The other day, I strapped on my big Momma balls and took my three girls to the Children’s Museum. This was the first time that I have taken the girls by myself AND with no stroller. My main motivation for doing this asinine thing was for the twins. Ever since we began going to this particular museum (around the time they turned one) they have been stroller bound. I, or we, if my husband wasn’t working, would unstrap them in different sections so that they could play, but then we would strap them back in to move them somewhere else. They didn’t get to explore the way that their older sister could. And now, at eighteen months old, they’re running, shrieking and loving all their new freedom. And I wanted them to be able to experience the museum fully.
What I came to realize was that I had another obstacle besides a serious lack of control over three toddlers. My oldest was just toilet trained. She is still at the phase where she sometimes needs to be reminded when it’s time to go to the bathroom. She’s also still too small to do it by herself. So what do you do with a 2 1/2 year old who has to pee, two 18-month olds and only one adult? Bring them all in to the bathroom and pray the little ones don’t touch anything. This wasn’t a very successful operation…
Anyone with a toddler knows how you can turn your back for a second and your kid can just take off. Add two extra toddlers and it’s chaos all the time. Evelyn was never a runner. She learned to walk when her sisters were a couple months old and always held my hand or the stroller. She never darted across the parking lot or ran away from me in the store. Got distracted by toys and stopped, yes, but never took off. The twins are a different story. I need them to learn to not run away from me and to stop when they hear me call their name. The museum is a relatively small space with a lot of families. No one would be dumb enough to let an unaccompanied toddler run outside. And it’s a place where I feel comfortable taking a couple steps out of the eyesight of two to grab the third. So for me, it was a perfect place to try.
So did it work? Eh.
One of the twins is a definite momma’ girl. She tends to stay close by, especially when other people are around. But the other? She’s a runner, and a devious one. She stops when I call her name, and grins at me, but then usually just keeps going. She is fiercely independent. If she doesn’t want to be held or picked up, well, hell will rain down on you if you try. And someone will probably call Child Protective Services because of the noise coming out of her face hole. Oh it’s bad. But you know what? She LOVED it. She loved the freedom. She loved that I let her walk away from me (but where I could still see her). And if she went to far, well I just scooped her up and ran her back. She wasn’t thrilled, but she got over it.
It was hard. I can’t lie about that. It was also exhausting. Pushing a stroller you can zone out a bit. With three toddlers going in three different directions you’ve got no time to even have a complete thought. It’s going to be an uphill battle. The twins are still young. They’re still learning. And they’re going to test boundaries. I’m really glad that I did it, and that I did it as soon as the museum opened at 9am when the crowds were thinner.
I’m still debating on a backpack leash for my runner. I’m hoping that I can garner the courage to try a few more places sans stroller just to see how she does. Maybe I just need a little pouch of cookies for every time she listens and comes back to me.
It’s been a couple weeks since we took this trip and my momma balls are still hiding in the back of the closet. I think it’s about time to dust them off and try again.