Inside the house, four children are daunting. They come into the world young, spirited, and full of ideas. The trouble is, we have already been here for years, decades, eons. We are already tired when they get here, and then they don't sleep for years and years, so by the time it gets to the really tricky parts like making dinner and tending to their eternal souls, we don't have a lot of fight left in us.
Outside the house, four children are indomitable. Out in the public view, the parents are always aware that we are one slip-up away from losing control and becoming the subjects of small, unreasonable dictators. Our greatest asset is that, for now, they don't know their own strength.
I've been dealing with some pretty major fatigue in general, so I've been doing partial grocery trips, just picking up essentials like ice cream and Coca-Cola. A couple of nights ago, the Man of God decided to go with me, along with our offspring, to have a dinner out and then tackle Walmart as a unit.
I did a little prep, and set up Team Daddy and Team Mommy grocery lists. Some people in my marriage were concerned about the length of the Team Daddy list and required visual confirmation that the Team Mommy list was equally long. In reality, the Team Daddy list had been adjusted to allow for Toby walking 200 feet behind while reading a book. That book was almost purchased for $9.98 before a parental conference revealed that neither parent had authorized such a purchase, and it was snatched away and refunded in a storm of pleading and explanation.
Team Mommy had the two younger kids, Tristan, who mostly said, "Can I get out now? Please can I get out? I need to touch the cereal, I need to touch the chicken eggs" and Brynn, who had dressed in full cowgirl regalia and greeted every stern Midwesterner with a "Howdy, pardner." I'd say she got about 90% blank faces and 10% confusion, but she was unmoved, already riding her horse to the spaghetti sauce. Cowgirls don't need your approval, Missouri.
Listen, the team leader of Team Daddy held up admirably. I had strongly suggested he follow the list precisely, since there have been occasions when, being sent to the store for milk and eggs, he comes back with 4 kinds of colored cereal and Easy Cheese, but maybe not so much milk and eggs. His team got all but 2 or 3 items, and I had known those were a long shot. Oh, and they also bought a massive inflated chair, so that balanced the force.
The whole project took a couple of hours. We left for home a half-hour after their bedtime. "Where are we going now??" they said, so hopefully. Team Mommy and Daddy were unified in our response of "Nowhere, ever again."