Oh mah lawwwd, moms.
The children’s museum on a busy AF day is my Everest.
As in, when I arrive and find this scenario, you can find me in some corner near the entrance, jumping up and down, shaking out my arms, pep-talking myself like a boxer about to head into what is sure to be a bloody fight.
I’m talking the day you discover every summer camp in the state has ventured on in ahead of you, there is clearly a MOPS convention that stopped by, and for good measure, it’s probably also “Bring Your Kid to Work Day” for all the employees.
Can’t handle it.
Some brilliant woman needs to come up with an app that tracks museum and zoo entrance numbers for us moms to check before we leave the house. Cause this shit is for the birds, friends.
But I ain’t no quitter.
So after my float like a butterfly, sting like a bee ritual, I kindly take a few deep breaths and head to the entrance with my squad. As I hand the worker my pass and ID, she looks deep into my eyes and scans the pass blindly, then holds the ID next to my face, yet never looks at my actual face.
This woman gets it.
As she hands the two cards back, I know she senses my fear. And for a moment, time stops and she places her hand softly on my forearm. Sounds muffle in the background, and running children seem to move in slo-mo. She mouths, “You got this,” and we fist bump and blow it up, all still in dramatic slow motion.
And as I bid her farewell and enter into the depths of hell, the thoughts begin. A series of thoughts that for the next hour and a half, will simply run through my head in random order, as I duck and weave through crowds like a Navy Seal. So come on in, folks, and welcome to my mental state on a busy AF children’s museum day.
Thought 1: Survival. Protect thyself and thy offspring.
Elbows, objects, strollers, backpacks, even corners of tables. They’re all coming my way, or I’m being forced into them.
Constant defense mode, Jason Bourne style.
Fight or flight, you ask?! I just payed a hundred bucks for this renewed membership, little Johnny. You ram into me with that shopping cart one more time and this clutch gets tossed, and we’re gonna dance kid.
Thought 2: Taken. My children will be taken.
I immediately assume the role of Liam Neeson and begin scanning for paperback books I can roll up to use as weapons.
Son: gray shirt, blue track shorts, and blue Crocs. Daughter: orange tank top, floral skirt, pink light-up flip-flops, and pigtails.
The time is 11:18 a.m. Four visible exits. Three uniformed workers in current sight. Possible creeper on bench near the water fountain. His attire and physical features are immediately engrained in my memory.
When we change locations, I start again. Scanning, always scanning.
Every possible Facebook and Criminal Minds horror story is likely going to happen.
Hell. We may all dry drown in here at once.
Thought 3: Sound. So much sound.
Shrieks, dings, whistles, reprimands, laughter, a bobcat’s roar, running water.
I consider throwing my 4-year-old on my tit just so I can duck into the quiet breastfeeding suite for a moment and scream into a pillow.
Thought 4: Filth, everywhere. Seen and unseen.
No, baby girl, that is not a play napkin for use in the diner. That is a used baby wipe.
Oh, yes, sweet boy, please go right ahead and use the soggy floor Cheerios as dog food in the vet’s office. It’s like ingenuity meets hand foot mouth. Aces.
And if you can’t see it, expect to feel it. Wetness, stickiness, and greasiness abound.
I tell myself it’s all carryover from the art area so I can sleep tonight. But when my son brings me a frog puppet with a Band-Aid and a hairball hanging off of it that looks like it was pulled from a mangy golden retriever, I can feel the vomit building up in my throat.
My inner dialogue as I dry heave behind the puppet theater is “Bleach. Baths of bleach as soon as we get home. We’ll all die, but at least we’ll be clean.”
Thought 5: The sweet release that is the toddler area.
A quick chest tap, kiss of the fingers, and a peace sign are thrown to the big guy in the sky when I spot it.
For I have a child under 4, which means we are granted entrance into the somewhat quieter, less crowded, and less Bourbon Street-esque area knows as the toddler corral.
As I take a deep breath in once we enter, the faint aroma of a dirty diaper doesn’t even faze me. It’s a far more welcomed scent than the stank that those tween summer camp kids are spreading out beyond the swinging gate. And when my 6-year-old fist bumps the staff member who opened said gate and throws a sassy peace sign to the poor saps left on the outside, I know she’ll be fine with the Little People toys and a caterpillar tunnel for at least 20 minutes.
Soak it up big girl, and thank your brother. We’re safe for now.
Thought 6: I will allow my children to be savage today.
Huddle up, my kiddos, and listen carefully.
Today, we don’t share. You see something you want without a human appendage touching it, you take it, and you don’t let it go. And I mean immediately, and without hesitation. Dive over countertops if you must, and creep behind corners waiting for dropped items.
It’s every man for himself on days like this, and this will be a simple lesson in supply and demand.
Before we break, look at me in the eyes, dear son, and repeat after me: “All the trains are mine today, and not yours.”
Got it? Good. Win on three. “1, 2, 3, WIN!”
This behavior should be fun to unteach tomorrow.
(On second thought, let’s head to Walmart and Gap Outlet while y’all are all jacked up and make use of this barbaric behavior.)
And lastly, Thought 7: The water area will undoubtedly be the final straw for me, so it’s being saved for last, little ones.
Deep breaths commence as we trudge over sopping wet smocks strewn about the puddled floor.
Yep, grab one of those babe. Should keep you nice and dry.
Oh, there’s nothing in the “Make Your Own Boat” boxes?
Grab that formula can floating by and stick this here baby doll arm out of the top.
Yep, most definitely play by the beastly toddler who is dumping pails full of water on your shoes repeatedly. And when you can’t find a stool to get to the high-level features, feel free to knock him over and stand on his back. Something tells me he won’t flinch.
I’ll be sitting over here, thinking of what drive-thru we can hit on the way home that wouldn’t bat an eye at two naked children strapped into car seats in the back. Cause I sure as shit ain’t even warming up some pizza rolls after this mid-morning debacle.
Oh, wait?! You’re heading my way and saying you’ve had it with this place too?!
God bless you, my disgruntled minions. Chuck your smocks, and fall in line. We’re out like sauerkraut, and I’m declaring “Never again” to that kind-hearted entrance employee as we peace out of this ticking time bomb.
Tomorrow, we stare at each other in the silence and peace of our home, and you can even do a craft with glitter.
Next week, we’ll pick a day for the zoo. It’s supposed to be overcast all week, so I bet it will be dead.
And if not, well, I’m long overdue for some form of therapy anyway.