I thought we'd have a good time. There's always lots going on in our historic district on the weekend - a Farmer's Market, an Ice Cream Crank Off (it's what we do in Texas when it's too damn hot for a Chili Cook Off) and the regular draw of downtown and all of its funky shops. I only had the twins, as Aquaman and our oldest were off on Mustang Island in our old hamlet, Port Aransas.
So I didn't have to prod Thing 1 much to get out of his pajamas and get ready to go. He didn't want to walk the few blocks to Chestnut Square where everything was happening, but I was insistent. I did have to wake up Thing 2, even though it was already 10:00 a.m. But he was agreeable enough to venturing out and seeing all the goings on.
And then we walked. In the heat. And they kept sniffing and wouldn't blow their noses, although I had tissues. I got more annoyed with each step. Then there was the crowd. We don't do well in crowds. People are annoyingly slow and in your way and keep bumping in to you. We bought some fantastic peaches and a few treats at the General Store and then Thing 2 was whining, "Let's go home! I want to go! It's hot. I don't want to sit here for an hour and wait for the ice cream contest."
I tried to shake it off. But he persisted in being negative and whiny while Thing 1 and I made our way around all the annoying people to look at all the fresh produce and handmade goods for sale. "Can we go home?" Thing 2 whined for the fifth time.
"You can go home anytime you want," I snapped. "Start walking. See ya later. Have a good time."
He stuck with us for a little while, but when he sniffed again and I told him to blow his nose or else, he peeled off from us and started in the direction of home. Solo.
"We finally shook him!" is what I was thinking, triumphantly. I am evil.
So Thing 1 and I walked downtown and had quite a pleasant time going from shop to shop and sitting on the sidewalk drinking old-fasioned sodas out of glass bottles.
Only once did it cross my mind that Thing 2 had no phone, no identification on him, and probably couldn't reliably recite my cell phone number. If he was hit by a car or kidnapped, what would become of him? I banished the thought and we kept browsing shops.
When we'd had enough, we walked through the park on our way home and I had the urge to grab Thing 1's hand as we crossed the street. He jerked his hand away from mine as I reached for him. As if I had stung him. Then he looked at me like I was crazy.
"What?" I said, hoping I sounded wounded. Which I was. "I wanna hold your hand!"
And just like that, I realized that it had been a very long time that I had held one of their hands as we crossed the street. It happens that way. They slip away from you when you're not paying attention. Or when you're overwhelmed and sick and tired of holding hands and wiping butts and picking them up. Then you go from annoyed to nostalgic. Like an idiot.
I knew that getting any of our three sons to hold my hand anymore was a long shot. In fact, holding a boy's hand was now a punishment from a boy's point of view. It's a new weapon in my arsenal of discipline. If one of them is acting ridiculous in public, I make him hold my hand. They absolutely hate it. It is very effective at controlling unacceptable behavior. I tell the offender, "If you're going to act like a fit-throwing toddler, I will hold your hand like a fit-throwing toddler." Of course, when they were fit-throwing toddlers, I'd just walk away from them in the store, pretending to abandon them or that they were someone else's and they would usually quickly stop and follow me in silence -- all a mom can hope for sometimes.
Except now I wished for a hand to hold. A sweaty boy's hand, sticky with peach juice and with fingernails that needed cutting.
I settled for draping my arm around Thing 1's shoulder the rest of the way home where we found Thing 2 safe and sound.