My life is a logistical nightmare. Take vacuuming for example.
OBoy loves himself some vacuum, which would work nicely if he had the gross motor skills required to actually be effective at the task. Unfortunately, vacuuming to him looks like leaving the appliance tipped up and loudly whirring in the middle of the living room while he disassembles the various attachments and drives trucks over the tubing. And be sure that theveryinstant he sees me get out the vacuum, he will not rest until he has commandeered it. Thus, vacuuming on two (and a half) year old’s patrol is not an option.
OBrother, on the other hand, would like absolutely nothing to do with the loudish sucking machine. Vacuum on: waaaaaaaaah!! Vacuum off: calm. Vacuum on: waaaaaaaaah!! You get the idea. Thus, vacuuming while the baby is out and about is not an option either (at least, not a peaceful one).
While they’re both sleeping, you say? Well sure! Happily! Except for, you know, the fear stricken heart racing panic I feel at the very thought of voluntarily making noise outside their room once they’re down for the night. It’s something I can stomach about once a year – typically the night before we have company coming.
That? Was just vacuuming. Now picture this:
It’s 1:00pm. The boys and I are on our way home from a very fun trip to the library. Despite my best efforts to talk to OBoy, even giving him some crackers to munch on for the drive, he falls asleep before we get home. OBrother does too, but this is no surprise. I find myself with two sleeping boys, a diaper bag, a book bag, and a half-finished latte to get into the house. The possessions are less concerning, as there are no laws as to their proper care and supervision. The children, however, are a trickier matter.
What is the precedent here? I have heard horror stories of mothers being arrested for walking feet, yards away from their cars while their children are inside. And don’t get me wrong, I would absolutely call the police if I thought a situation with an unattended child warranted it. I know moms who are comfortable with kids staying in the car while they jump into a café or store, so long as the car is visible. I’m not there yet, nor may I ever be. I have been known to bring the entire posse into Papa Murphy’s and then request an employee’s help getting us (and our unbaked pizza) back to the car.
On cooler summer days I have let OBoy continue napping in the car while I water the front landscaping or the like. A few times when OBrother was taking his morning nap, OBoy and I went outside and played in the (lack of) snow. Once, there was a front loader digging a hole for pipes two houses over and across the street. With OBrother sleeping in his crib, OBoy and I ventured some 80ft away and watched the machines work from our sidewalk.
Always in situations like this I wonder. What’s ok? Where’s the line? If I wanted to go 2 houses farther down, is that too far? Or is it more about duration of absence? Is it alright as long as the house or car is in view? Or as long as I’m not in a different building/structure? Within earshot? Frequently checking on them? Have the monitor with me? What is an unattended child and what is just the reality of having as many children as I have arms?
To complicate things, in my post-library, car-bound sleeping children scenario, I am parked in front of my house. That’s right, street parking. We live in the city and while we have a garage on the alley out back, the stairs to the house back there are catawampus and I don’t feel safe traversing them with the boys. Two sleeping boys, one street-parked car, one house 40 ft away. What would you do?
Here’s what I do: I take the baby out of the car, still in his infant car seat. I lock the car doors after extracting the baby. I unlock the house and set him inside (in his seat) and pray with every fiber in my body that he stays asleep. Then, I return for OBoy. I unlock the car, pull him from his seat, and whisk him upstairs to his bed.
Because this wasn’t complicated enough, I still need to put a nap diaper on him (remember? He wasn’t supposed to fall asleep on the way home.) so I lay him on his bed and apply a diaper with the expertise of a neurosurgeon. With OBoy sleeping, diapered, under his covers, I return for the baby. I carefully unstrap him and attempt the transplant to his crib. If successful, I then return to the car for the bags and my now cold, half-finished (or half-left?) latte.
Finally, I collapse onto the couch.