I had prepped my youngest ahead of time to let him know that if he got tired, we were not leaving and he was not allowed to act like a pill, but he was completely welcome to take a nap on my lap, which he did. When the second period was almost over, I had to use the ladies’ room and I handed him to a friend sitting near me. He woke up when I was gone but was unfazed, which is probably why when it was his turn to go to the bathroom, and I sent his 7 year old brother to escort him (and my oldest to check on them when they didn’t come back within a few minutes), he (the youngest) took off from his brother and tried to find his way back to me on his own.
My middle son came running back to our seats and said, “I lost him!”
“What do you mean you lost him! How could you lose him?”
Two other moms and I jumped up and were up the stairs in no time. I made a beeline to the disinterested official at the top of the stairs next to the men’s room. I couldn’t seem to get him involved quickly enough so I moved on. The mens room was right there — I sent my oldest back in. Something told me to look down the stairs of the next section and there he (my youngest) was. Thank God. He didn’t even know he was lost.
I asked him, “why did you leave your brother?”
“He was bothering me.”
“But you can’t just take off like that — we were all worried about you!”
“Okay, Mommy.” As if it were that simple.
But, it’s no simple matter for me to take three kids anywhere by myself. Even still, I do it as often as possible. I have taken them to McDonald’s, the movies, the supermarket, church every week, Canobie Lake Park, and across the country in an airplane. We frequently talk about teamwork and the buddy system (hence my comments to my youngest initially about taking the nap on my lap, and not spoiling everyone’s time at the game by whining about going home). I don’t always receive full compliance, though. Like this event at the hockey game, and the drive home, and trip to the supermarket afterwards…
I had to pull the car over three times on the way home, the last time hauling my middle son out of the wayback to separate him from his younger brother. Apparently the exuberance of the hockey game had them all charged up and they felt the need to re-enact all the violent parts of the game.
At the supermarket I had to physically separate my older two multiple times while they fought over who was going to push their younger brother around in the cart. “No one is pushing the cart but me!”
A neighboring shopper empathized, “I’ve been there. My son is 17 now. It goes so fast…”
I smiled weakly at her, but inwardly I was thinking, “Right, you have one. You have not been where I am…”
(My kids thought the term for a child with no siblings is a “lonely child.”)
Families where there are two parents and one child are much different than families with more children than parents. I have a friend who, with her husband, takes her son out to fine restaurants and all manner of cultural events (like the ballet and museums), and he takes all sorts of lessons, probably as many as my older two combined. As I mentioned, we go to kid-restaurants, kid-events (like bowling), and after sports, scouts, and church — I don’t have time for extra music or art lessons or karate, never mind hockey!
The Bigs had the nerve to ask me for quarters on the way out of the store. “C’mon Mom, we know you have some!” (They had brought me change on their numerous trips to the concession stands).
By the time we got to our friend’s house for dinner (which was why we stopped at the supermarket in the first place, coupled with my need to get cash back, because the kids had cleaned me out at the game), I couldn’t take any more. Maybe she felt the same after a long day with her kids. The good news is that they now had each other and the two of us, along with another (childless that night) friend were able to have grownup time and grownup food.