Museum Tour

“The next tour is at 2:00,” the man said. 

The man sat on the other side of a glass counter. His name badge bore the honorable title of Manager, a job he took most seriously. Only the upper half of his body was visible, he was a slender man with small forearms that were covered with dark hair. His thin fingers danced over the keyboard as he worked through screens. 

“And you can prepay for that tour now.” 

Stepping forward, the woman rested her forearm on the counter. She led a group of women from several blocks away for a long promised historical tour. She too was slight with a magnificent bun on top of her head, adding several inches of height. 

“We were told the tour started at 1:00,” she said, summoning her queen energy.  

Her heart started to accelerate as she wondered if she wrote the time down wrong. It would not have been the first time. She was no stranger to nerves or numbers misbehaving.   

The man pursed his lips and made a hmm…ing sound as he stared at the glowing screen. 

“When I called last week, the person said they would waive the fees,” the woman said. 

“Oh,” the man chortled, really,” he said with a tone that made it a statement, not a question. 

The woman felt the slow creep of disappointment begin to build. He was not understanding, she was not paying for the tour that was starting in ten minutes. 

“We were told it would be covered,” the woman repeated.

Four women stood behind her with eight eyes, watching her every move. They were used to let-downs and empty promises, things just not working out and the other shoe dropping, always. 

It was already over. 

“Let’s go,” one woman whispered. 

The man behind the counter said, “I’m sorry, there is no note of that here.” 

Disappointment crashed in around the group, powerful enough to wash them out the door and down the path, but expected and in that, the crush was manageable. 

Except their leader wasn’t budging.

Brought out by the noise, a tall, red headed man emerged from a backroom.

“My group is here, right on time,” he announced with a smile. 

“We spoke last week, right?” he asked as an afterthought.

“Yes, thank you,” the woman said.

“Y’all head over to the house and I’ll get everything unlocked.” 

The woman flashed him the smile she saved for special occasions, like this one, when the nerdy knight with a lanyard saved the day and the museum tour. 

Do as I say

“We’re hot,” Little Legs said.

He was the self-appointed representative of the brothers now. Not that his sibling was fighting it.

Baby Brother was fine with the arrangement, provided he got exactly what he wanted, all the time.

Little Legs sailed past me on the swing.

“See how high I can go. I don’t like to be pushed by you,” he said.

Baby Brother sat motionless on his swing and yelled, “Push me, why are you not pushing me?”

“Sorry, sorry, I was…”

“Push me,” Baby Brother demanded.

He did not appreciate my scientific endeavors. I was leaned over examining an unusual ant hill shaped like a dog’s ear. I flicked the lump over with a stick and three, tiny red ants scurried out. I expected a hundred to run out and felt a little disappointed.

While I try to avoid causing suffering, I am also curious about the world around me. I hoped the ants would dig a new hill-house quickly and felt remorse about my momentary lack of regard for their well-being. I tried to justify it by thinking what’s a homeless ant matter, anyways?

I reflected on a hike we had taken the previous day. Baby Brother discovered a bright yellow creature with a thousand legs wiggling its way across the path.

“Look!” he said, crouching next to it.

“I’m going to squish it,” Little Legs declared.

He pulled his leg up and prepared to stomp when I said, “No, don’t! It’s just trying to get home. We don’t want to intentionally hurt anything.”

“Why?” he asked.

There wasn’t enough time to explain all the reasons.

“For starters, it can feel pain,” I said.

“How do you know?”

“And it wasn’t causing any harm to you. And we just don’t go around squashing and stomping on things.”  

Only flicking and flipping, I felt with a twinge of guilt at my do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do-parenting as I write and remember.

It’s a process to keep the balance of motherhood with personhood, being a teacher of little humans and a student of life, staying in the present and still processing the past, while planning for the future.  

All I know is that for all my mistakes and shortcomings, I am doing my best and that is enough.

People Pleasing

Little Legs was tasked with getting the popsicles.

“What color do you want?” he asked Baby Brother.

“I want blue,” Baby Brother said.

“And what color do you want?” he asked me.

“Red, please,” I said.

“Ok, ok,” Little Legs said, making a mental note.

He pulled open the freezer, rummaged around and extracted three specially selected-to-order treats.

Baby Brother got orange, I got white, and Little Legs got blue in a fair-enough-nobody-gets-what-they-want type of way.

“Thank you,” I said.

I cut the tops off each one and tried mine.

It was coconut, which was a problem because I hate coconut. Strong language for a popsicle flavor, I know.

“Do you like it?” Little Legs asked. 

His face turned up towards mine, as a sunflower to the sun, he was hungry for my reaction. I was left with a quandary, to tell the truth or say something to not cause any pain or discomfort.

People-pleasing was learned early in my life; only recently have I started the process of stopping and asking myself for honesty and finding that the truth is the best answer.

“No, I don’t care for that flavor, but I appreciate that you picked this out for me.”

He took it in stride, proving that people of all ages can handle disappointment.

“You get what you get,” Little Legs said.

Baby Brother said, “And you don’t throw a fit.”  

They waited a long time to dish that one up and I, too, could handle it.


Tiny Town has many attractions and is usually filled with a mess of kids running in every direction. Caretakers lean against the walls and sit on benches, watching their wards and scrolling through their phones. There is an effort to not be too involved but also not too far away in case there’s trouble.

There is a large, plastic tree in the center of the village around which the rest of the town is arranged. The post office is next to the grocery store with plastic fruits and vegetables, gummy from the grungy hands of the “shoppers”, there is a music room with drum sticks that work best on a sibling’s head, a workshop without any tools and a medical clinic with a rubber hammer and a plastic stethoscope and syringe.

I only had eyes for my boys as they raced from place to place. One eye for each boy when they separated into different areas and then reunited. They held hands and ran together into the medical clinic. Immediately, they became the Blond Boy Doctor Team and I was the patient in need of serious medical attention.

“Sit,” Baby Brother said and patted the examination table. 

“Ok, but no shots today,” I tried to bargain.  

He gave me a knowing nod as though to say, the doctor knows best, and you are definitely getting shots. 

“I check you out,” Baby Brother said.

He gently tapped my shoulder with the rubber reflex hammer and nodded while his brother prepared the plastic syringe. 

“Time for your medicine,” Little Legs explained. 

“You need band-aide?” Baby Brother asked.  

Already at their tender ages of 2 and 4, they have excellent bedside manners, I thought, and they are so handsome. 

My reflection was cut short when a mangy haired boy, a full head taller than Little Legs, stomped into the clinic. I first noticed the biker boots, two sizes too big, black and scuffed, tied with rainbow laces. He wore purple galaxy pants and a plain black t-shirt. 

He held out a pair of plastic forceps and began his reign of terror, pinching in the air like a crab out of the water and then locking onto my shirt and stomach. 

“Stop it,” I said.

He pinched me again. 

I screamed, naturally, and ran out of the clinic with the heathen child still attached via pinchers. What could I do? I didn’t want to put my hands on the crab-boy but he was trying to hurt me. 

“Stop it, kid. You are hurting me,” I said. 

Still, no caregiver in sight. Was this boy here on his own? What did he want from me? What would he do to someone smaller than him if he was willing to take on a full grown woman? 

Hello, was anyone going to help me with this wild child?

Little Legs and Baby Brother had seen enough, they stepped into action. 

Little Legs gave the kid a chest bump which sent the boy flying to the side, while Baby Brother wrapped himself around my legs as a buffer. When the boy came back, Little Legs was waiting. He gave his best dinosaur roar and held up his claw hands as a warning. This time, the boy left for good. 

The Brothers were victorious. 

I do not endorse any kind of fighting or physical interventions, we don’t spank or curse or even yell, for the most part. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of how they jumped to protect me with the leg wrap and dinosaur approach.

They are my sweeties, medical providers and heroes, and it’s all in a single day’s work for them.

Sun Puddles

Sunlight broke through the tall trees in warm yellow splashes on the shadowy path. Two blonde boys ran ahead of their dark mother, their feet pounded the ground with each step. They had yet to master the art of walking lightly.

Birds chirped at them, unseen from the bushes. Leaves rustled on the ground, disturbed by an invisible something slithering away from the stompers.

“Got another one,” Big Boy said.  

Little Boy followed behind his brother, carefully stepping in his same steps.  

They hopped from one spot of light to the next.

“We’re jumping on the sun puddles.”

Their mother shook her head and laughed, “Sun puddles?”

Another day and another discovery, she hoped there would be no end to the delight her children found in life. Yet, she knew it would happen as they came to understand their world better; she accepted that that was the natural order of things.

No parent wants their child to be a Lost Boy refusing or unable to grow up.   

Her hope was that as they grew into young men, they still saw the wonder in the world and every so often took the time to jump right in the middle of a big, splashy sun puddle.

Baby Chicks

While driving on a sunny morning, I looked off to the side of the road. A rusty pile of farm equipment and tall weeds nearly obscured the view of a lively chicken coop. Red and brown hens hopped around and pecked the dirt floor of their fenced-in enclosure.

“I spy chickens.” 

“Where?” two passengers asked in unison.

I was their tour guide on the road of life, pointing out things of interest and breaking the silence with my voice. 

“Over there, you missed them, too bad.”

Like any good tour guide, I teased my patrons. I knew there would be no tip offered at the conclusion of our ride, other than something about remembering to bring snacks at pick-up. Good snacks. Not the healthy kind. No carrots. 

Their tips felt more like directives but I was willing to take anything they were giving out. And the teasing felt warranted. 

“Can you still see them?” 

“See what?” 

The passengers had forgotten what we were looking at through the debris.

“Chickens,” I reminded them.

“Oh, chickens,” Little Legs said. 

“Chickens,” Baby Brother echoed. 

“Yes, chickens. Would you like to raise chickens? You would have to start eating more eggs to make it worthwhile.” 

“Eat baby chickens?” Little Legs asked. The pitch of his voice raised with his level of concern about the request. 

He caught me off guard. Of course, they are baby chickens (sort of) but I had stopped making the association of food from its source, of seeing food for something that one must grow and raise, harvest and kill. 

I was forced to recognize the realness of the chicken and its eggs and felt a fresh sense of compassion for our feathered friends. 

Will I still have a fried egg with my pancakes? Yes, but it will be with a greater appreciation for its gooey, golden goodness. 

And we will have more meat-free nights during the week. Beans are the magical fruit, after all.

The Dog

Coco ran away, again.

Of course, it was right before we were preparing to leave for a doctor’s appointment. We couldn’t be late, and we couldn’t leave with the dog’s whereabouts unknown. It was a true dilemma. (Dilemma: a situation in which a choice must be made between two alternatives, also a word that I can barely spell without spellchecker.)

“Let’s drive around and see if we can find her,” I said.

“Load up, boys. We have a naughty dog to find.”

I put on a calm front, like it was no big deal, while inside I felt my blood pressure start to go up as my window of tolerance began to close. Everything was not fine, and that dang dog was going to make us late.

We took a loop through the neighborhood with all the windows down, shouting, “Coco” on repeat.  

“We have to go, guys. We can drive by the house one more time and then we have to call it,” I said.

As we cruised past the house, lo and behold (a phrase meaning: look), Coco had reappeared on the porch, shiny and black with her pink tongue hanging out of her mouth, panting from her freedom run.

“She’s back, she’s back,” Little Legs said.

Baby Brother screamed, “Coco!”

“Well, there she is, I am so mad at that dog,” I thought out loud, feeling the irritation as a pressure in my chest.

“Why are you mad, Momma? She came back?”

She did come back, I nodded my head, took a deep breath and checked in with myself.

I wasn’t mad.

I was scared that she was going to get hurt by another dog or run over by a car and then would have to deal with the aftermath by taking her to the vet or explaining death to my boys. I was inconvenienced that she was missing, and I was frustrated by my own poor time management.

Using a minute of mindfulness helped me to breathe and make the headspace to see the truth of the situation.

It wasn’t the dog.  

It was never about the dog.

The Gift


An irrational fear of joy or happiness.

“I just can’t shake the feeling that the other shoe is about to drop,” the woman jiggled her leg, recrossed her legs and resumed jiggling.

Of note, she was barefoot.  

“Let me rephrase that, I know it’s going to happen. I just don’t know when.”

“And this is because you are able to see into the future?” I asked.

“No, it’s just what always happens, so why would this time be any different?”

Good point, better give up now, I thought and wisely held my tongue, reflecting for a moment. She had lost sight of the positive things in her life, with a memory like Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good. She was so focused on the million bad things that could happen in the future; she wasn’t aware of the present.

My father-in-law had magnet on his fridge that said something like, the past is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present. I remember looking at it when I was 19 and never forgot the message.  

We can come out of our stream of thoughts about yesterday and tomorrow and check into the right now. The present might feel painful or boring or exciting and wonderful, regardless of the experience, its real and its ours for the taking.

Boys will be boys

The cherry red Power-Wheel Jeep ripped around the yard, sending grass and rocks up into the air.

A blond-headed two-year-old gripped the steering wheel with his twin-separated-by-18-months brother on the passenger seat next to him.

The bigger boy leaned over and yelled, “Let’s go fast!”   

“Otay,” Baby Brother said. 

They raced around to the front of the house, away from the watchful eyes of their parents.

“Stop!” the bigger boy yelled.

Baby Brother said, “Otay.”  

The jeep skidded to a halt. The bigger boy threw one leg over the side, pulled himself out of the kid-sized jeep, and raced over to the garden where his prizes awaited.  

Tulips of every color, red, orange, orangey-red, reddish-orange (really just two colors) grew on green stems and bobbed in the wind, beckoning the plucking fingers of naughty little boys.

Big Brother snapped the flowers, one after another. They broke with a popping sound and the boys smiled.

“Let’s take them to Mommy,” Big Brother said.

“Otay,” Little Brother agreed.

And they set to work, liberating the rest of the tulips from their stems.

Soon they had a handful of flowers and a flower behind each ear like hula girls, but these were country boys.

Rough and tough.

And perfectly adorned with flowers.

Swim Instructor

The young woman sat on the couch and laughed. She must have gone home to change after school because I am sure she didn’t wear a baggy black sweat suit all day. She tested her long nails against her other nails which met with a click, click, click.  

Baby Brother rolled onto his back and began to play the harmonica on each inhale and exhale, he was ready for show-biz.  

“I haven’t updated you on my job history, have I?” the babysitter said.

I knew this was about to be juicy and checked in on Little Legs before she started.  He was inside of a pillow nest of his own creation. It was cartoon time and he was in the zone. We were fine to talk for a few minutes.  

“No, I guess you haven’t,” I said.

“Well, I had a job at a boutique for about three weeks.”

I silently calculated the time frame for this. It was a perfect match for the past month of missed dates, previously credited to the flu, a schedule mix-up and just needing a little time away.  

“And now, I am a swim instructor at the YMCA.”  

This time, I was laughing.

“What?” she asked.

“You told me you couldn’t swim,” I said.

“So, its just with little kids and the water is not that deep,” she shrugged.  

I shook my head and smiled, hoping that the two actions cancelled one another out.

I worked with a man once who was known for his one-liners like, “You do you.”

And this instance reminded me of another one that he always said, “It ain’t that deep,” usually in reference to an overthought situation or scenario.

It was comforting when he said it, coming from a place of wisdom and experience, and incredibly discomforting hearing similar words from our 17-year-old babysitter/swim instructor/future adult of the world who didn’t see how not being able to swim as a swim instructor might be an issue.  

Am I worried about the future, knowing that our babysitter is one of many with the same type of lackadaisical beliefs?

Yes, but maybe it is all for nothing and at the end of the day, just maybe, it’s not that deep.