When the Going Gets Tough


Who suggested that taking both kids on a walk that was “just a little past where we normally go” was a good idea? I just wanted to welcome the new neighbors with a fresh-out-of-the-oven loaf of pumpkin/chocolate chip bread.

Wait, it was my idea to take the kids. They make conversations easier by providing incredible distraction. For someone who is not a natural small talker, the presence of two loud and inquisitive kids is a complete life savor. They provide a quick solution to awkward silences. Clint, can you wave hello?…Mason, tell them how old you are….Mason, get out of your brother’s face. They also provide a quick escape. You need to potty? Ok, we better go… They’re really sleepy; we’re gonna leave so they can take a nap.

Using them (I mean taking them) was a great idea.

But letting Mason ride his scooter was a horrible idea. Horrible.

Sometimes (often) I look back on a decision and think….WHAT WAS I THINKING? This time, that thought presented itself about 75 yards into our walk, but I was determined we would get through just fine.

The 3 year old whining persisted even after we got to the top of the first hill. As I pushed Clint in the single stroller (key word: SINGLE) with one hand, I convinced Mason to walk while I pulled the scooter with my other hand. My carpal tunnel started flaring up.

A neighborhood dog, who Mason named Fred, joined us on our journey, which seemed harmless enough until he realized there was a baby in the stroller and he kept stopping directly in front of the stroller to get a sniff. Darn dog. At least he’s nice, I thought, until I got a whiff of the horse manure that covered his legs. He was further frustrating our efforts to arrive at the neighbor’s looking (and smelling) like we are people they might want to hang out with sometime.

We made it to their house alive, but I immediately feared for their little dog’s life when Fred ran after it. I could hardly wait to get down their driveway to tell the guy in the yard that the big smelly dog did not belong to us. The man looked a little confused as I struggled to push the stroller down the gravel driveway. He was in the middle of a phone conversation about his broken-down lawn mower. He tried to hide his frustration as he got off the phone. Mason wouldn’t budge when I told him to hand the man the bread. Clint wouldn’t wave or say a word. Thanks for the help, kids. I told him we just lived right down the road and wanted to welcome them to the neighborhood. I’m sure he could tell by the sweat dripping off my forehead that we weren’t from “right down the road”, but whatever.

As he told me about his kids, I watched over his shoulder as his four wheeler slowly inched forward on its own. I tried to pay attention to what he was saying and wondered if I should tell him that his four wheeler was still in Drive. It (thankfully) came to a slow stop when it ran into a big pile of dirt.

I brought a smelly dog who is running after his little dog, I don’t remember a word he said about his kids, and I almost watched his four wheeler run into his tree. I’m a great neighbor so far.

We said a quick goodbye and yelled for Fred. He wouldn’t come, probably because his name isn’t Fred. I apologized for the dog that wasn’t mine and started walking away. Mason began whining halfway down the driveway. When I told him that riding in the stroller was not an option, he said, “But I’ll ride in the basket underneath!”

If you’ve had a 3 year old, you know that forcing something could only make things worse, especially when they’re hot and it’s past nap time. Insisting he walk would potentially earn me the label of “the crazy mom who’s making the screaming kid walk”. Instead I chose to be “the crazy mom who’s making her 3 year old ride in the bottom of the single stroller.”

I gave in.
I gave in.

Just as we were trying to make this work, another neighbor pulled onto our road. As he rolled down his window and lifted his eyebrows in amusement, I just busted out laughing. I guess it was a culmination of mental and physical exhaustion. All I could say was, “Don’t ask.” He smirked and said, “Ok, can I at least take the scooter back for you?” “That would be great!” I said, still giggling. “Actually, do you care to take Mason to your house and I’ll pick him up?”

I was still laughing as I watched them drive away. Thank you God. I can’t believe Mason agreed to go with him. Then again, I think Mason remembers that this guy has a son his age. In fact, he has been BEGGING to play with him recently, but I’ve never felt close enough to knock on their door and ask if I could leave my kid for a while.

When I got to their house, the mom was sweeping the floor. I could tell she had just piled all of their shoes on the stairway and was trying to get the kids to clean. She welcomed me but mumbled something about “all the dust” in the same breath. She should see my house.

Mason was in the middle of an intense game of something that involved swords and monster trucks with his 4 year old friend, and he never even knew I was there. The mom told me he could stay and took my number so she could let me know when he wanted to leave.

I smiled as I pushed the stroller back to my house. Why is it sometimes so difficult or awkward to get to know our neighbors? We usually try to act like we have it all together, apologizing for the screaming kids, the dust and the smelly dogs, but these are often the very things that bring us together.

Our stressful walk didn’t go the way I had expected it to, but it ended in the best way possible. Oh, and come to find out, “Fred” was actually “Pooter” (appropriate), and he belongs to Mason’s new playmate.

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