(As I write this there is half an inch of snow on the ground, so that title might be misleading, but snow on the ground on November 3 in Seattle is unprecedented, at least in my 21 years of living here, so it must be noted.)
It’s been six months since I’ve touched this blog, and that’s due largely to the little seven month old who lights up our days. He couldn’t be easier, as babies go, but because he’s twenty-five percent of a quad, I’ve struggled to want to do anything productive in my free time (free time being defined as time not spent on cleaning or chores or anything household- or child-related).
So here we are!
Long-time readers, (and I do mean long time), might remember this number on other offspring:
Any excuse to bring these cherubs back to the page:
I love that Henry and Arden are pumpkins at just three months, swimming in the six-month-size onesies, and Jameson at seven months is bursting through the buttons.
We’ve had several big firsts around here, the first one leading to the others: Henry and Arden have started preschool for the first time, at age four. They love those three mornings a week enormously, and it makes us all feel like we’re on an adventure with them. Like their first field trip, which we embarked on together.
Side note: Mike having a job that allows him this kind of freedom is priceless, and I do not take it for granted…until I do, as we shall see.
This field trip was by-the-book, as field trips go, largely peaceful and full of farmland, pumpkins, tractor rides, and lessons on nitrogen.
We cruised through it all, happy-go-lucky, until 10:45AM approached and Mike decided, along with another dad friend of ours, that he should head to the office. I totally understood and we all kissed him goodbye as the teacher said something about a slide in a barn being our next activity.
I herded the kids into the barn and looked up at an enormous, incredibly steep slide cascading down a mountain of hay. Fun! was my first thought. Arden and Henry took off toward the ladder that led to the top, toting sack cloths to slide on. I had Jameson in the stroller and Hunter by my side as we watched them climb.
And then I noticed that they, along with all the other preschoolers, were struggling to mount each step of the ladder, for two reasons. First, because it was constructed of hay, and second, because each step was nearly as tall as they were.
I looked at Hunter and the baby, weighing my options. A handful of other parents were already resigned to making the climb to hoist their progeny to the top. A young farm-hand was holding a bale of hay over his head, readying it to make the steps shorter and easier to climb…until the bale combusted in his arms and sprayed in all directions, and he stood there, not knowing how to proceed.
Meanwhile, a dad had taken pity on Arden and helped her up a step, while Henry turned to holler down at me to help him up.
I bent to Hunter, telling him to stay with the baby, then realized that was a fool’s request and grabbed him to hustle up the hay mountain. I lifted Henry and Hunter up each enormous step, glancing down at Jameson to see him starting to fuss. I suppressed a mild feeling of panic and reminded myself I was surrounded only by preschoolers and their parents, all of whom would surely be understanding.
I lifted them both up another step, laughing as I realized I was barely tall enough to scale them myself — how were four year olds expected to climb?
At the top, Arden wasted no time flying down the slide, but the boys wanted me to ride with them. I hurried them onto my lap as I saw Jameson crying with a mom leaning over his stroller to comfort him; I dug deep into my four years of mothering to chant “not a big deal, not a big deal” when every part of me wanted to yell “WHY AM I HERE ALONE?”
It was surprisingly steep and we flew to the bottom, only to see them jump up and expect to do it countless more times. I ran over to Jameson to console him and caught the eye of my friend Anne, also-deserted wife, who said, “Where are they NOW, when it’s INSANE?” which made me feel a hundred times better.
Fast-forward a few slide rides and they all raced over to what can only be called the corn pit — a foot-deep and twenty-foot-long hole filled with hard kernels of corn for playing, like a sandbox. They tore off their shoes and were lost in the melee in seconds, just as I realized it was time for the baby to eat.
Yep, I nodded to myself, this is happening. I am going to breastfeed in a barn.
I snuck over to a bale of hay somewhat tucked behind a piece of farm machinery and metaphorically squashed my modesty like a fresh cow pie.
No one could see anything, because this isn’t my first rodeo, but that was cold comfort when an entire class of first graders marched past me from the other end of the barn. I could practically see the thought bubbles above their heads comparing me to an actual cow giving milk.
I had a pleasant conversation with a fellow preschool mom friend, temporarily losing track of my three corn pit excavators. I called jacket and hat colors to her from her privileged standing vantage point and we vaguely located each of them.
I finished nursing, spotted Anne and said, “Where are they, INDEED,” and then made the astute choice to ring the dinner bell on this situation. I rounded up my sheep and marched out of there, shivering less from the crisp fall air than from the relief of this country carnival coming to an end.
I love when my children’s expressions mirror my interior emotions.
I also love being an expert blogger, getting all children in the frame and a gorgeous red barn standing proudly in the background. You’re welcome.
I am told there are more preschool field trips ahead. Is this true, fellow mama bears? Where shall I find myself breastfeeding next? An old-growth forest? A wind-whipped coast? Beside glazed-eyed gorillas in the zoo?
Preschool is more intense than I anticipated.
P.S. Speaking of fall, Hunter was Gaston for Halloween, and it was five-dozen-eggs, large-as-a-barge fantastic.