I had the girls for a few hours, SOLO, over the weekend. I decided, hey, let’s do something fun! It should be mentioned that this thought process never produces positive results, but I was convinced that this time it would. I am a sucker.
It was the first day since April that it wasn’t 100-something degrees, so I thought we should take advantage. (I remember being a kid in New Jersey when it would hit like 50 degrees on a random late winter day, and I’d excitedly venture outside wearing shorts and a T-shirt. It’s the same thing here, just the complete opposite—it’s 99 degrees and slightly overcast, so I put on a hooded sweatshirt and search the neighborhood for signs of life amid the scorched earth.) I grabbed the Razor scooter our youngest had received for her birthday and the bike that was ALSO hers but that I would let our oldest ride. They spotted me putting air in the bike’s tires and darn near lost their minds at the realization we’d be riding around the neighborhood. Now, it’s supremely difficult to fill up the tires on this bike with the pump I have because I cannot get an angle in between the spokes and training wheels to lock it into place. The girls’ strategy while I’m trying to do this is to stand there and stare and ask me when we’re leaving and to start arguing about who will be riding the bike and also when are we leaving? This was the beginning of the end, and I should have foreseen as much and called everything off.
But I didn’t. Here is the list of major arguments that ensued during what ultimately became a six-minute ride around the block.
· I don’t want that helmet; I want the Anna and Elsa helmet.
· This helmet is too tight.
· Why can’t I put Mac’s leash on my handlebars?
· I can’t ride this!
· This is too hard!
· Let’s trade.
· You’ve been riding the bike for a whole year and now it’s my turn!
· I'm hungry.
· Dad, look—the bike makes these cool black tire marks on the driveway.
· Because I didn’t HEAR you when you said to stop!
· I can’t ride this!
· Owww my knees are burning!
· I’m trying to just walk next to it but it keeps hitting me.
· This is a baby helmet and I'M NOT A BABY.
· Why can’t we go swimming?
When we finally, mercifully arrived back at the house, I promised them that I would never take them outside again, ever, for anything. Everyone was crying—me, on the inside—including the dog, whose leash was tangled up in the spokes of the bike I had knocked over in frustration.
Somehow, without me demanding they do, the girls retreated to their play area and became … quiet. Eerily quiet … the kind of quiet that, when I realize it’s happening, I panic. This time I did not panic, however, because I did not care about anything anymore and I was working on regaining my sanity.
Eventually, while I was sitting in the living room, our oldest emerged, walked toward me and handed me a note. The note read:
“Daddy I am sow sore xoxoxo”
She asked me to turn it over and on the other side was a drawing of her and her sister happily riding a bike and scooter, in some alternate universe no doubt, and it read, “I love you.”
Dammit, she got me. I hugged her and thanked her. She retreated back to the play area and returned a few minutes later with a note that read:
“Do you for
Yes, I assured her, and she went back to write another note, this time on an absurdly large piece of paper, and it read:
eom sow hppy
you for geiv me”
I thanked her again, hugged her again.
The notes continued—“I like to do sduf with you”—and I couldn’t seem to find a way to gently request that she cool with it with the notes.
Our youngest, seeing the positive results her sister’s remorse notes were achieving, wanted a piece of the action. From her I received a note, on an absurdly tiny strip of paper, that had her name, a heart that was crossed out and in its place, somehow, the Star of David.