Hubby and the boys and I just spent a week in Colorado with my brother, sister-in-law, and their two kids (the same ages as our two). Two four-year olds and two two-year olds. It was mayhem. Good mayhem, but mayhem. There was not one moment of silence from morning to bedtime for six days. Not a single one. There was always talking, yelling, playing, screaming, laughing, fighting, and most likely, a mixture of (pick any two) going on at any given time. Even the car rides were filled with big-boy chatter from the very back seat where the four-year olds sat and non-stop questions from my two-year old.
My brother’s two-year old sat quietly, looking at my two-year old chat and ask questions for however long the ride was (five minutes or two hours). Did I mention that his two-year old is a girl? Enough said.
So the other three kiddos, “the boys,” as we call them, became a small pack of running, overly-excited, enthusiastic, imaginative kids who played games of “ALIEN!!!” all over the house, the entire trip. It was very cute, but I thought if I heard the word “alien” one more time I might turn into one.
One of the days we were there, we spent ALL morning trying to figure out what we were going to do that day. We had talked about driving two hours north to visit a working bison ranch in Cheyenne, Wyoming, complete with a train ride through the grounds. The kids would love it. I called and they were open. It was time to get ready.
Well, my hubby needed to do a few hours of work sometime while we were in Colorado. He needed to do them that day.
“What?! No!” I protested. “Do it tomorrow!”
After enough pushing (because how often does the opportunity rise to visit a bison ranch in Wyoming??), he decided he would go. Then my brother said he had work to do, too. My dad, who owns the company where my brother works, said he needed to work on something with my brother. So now all four men have to work. Did my sister-in-law, my mom, and I want to drive to Wyoming, by ourselves, through lots of country and open space, with four little children to visit some bison? No.
So we got back on our ipads and Googled “things for kids to do in Ft. Collins Co.” There was Cool Beans, an indoor play structure place, but we had already been there twice. Then we found a bounce house place with open play hours. We’d take them there.
By now, my sis-in-law, who had already showered and was ready to go, had decided to take ornaments off the Christmas tree. I know how that is. It was more than a week after Christmas, and the clutter of the tree, the rearrangement of the furniture, was getting to her. So, sometime while researching things to do that day, she said, “Sorry, I just at least want to get the ornaments down.” That’s okay, I told her, and she got to work.
Meanwhile, my kids weren’t dressed, and neither were hers. I helped get her four-year old son, C, dressed, then went downstairs to get her daughter, A, (who was jumping on an enclosed trampoline down in the basement where we were staying). When I got to the bottom of the stairs, which were covered with toys from the boys launching domino grenades off the top of the stairs and rolling anything you can think of down them as well, A stopped jumping and looked sheepishly at me with big, pretty hazel eyes.
“Did you poop?” I asked her.
I asked again.
She stared again.
I got closer.
“Yep, you pooped,” I said. “Let’s take you upstairs.”
Now, diaper was changed, C was dressed, my oldest son, A, was working on getting dressed, and E, my two-year old, was running around the house naked. Naked makes him feel frisky, so he was doing somersaults, jumping up and down, up and down, and making loud noises (super cute stuff, but my head was starting to feel like it might explode from the stress). My mom was helping in any way she could, but she was also trying to stay out of the way so she didn’t get the kiddos all wound up.
And there I was, running around, letting my anxiety get the best of me, trying to tackle the task of getting four kids out the door before I lost my mind.
With every whine, every “Mommy/Auntie Shell, can you get me a snack?,” every “my bottom hurts!”, “I need a drink!”, “where’s my tigey (stuffed tiger)?,” “where are my shoes?,” “I have to go poop,” my hair follicles were most likely trying to loosen themselves up a bit in anticipation of me pulling them all out.
Oh, and there were two dogs. My brother’s yellow lab, Aspen, and our dog, Cooper, who had finally figured out how to play together (there’s a 6 year difference in age, so my dog was getting a little grumpy with all the puppy-play). Aspen, a wonderful dog and mild for a lab, wanted to play every second of the day, and when Cooper would get fed up, he’d let him know with barking that just crawled through my skin on this morning of chaos. Aspen would start barking, too. So we’d separate them with a gate that they could see each other through (bad idea), and Aspen would whimper while Cooper would bark obnoxiously.
To make the situation even more interesting, they live at an altitude of 5,000 feet, leaving people who live at sea level with very little oxygen! I was sweating, out of breath, tripping on toys, shouting commands, trying to get at least one or two kids into the car, and I finally snapped.
I stormed into my brother’s at-home office (where he, my dad, and my hubby were all working), and vented – loudly.
“I just came in to say bye!” I shouted, totally winded. “I just have to get out of the house. My anxiety level is up to here (hand lifted far above head), and we are leaving!”
I went on for another 15 seconds or so, until my brother finally gave me a look that said, “SHUT UP!!”
“What?” I asked, annoyed.
In my frazzled state of mind, there was nothing he could say to justify interrupting my rant.
“We’re on a conference call,” he whispered, pointing to the phone.
Lesson learned – always make sure you don’t have a bigger audience than you’re aware of when you decide to freak out.