You know how sometimes you make a bad decision and then in an attempt to fix it you make another bad decision and then it seems to spiral into a big, flaming mess?
Well, that’s never happened to me.
I kid. I invented this concept.
A couple of weeks ago I took the kids to the mall. They love going to the mall. Their favorite activities include 1) going to Barnes & Noble and playing with the train set, 2) going to the Disney store and playing with everything, and 3) riding the escalator.
About that last one . . .
When I go to the mall, I typically bring the stroller. Dec can be a very slow walker. In a quest to get somewhere, oh, within an hour, it sometimes helps to stick him in the stroller, preferably with a snack.
On this particular trip to the mall, I had purchased a big, heavy book at Barnes & Noble and several gifts for the 37 children’s birthday parties we had coming up. I had hooked the bags onto the handle of the stroller alongside my purse. The stroller was a bit awkward to push, particularly when empty, as the weight of the bag and purse kept tipping it backwards.
On the way back to the car, we got to ride the escalator. Normally this is great fun—the kids eagerly jump on and are able to safety and independently ride it to the bottom.
Well, on this particular day I am pushing the awkward stroller and Sydney is standing immediately to my left. Dylan is so close behind me that I can feel him brushing against the back of my legs. As we step onto the escalator, Sydney is still right next to me. I tip the stroller back a bit in order to balance it. As I settle onto the escalator, I realize that I do not feel Dec behind me. I twist around and see that he did not get on. He’s standing, frozen, at the top of the escalator. I call to him to encourage him to get on, and he shakes his head, backs away, and turns to run in the opposite direction. Now I’m going down the escalator, tightly packed in by the stroller in front of me and Sydney next to me, and Dec has disappeared. Fan-tastic.
I can’t let go of the stroller to race back up and get Dec. What the stroller falls and pulls Sydney down with it? What if the stroller topples down far enough to hit the people in front of us? But where is Dec? I say to Sydney, “Move! Dec is still up there! Let’s go down and get on the other one and go get Dec!” (fortunately, the two escalators were right next to each other). She immediately understands what I’m saying and starts to scurry down the escalator. Once she moves, I lift up the stroller and propel myself to the bottom. Sydney reaches the bottom about one step ahead of me and turns toward the up escalator. I turn to check to see if Dec has reappeared and see him holding the hand of an elderly Grandpa-looking man. The man is escorting him down the escalator and Dec is wearing a big grin. I turn to tell Sydney to stop, but she has stepped onto the escalator already. Now I have one child coming down the escalator (while holding the hand of a complete stranger, who could be a pedophile for all I know) and another child going up the escalator, unaccompanied by a trusted adult (me, duh).
Sydney panics. She sees that Dec is coming down with the man and despite the fact that she is already about 1/3 of the way up, she turns around and begins trying to come back down. Her little legs are moving feverishly, but she isn’t making progress. She quickly sees that it’s futile and bursts into tears, forlornly calling, “Mooooommmmmyyy!” as she reaches for me (it was like a scene from a movie during which a child is carried off by a social worker as a mother is carted off to jail after trying to steal food for her starving child). I call, “I’m coming!”. I glance back at Dec, who is still cheerfully riding the escalator down with the pedophile sweet old man. I make a snap decision. I abandon the stroller and my purse, catapult up the escalator, and tuck Sydney under my right arm, causing her to tilt sharply forward. She clutches my shirt with both hands, causing my tank top to dip and reveal a large section of my bra. I start to fight against the tide of the moving escalator. By making a less-than-graceful leap, I am able to reach the bottom, smacking Sydney’s dangling head onto the side of the escalator. Her cries increase in intensity. I should probably note that once Dylan sees me hurdle myself after Sydney, he erupts into tears, convinced that he is going to have to go home with the pedophile sweet old man.
I reach the bottom, set Sydney on her feet, and topple backward as Dec throws himself at me. Now we resemble a litter of puppies, as both children are tangled up, grasping at me and wiping their slimy noses on my shirt. Both are inconsolable. I nod in thanks to the pedophile sweet old man as he eyes my exposed bra.
And what do I do instead comforting my sobbing children? I laugh. Yep. I try to hide it by burying my face in their hair, but my body is convulsing and little giggles escape.
This increases the their indignation. They are now caterwauling in a manner similar to a bunny as it’s being dragged off by a cat. I snort as I realize that my tank top is still clutched in Sydney’s sweaty hand, offering onlookers a lengthy opportunity to see my bra.
Did I mention that I have an audience? Since I successfully managed to temporarily block both the up escalator and the down escalator, a small crowd of people has witnessed me lose not one, but two children within the span of one minute. And then they watch me as I cackle about it. I can feel disapproval radiate from the crowd. I hope no one has the Department of Social Services on speed dial (as I do).
No, no, it’s true. My picture is hanging up right next to the one of Britney as she drives around LA with her toddler boys riding without the protection of carseats. At least her bra is hanging out too.