So many of my days recently, I've just been praying to end. Just get through today. Just make it bedtime. Please don't let me strangle anyone before breakfast/dinner/bedtime. But today was a better day, today could have lasted forever.**
**Until 6pm, but that's later in the story.
We slept until 5:30am, which, around here, is late! Chester even went back to sleep at that point, while Pete and I snuggled and Ryan got ready for work. He was going in late because we were driving him in with some equipment that can't ride on his motorcycle.
Pete happily got dressed (instead of crying about changing out of his pajamas), and enjoyed eggs and toast with Daddy while I packed a bag for the day. I wish I could have recorded a picture of the look on Pete's face when Ryan told him "YES, we are going to drive over the Toby bridge this morning." Seriously, you might as well have told him we were going to Disneyland.
Chester woke up just in time to have eggs and toast in his jammies before getting in the car. Considering he's been getting up at the crack of dawn, I'm not bothered in the least that he left the house in his jammies because he got up "late" at 6:.30am.
The day got even better when we arranged a last minute playdate and grocery date at Hanscom AFB, and of course, when I told Pete where we were going, he was just thrilled to death. For the record, that's TWO consecutive hours so far of totally gleeful pre-schooler- no whining and crying, and no screaming or spanking. Who cares that we were stuck in Boston's rush hour traffic? And who cares that Mommy took a wrong turn off the Elliot Bridge and we were headed for who-knows-where before the GPS got us turned back towards Route 2? We had nothing but time today. Nothing but happy time.
Arriving at the gate to Miss J's house, Pete asked if we could play on the playground (there are LOTS of playgrounds there, as he tells me every time we grocery shop at Hanscom) and I got to tell him YES, we're playing on the playground with Miss J and Baby O today. I'm pretty sure Pete thought he had died and gone to heaven. In his little three-year-old head, this was the best day ever: Daddy was home for breakfast, we drove over the Toby Bridge, we're going to see Miss J, play on the playground, AND no one has yelled at him yet.
We got Chester and Baby O dressed since they were both still in jammies, and when we were ready to walk to the playground, I asked Pete to hold hands with Little E, the little boy that Miss J watches during the week. This was going to be a long walk, and Little E sometimes wanders away, but I knew Pete could help. They held hands while we walked to the playground, and talked. Oh, my heart just melted listening to these 3 year olds talk to each other.
E: My Daddy goes on a boat. (I'm not even sure if his Dad is in the Coast Guard, but I'm thinking he must be!)
Pete: That's pretty cool. My Daddy used to be on a boat, now he goes to an office in Boston. We took him there this morning on the Big Green Toby bridge.
After playing on the playground for a bit, we decided to walk all the way to the Dunkin for some Pumpkin Spice Lattes and donuts for the kids. Chester no longer wanted to be carried. He wiggled and wiggled until I let him get down to walk. He ran up and joined the older boys.
Seriously, how cute is that? Ignore Pete's bedhead- we dealt with that after coffee!
I told Pete and Little E they were being good listeners, and big boys. We barely had to correct them to keep them on the path. Unbelievably good behavior all the way to the Dunkin.
They ate their donuts and hot chocolate at the table with a reasonable mess, no one cried or screamed, and Chester only made one little run for freedom. While we ate our donuts next to the Exchange's vendor tables, Pete and Little E even listened when we told them to look at the gifts with their eyes, and not touch with their hands.
So we braved the barber shop to get Pete's hair cut. As you can see from the picture, he was more than a tad overdue for a trim. Though the barber shop was crowded, they all sat with bottoms on their chairs and said yes ma'am and please and thank you for the lollipops. Even the little old retired men made comments about what remarkably well behaved children we had. Pete sat quietly for his haircut, though he did help himself to a second lollipop after they finished. So often I'm apologizing for my children's behavior, or hissing at them to sit down and be quiet, trying desperately to distract them enough to keep them quiet while others stare or give me pitying looks. Not today. Today, all we got were compliments.
After a long walk home, they all took naps (shocking, considering our recent sleep troubles) and I was able to grocery shop at a record speed without any children at all while Miss J kept the boys asleep in her spare room.
They woke a bit confused, but not the crying messes they can be after nap! Chester happily gobbled my sushi and seaweed salad, then Pete enjoyed a cheese stick before we piled into the car to go pick up Daddy. Even the hour commute home was fully of pleasant conversation and not much whining.
Everyone, including the dog, had some apples while I made dinner, and then they ATE IT without complaint, and Pete even asked for more. I was beginning to think I'd entered the twilight zone.
But just like that, my bubble burst. Chester and Pete headed out to the backyard and while Ryan was grabbing a beer to sip on the back porch, Pete yelled inside to us that Chester pooped. This was not his normal time of day to poop, and I had thought nothing of letting him run around without a diaper after he took off his diaper to practice peeing on the potty. But clearly when he escaped to play in the backyard without a new diaper I should have expected disaster. My mistake, I'll own that one. But even more horrifying, Pete drove the tricycle through it. Seriously.
Ryan took one for the team and cleaned the poop from the back porch and the tricycle and just as he brought in the cleaning supplies, grabbed another beer and headed back out, he poked his head back in the door to tell me "Pete pooped in the backyard too". I thought he was joking. Sadly, he was not and we had a case of Monkey-see, monkey-doo-doo on our back porch. I'm not entirely sure what Pete was thinking, but the day had gone so well that we reacted calmly even to this mini-disaster. I got Pete inside to the potty while Ryan was again stuck with poopy duty.
Though bedtime wasn't a picnic (it never is) I enjoyed my chance to snuggle in my bed with Pete and his blankie and shark while Chester cried in their room. I told Pete how happy he makes me, how he's my best Pete, and how proud I was of the way he helped with Little E today at the playground and on the walk to Dunkin. I told him he's a good example for his brother. We talked about the new Dinosaur Baby and Pete said he was "a little bit" afraid of the new baby. "A little bit" seems to be his favorite quantitative phrase these days, and the way he says it is just the sweetest thing ever.
It's remarkable how unremarkable today was, but how special it was. I wasn't at my wit's end with them by 7am. No one was throwing a tantrum when we had to leave the playground. No one got spanked and there wasn't any screaming. Pete was a good role model and a gentle friend. I was patient and encouraging with timely situation appropriate praise.
I'd love for tomorrow and everyday to be just like today. Sorry if this wasn't as amusing as most of my harried stories, but for me it was perfect. I'm going to bed with a smile on my face and peace in my heart. Today was a good day.