Murphy’s Law, Triplet Style
There are few things more knee-buckling to a mother of three-year-old triplets than suddenly realizing that all three of her beloved offspring are in “one of their moods” at the same time. I felt my knees go weak about 6 a.m. this morning.
The instant I woke up, I was greeted by the “Clingy Whiner,” “Mr. Defiant,” and “The Hyper Tackler.” Knowing I’d have better chances at a passable morning if I got the boys out of the house and into an adventure, I strategized a morning that would get us fed, dressed, and out the door in perfect time to could catch the 9:27 bus at the corner. We’d head to the Riverside Community Center, where a “Mucky Ducks” session would be going on from ten to noon. The boys love Mucky Ducks, which is British for “extremely messy.” My kind of adventure.
But it turns out that messy would start even before we left the house. Just dressing them was a feat. Mr. Defiant wanted to wear his dinosaur pajamas to Mucky Ducks. Clingy Whiner wanted to be LL Cool J, which meant wearing his jeans without a shirt and dancing wildly while attached to my leg. The Hyper Tackler was too busy jumping and crashing into everyone to acknowledge my efforts to dress him. Then I had to dump the breakfast dishes into the sink and pack up our adventure survival backback. Somehow, I had everything ready by 9:23. We raced to the corner with Clingy Whiner dragging at the end of my arm in hysterical tears because he didn’t want to miss the bus. “Use your legs!” I urged. Was it 9:27 yet? Would the bus be early? “Use your legs! C’mon, I don’t want to miss the bus! Use your legs!”
We missed the bus.
The fifteen-minute wait for the next bus was an unending stream of me saying, “Stop ripping the Juniper bushes . . . stop throwing Juniper pieces in your brother’s hair . . . don’t push your bus into the street . . . we don’t kick . . . we don’t push . . . stop pulling on my arm . . . talk in a regular voice . . .” By the time the bus pulled up, I was as sick of the sound of my own voice as I was of the Clingy Whiner’s. Not that the bus driver could tell that anything was amiss. My boys turned on their charm for him, boarding his bus with smiles and chipper greetings as I hauled myself in behind them. “They’re so cute,” the bus driver said. “Uh-huh. Yeah.” I replied.
The Mucky Ducks session bordered on being fun, but it was a little difficult for me to fully enjoy it because Clingy Whiner was dragging me about the children’s center, whining that he was hungry and what should he do now? What should he do now? There were tractors and cars and a pretend kitchen with pots & pans and a tool bench and MUD…. six of his favorite activities at his fingertips. In hindsight, I’m sure he was overwhelmed by the variety of activities, but at the time I was distracted by the fact that my arm was being slowly worked from its socket. At one point, about half way into the session, he even asked to leave. I knew that the staff would be setting out snacks soon, which would end at least one of his crises. And the other two boys were finally happy and calm. No way were we leaving.
We should have left. The snacks didn’t stretch very widely across the twenty or so kids there, which ended up giving Clingy Whiner more to whine about. Putting my finger in the dyke, I promised him and his brothers some snacks from ASDA next door, Lowestoft’s version of Wal-Mart. I needed milk anyway, so off to ASDA we trekked. That’s where my three dear children amped up to Full Torture setting and I nearly abandoned them.
I can’t even bear to write about those thirty minutes. Suffice it to say that my efforts to steer my cart straight with three sets of arms pulling it in three different directions had my shirt back wet with sweat. When we left ASDA, I was hollering at two of my children not to run in the parking lot and staggering below a backpack filled to bulging with three pairs of spare pants and t-shirts for Mucky Ducks, two pints of milk, three boxes of cereal, three travel mugs of water, a multi-pack of Nutri Grain bars, three yogurts, three tupperware containers formerly holding pineapple pieces, three spoons, misc. Kleenex and wipes, three toy buses, a first aid kit, three collapsible cups, and a camera. In my hands were three hoodie sweaters and a plastic grocery bag filled with two loaves of bread and one carton of eggs . . . and of course there was Clingy Whiner, who still refused to take a step without tugging my arm. Tell me, whose bright idea was it to live by bus instead of renting a car while we’re over here? It is one blip short of impossible to grocery shop for a family of five when you’ve got three three-year-olds, all your groceries in your hands, and a bus to ride.
Assuming your bus shows up, that is. Ours didn’t, not for forty-five minutes, anyway. Waiting alongside us were three elderly folks, who uttered no sound but who kept their eyes locked on the hellions that shared the bus stop with them. Every time a motorcycle drove by on the busy street, my sons shrieked, “Moto! Moto!” and jumped wildly. Every time a police car drove by, they shrieked and jumped wildly. Every time a yellow car or a blue car or a green car drove by, they shrieked and jumped wildly. I tried to distract them with NutriGrain bars, they merely shrieked through partially chewed food. I tried to distract them with toy buses, they merely shrieked as they rammed their buses into the bus stop shelter. I tried to plant each one’s bottom on a different part of the bus stop bench, they merely shrieked, “I won’t sit!” The old people kept watching us.
Then, wouldn’t you know it, the boy who decided two weeks ago that filling his pants was preferable to sitting on the potty (this, after a year of being fully potty trained) announced at the top of his lungs “I have to go poopee!” No! I thought. Here he was, finally telling me instead of just cutting lose, but there was no bathroom nearby. Darned if I’d walk them all back to ASDA and miss the bus. Who knew when the next one would come? But what could I do?
The old folks trained their eyes on me as another white-haired gentleman rode up on his mobile wheelchair. He stopped and joined the audience.
I looked left then right. I looked up then down. I dropped my face into my hands. Calgon take me away! Then inspiration hit. Glancing once more down the street for the bus and seeing nothing, I dove into my bulging backpack and dug out the spare plastic grocery bag that I’d tucked in it weeks ago. I also extracted a package of Kleenex. “Behind the shelter,” I ordered. My three sons stopped shrieking. The old people watched. “Behind the shelter,” I repeated. “Why?” my sons all asked. I nudged the boy who needed to do his duty. “Just go.” Of course, all of my sons followed me and then shrieked in delight as I made my firstborn squat over the bag while I held it under his bum.
So there I was, a plastic grocery bag of human waste in my hand, and we all know how well plastic grocery bags hold liquid, with four old people and three young people watching me, and no trash can in sight. You know what happened next, don’t you? Of course you do: The bus pulled up.
The boys shrieked and raced to the bus, climbing right on. “Wait!” I screamed to them with no effect. “Wait!” I screamed again, this time for the bus driver. What was I supposed to do with my leaky bag of Super Yuck? I think my head actually spun on my neck as I looked for more inspiration. I could just let the bus doors close and wave as it drove off—no, that wouldn’t be right. “Mommy!!!” one of the boys screamed from the bus. A-ha! The NutriGrain box at my feet! I grabbed and hastily up-ended the box, dumping the bars in with the eggs and the bread. Then I carefully placed the nasty-filled bag into the empty box and prayed that its flimsy cardboard would contain any leak. “Mommyyyyyy!!!!!” “Coming!” I heaved my backpack over my shoulder, staggered a few steps backward, then righted myself and hustled to the bus with my bread bag and poop box.
But I froze with my foot on the bottom step: In front of me sat the only driver in the fleet who charges me for one of the boys. “Great,” I muttered. I lowered my load to the floor of the bus and dug out two one-pound coins from my pocket. There goes $2.40 I could’ve used on something very chocolate later today. I paid, picked up my goods, and turned to find the bus completely full. My boys were standing in the aisle, with no place to sit. And no chance of getting a seat, as the bus was filled with white-haired people. Around here, the bus-riding pecking order is very clear: the elderly sit, the young stand. “It only gets better,” I actually said out loud. The lady at my elbow smiled sweetly.
The bus lurched forward, throwing me several steps down the aisle.
“Grab a pole!” I ordered my children while I clutched my poop box and tried to cushion my bread and eggs. Clingy Whiner grabbed a pole then stretched his arm out to me in the classic “I neeeeeeed youuuuuu” pose. I turned my back and grabbed my own pole. I neeeeeeed chocolate.
The bus eventually emptied and we got seats. But not before my sons tripped up departing passengers and one nimble old fella climbed over me, inadvertently kicking the poop box as he did so. I managed to keep hold of it, stunned at how close he’d brought us all to Fatal Exposure. When we reached our stop, we were the last people on the bus. My sons filed off in their usual cheerful manner, saying “Thank you. Bye-bye” to the bus driver. He smiled and told us, “See you next time.” Yeah, me and my $2.40.
I wish I could say that the traumas stopped there, that the boys filed home in that same polite manner. But they didn’t. They ran ahead of me, shrieking and ducking around corners. And because that’s the way my day was going, I had one last hurrah before I got my little hellions down for their nap: The contents of the Poop Box clogged the toilet in our rental.
We don’t have a plunger.
As I stood there staring at the toilet, wondering what I’d done to bring this day upon myself, a little voice behind me said the only thing that could’ve been uttered at this particular moment in time: “Mommy, I have to go poopee.”
And that, my friends, is Murphy’s Law, Triplet Style.