Unlikely Angels

A day of shopping with children is worse than a bullet to the head. (I don’t actually know this. I’ve never been shot in the head, but I wish I had been on Thursday.) The wind blew, the snow fell, and roads were icy, and for reasons still unclear, I ventured into the storm in search of ballet shoes with three kids – none of whom are independent enough to get themselves into or out of the car without my undivided assistance.
“Ok guys, get in the car.” Pause.
“Come on. Actually lift up your leg and place your foot in the car, then hoist the rest of your body up and sit in the seat.” Pause.
“Let’s go! It’s cold, and I have two more of you to get in.” Pause.
Grab child by scruff of coat and jam into booster seat. Balance baby on hip, half-hearted yell at other child to get out of traffic, battle with petrified hermit seatbelt, dodge grey slushy spray from car parking in next spot.
I hate that wet ring you get on the bottom of your pantlegs during winter. The longer you’re out the higher it creeps up the back of your legs. And jeans get so cold and stiff when you’re getting gas in sideways snow. I try to stand so still that my pants won’t touch my legs at all.
Anyway, in and out of the car, in and out of the store, back in the car and out again, in another store, back out, in the car, out at home, then unload. Shopping is redundant bliss.
We always visit the bathroom first thing upon entering any new store. We bring the shopping cart and all because the baby has to sit somewhere while I unbuckle and buckle belts and wipe off nasty seats and give lifts to reach the soap and water. Fortunately, Wal-Mart has made their bathrooms nearly big enough to accomodate this.
Thursday a saint of a woman offered to stand with my kids while I relieved myself. I always end up holding it, when I’m out with the kids.
“Evelina, are you done? Wash your hands and stand by the cart with David while I go.”
“. . .”
“No, Evelina once is enough. Come stand with him, I really need to go.”
“. . .”
“I’m sure your hands are dry. Come over here, please. Don’t climb the shopping cart. Just stand. NO. Don’t pull David out by his legs! Just stand by him.”
“Casey tell me when you’re done and I’ll do your belt.”
“I do it by myself.”
“What is your problem?”
“I have to pee.”
“Then go.”
“I can’t.”
“Why?” – coming back out of stall next to him –
“Casey, all you have to do is say, ‘Mommy, I need help,’ and I’ll help you.”
“Pease you help me?”
“Evelina! Quit hanging off David’s legs!”
“Alright, Casey, lets wash your hands. Don’t rub the soap all over me.”
“Can you two just stand next to David without hanging on him or climbing the cart while I pee?”
Then an Angel of Mercy appeared in the bathroom:
“Do you want me to stand with them while you go? You look like you could use a break.”
“Yes! Thank you!”
She was perfect. They talked to her and David’s poor stretched legs were left alone. She was so natural with them and not condescending the way some people are to kids. I never wanted to leave that stall. It was spacious and somewhat clean. But most importantly, I was alone! Oh blissful solitude! I could have set up a nice little apartment and never come out again. “One is the Lonliest Number” carries absolutely no credibility with me.
At the end of the trip, we stopped at the bakery to get cookies before checking out. I only asked for three cookies, one for each kid, but she gave me five, which was enough to keep the kids occupied for the duration of the line.
I stopped at the doors before walking out so that I could zip up all the coats and grab onto all lose children so they wouldn’t be carried off on an gigantic snowflake. The greeter lady just walked right up and started zipping coats and pulling on hoods. Then she even let the kids climb into the little motorized ride that’s always at the front and put money into it. I was busy bundling the baby, so it was a welcome distraction for the kids.
Later at gymnastics, I had to leave before Casey was done to drive Evelina to ballet on time. I slid all the way back as fast as I could but he was already out of class when I arrived. One of the other moms went ahead and put on his socks and shoes and coat and waited with him till I got there.
I don’t know the names of any of these ladies who were kind to my kids and me that day, but they must have been angels because I was surely in need.
Thank you!

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