I pay attention to all of the normal families. I see them everywhere.
They are all neatly dressed and groomed. Their demeanor, pleasant.
Everyone is smiling and laughing.
All of the kids seem to be doing exactly what is expected of children: being respectful, using manners and getting along with siblings.
I say bravo, normal families. Great job raising such well-adjusted kids. You are the sunshine of society.
But none of those families are my family.
Because evidently whatever they are doing right, we are doing the opposite.
This past weekend was gorgeous. Why not take the kids for a nice walk around the neighborhood? See what we could see.
We had a great plan. Let the kids ride their bikes and let the baby ride in a wagon, pulled by Dad.
You see, we learned that last one the hard way. Even though the youngest is five years old, he has a tendency to decide that he is finished walking, or riding his bike way before the trip is over.
When he decides that he is finished walking, he is really finished walking. As in, he sits down on the sidewalk in protest. Will not budge.
Dad always winds up carrying him and his bike, most of the way back home.
Well, not this time. He was getting a free ride. Anything to get him to willingly participate.
Two children opted for bikes. One chose to walk.
We loaded the wagon with water for everyone. It was a beautiful, warm day.
We reached the sidewalk. Dad pulling the wagon, two kids riding in the street and one walking beside me. He even asked to hold my hand as we walked.
The street had very little traffic and the walk started out downright relaxing.
I think I even skipped a few times. And whistled.
We decided to check out the site where the neighborhood pool was under construction. That sounded safe enough.
The pool was being built at the top of a hill, just up the street from our house.
We were only about a half a block from the home when I noticed that the baby was riding in a lake of water. Evidently after taking a drink from his sport top bottle, he had forgotten to secure the lid.
And now the bottom of the wagon was a lake.
Dad asked him to climb out, then turned the wagon over and dumped the water.
Upon realizing that he had no water left in his bottle, he began to exclaim that he was so thirsty he would surly die if he didn’t get more water. This instant.
I took my bottle from the wagon and handed it to him. Because I would rather pass out from dehydration that to listen to him whine for one more second.
He was satisfied.
We trudge forward, up the hill. After a few minutes, we arrived at the swimming pool. My warning to my son to not enter the actual construction site and touch things, had fallen on deaf ears.
In a matter of seconds he was holding a huge piece of splintery wood and a brick. In other words, weapons.
I demanded that he unhand the materials. He rolled his eyes and threw them down. Barely missing his brother, who was whizzing by on his bike.
We discussed whether the pool would be finished in time for the summer season kickoff. Then we decided to head back down the hill.
This was the exact moment that my daughter bike brakes became stuck in the locked position. As in, she could no longer pedal. or change gears. Or move.
Dad was forced to drop the wagon handle and investigate.
He took the 20 inch bicycle from her and sat on the seat. He attempted to force the bike into submission.
After five LONG minutes he said the bike had to be returned to the house for now. It would require more attention that he could give, while on a leisurely family walk.
He asked my daughter to push the bike home. And she did. For about a fourth of a block. And then the complaining became unbearable.
Cut to Dad pushing the bike and me pulling the baby in the wagon. And my daughter playing with her ponytail as she walked along.
After leaving the bike at home we decided to walk to a nearby park. The kids were ecstatic.
For that my little duckies formed a line. Even the baby decided that he could make the trip on foot.
We walked along, waving to passersby. Dad and the middle son were practicing basketball passes back and forth, as we went.
For just a moment I thought we had pulled it off. I thought WE were finally one of THOSE families. People had to be staring at us in envy.
We were amazing.
We arrived at the park in record time. Everyone was ready to play.
And then my oldest son spotted the creek that ran through the front of the park. I thought, sure we can go look at the creek. Who doesn’t love a creek?
I thought we would all look at the cool water flowing, then be off to the playground equipment.
Except it was not meant to be.
Upon trying to get a better view, my oldest son tripped over a tree root and before I could blink my eyes, was in water up to his neck.
Yes, I said neck.
Before I could form a sentence the other three saw this as an invitation. Socks and shoes were flying.
I understood. I played in creeks as a child. Except now I was smarter.
I started having a panic attack.
All I could think about was snakes, sharp pieces of glass and catfish as big as Volkswagens.
Some might say that I sounded panicky, I say spirited. I demanded that Dad physically remove them all from the water, immediately.
Why was he just standing there when their lives were clearly in danger?
I was certain that they were contracting some unknown supervirus in there.
And now all eyes at in the park were on us. As usual. And not in a jealous way.
Cut to the picture of our walk back home. One flabbergasted dad, one lunatic mother and four drenched, muddy, sulking children.
That was not the picture of the perfect family.
But it was the picture of my perfect family.