A few weeks ago, I decided to take my children to the Crayola Experience as an afternoon activity. I thought it was the Crayola Factory, but Experience was probably more accurate, because I’m pretty sure they’re not making the crayons at this location. And, for me, it was definitely an experience.
We were a party of four, one adult to each child and my aunt and I took advantage of the opportunity to leave the stroller in the car. Typically my life is two against one, and the stroller is a must. But with two adults, man to man defense is possible, most times.
It was a great afternoon, super cute crayons and markers were made. We learned about the Crayola version of Play Doh, “a superior product,” according to the staff person, and much fun was had. The children behaved like rock stars, going from room to room without so much as a peep of resistance. They even seemed to take the news of our visit’s end in stride.
Then, in a super generous gesture to convert my daily passes into season passes, my aunt, the other grown up, needed to have her hands free to pay and could not continue to carry my son.
Charlie bolted like a boy with a plan. Like lightening, his two year old little feet hit the polished concrete floor running. He jetted straight under the roped dividers. And no, he didn’t run parallel inside the ropes, like civilized people at Disney. He cut his own path, straight under the dividers, missing the ropes by inches. I trailed a few feet behind him, doing what must have looked like a drunken limbo as I tried to keep up.
In the course of pursuing Charlie, I had to set Giuliana down. Now, both of my children were darting around the room. From the ticket line through the coat room and to the water fountains my little lovelies were running laps and laughing their little heads off as I pursued them.
To exacerbate my shame, Charlie let out a cough that sounded directly out of a TB ward. The last lingering symptom from a cold he had weeks before, it was a cough that he typically had once a day. And I guess this was the moment. So, as I ran around like a woman on the edge, I added the task of uttering “he’s not sick,” to everyone and no one in particular.
At some point, I was able to grab one child, and then eventually the other. It was a blur who surrendered first. I staggered to the register, a thirty pound child on each hip. I had won the battle, but I was defeated. I was a mortified, sweaty, exhausted mess, whose hair was more all over the place than usual.
I stood at the counter, hoping that the staff person had satisfied her information gathering needs and and I could be released from this embarrassing experience. I had given birthdates, addresses and more. I know it is not true, but it felt like forever. I wanted it to be over. I wanted the clerk to take pity, hurry up and let us get out of there.
As I stood with burning biceps, holding my two wiggling children, the clerk twisted the knife. “Okay,” she said, “look right over here and smile, Jill. I’m going to take your picture.”