubbity Bubbity, bulging pockets and a desperate pink balloon towards his retreating figure. A lady from our home church (who Sonny Ma-Jiminy doesn't know) recognised him as he ran and she rushed towards him, trying to corral and catch him. This frightened him even more. When I caught up with him, he was crying and shouting at her.

As quickly as I could, I removed all of us from the situation and bought a drink to calm us down. I was very thirsty but it was Sonny Ma-Jiminy who drank most of it. We sat and listened to some of the entertainment for a while but Chubbity Bubbity was very tired and the PA system was too loud for her. She cried so much that I decided to take all three of us home much to Sonny Ma-Jiminy's disappointment.

We hiked back to the car. Chubbity Bubbity was crying because we'd left it too late to leave and Sonny Ma-Jiminy was moaning "I don't want to go to Home" because we were leaving too early. And once we were finally at home the ribbon on the bothersome pink balloon seemed to always be tangling around my feet, tripping me up at the most inconvenient times.

Sigh. At least there hadn't been blood or flames.


Crazy Sister said...

That's truly awful. You need a wife - someone to hold one kid, carry a huge bag full of EVERYTHING you need and be prepared to leave with the grumpy one while you stay with the excited one.

Givinya De Elba said...

So true, CrazySis, so true!!! Wives can be amazing can't they? Sorry to hear that things are crazy at your place. You're doing an awesome job at wifing. Keep it up! :)