I had Brooke, so all three kids were in tow as we went to our local Botanical Gardens. It's a wonderful place and it has a great kids area, including a water play zone. There are a bunch of sprinkler like things that the kids can run through, lots of fun. We were only able to go once last year and this is probably our only chance this year too. But anyway, we got there early and met up with Esther, Caitlyn and Evan. We headed straight to the water area and started with the sunscreen. I got Lauren done first and off she went with Caitlyn into the water. At this point we were the only ones there. She wasn't shying away from it, but slow to test everything out. That's normal for her so I started with Brooke and by the time I finished with her, Olivia was demanding me to remove her from the stroller so she could be a part of the action. It was about this time that Lauren came over to me and said she was "hungry"- I was thinking in my head- girls it's only 10:30 we have another hour until lunch go play! This is when the whining started and the refusal to go into the water play area. I then said if you don't want to go in there- then have a seat on the chair, which was right behind me. The desire for food, aka the whining, continued and I finally gave in with a small box of raisins. Matt had given her breakfast that morning and it was on the small side (this girl can out eat Matt and I at the breakfast table). Then Brooke saw the snack and this is where my head felt like it might pop off or spin around until blasted off into space. I asked Lauren why she didn't want to play in the water- her initial response was because Brooke was in there. She's had a few "bratty" moments lately with Brooke, like a sibling rivalry kind of a
attitude. So this made me upset, mind you I was holding those emotions in because was frustrated that I wasn't sure what to do. I talked to her a few more times about going into the water but she wasn't having it. I was also bummed that she was missing out on the fun too, or so I thought.
This is the first time I had taken her someplace and she just didn't want to be involved in the activity at hand. I look back and I'm sure if I was running in there with her she might have been more interested but that wasn't going to happen- it's a neat place but it doesn't lend to mommy's running about with babies on board. Plus, I had Brooke who was full throttle the whole time we were there and I was trying to keep her from drinking the water and taking other's toys. Add to that the stress and frustration I was feeling over Lauren and I wanted to leave. If it had been just me, no Esther, I would have. But I had spent all that time packing lunches, loading up, and I wasn't going to give in that easy. So I stuck it out. After only a half hour of play Brooke was done too. So I took the girls to a grassy area to change them out of their bathing suits and into clothes so we could play and then eat lunch.
Well little did I know that we were standing on mosquito breeding grounds. I was halfway done dressing Brooke when I noticed the first one. Then I glanced at myself and I had 5 just on one leg. I wanted to scream. I wanted to throw a tantrum. I wanted to run to my car with the wet child, the half naked child, and the crying baby who was overdue for her morning nap. But I didn't. I moved everyone to the concrete, less private area and finished getting everyone dressed. By this time Esther had joined us and was changing Caitlyn too. It was then that Lauren FINALLY stopped whining about lunch because she noticed the hula hoops and began playing with them. Then she asked to go get the basket of chalk and played with that. I felt my anxiety lessen, but just for a moment because then Olivia started demanding food.
The short version has me stressed for the rest of the time we were there. The highlights include Brooke putting her foot on Lauren the whole time they were eating, causing Brooke to need a time-out for not listening. Me having to stop nursing to put her into time-out, then her falling off the picnic table-while in time-out, and hitting her head. I never ate lunch. Olivia only got to nurse on one side since things continued to not improve. We did leave about half hour, forty-five minutes early. I think that was the worst outing I've had with the three of them. I hope never to repeat it.
On the way to the car and later that day I spoke with Lauren about what had happened that day. It turns out that she wasn't interested in playing in the water area with all the kids. There was a huge group that showed up shortly after arriving. So she was using the "hunger" as an excuse to be done since she didn't want to play with all the kids there. Looking back- duh, it makes perfect sense. But in the rush of it all, at that moment, I wanted to pull my hair out.
This coupled with that fact that I notice she'll shy away from the areas of places that are swarming with kids at the Children's Museum or the playground. I also noticed at VBS, she really didn't like the opening and closing portion where all the kids were together- she would act a fool.
I have a wonderful friend, Amanda, and she is an introvert. Her oldest son is an extravert. I remember having a conversation with her long before I had Lauren where she said that having an extravert for a child was a challenge for her, it pushed her, made her grow. Well I'm beginning to fully understand just what she meant. Being a mom is very natural for me but it has made me grow and change in many ways. It's a blessing to watch how God placed Lauren and Olivia in our family, specifically for us and how God is using them to help us be better people, people willing to go beyond ourselves to be there for them. I wonder how my little introvert is going to keep me on my toes, as I learn to see the world through her eyes.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17