"Hi, Hon. On the way home tonight, I am going to stop and pick up a gallon of milk, two children, McDonald's and Chinese food. Then, I'm bringing all of that home."
I stopped and picked up the gallon of milk, then arrived at the school to pick up the littles. Sweet Pea did not want to leave school, she wanted to finish coloring her picture. Buddy was thrilled to see me (even though it looked like he was having fun before he saw me). I was able to eventually collect everything that both littles bring home on Fridays (blankets, reports on what they did during the week, artwork) and usher the littles out the door.
We made it out to the van, I buckled them into their car seats, and began backing out of the parking space. That is the moment when time slowed.
Sweet Pea kept up a constant stream of chatter, sprinkled with whining, and liberal doses of minor shouting fits. Because Buddy was in the van too, there was more than enough sibling bickering going on as well.
And that was before we were even able to pull out into traffic.
On a good night (at the height of our local rush hour), it takes about 20-30 minutes to get home after I pick up the kids. We weren't going home, we were going past home to the McDonald's closest to our house (so the food would (in theory) still be warm when we arrived home.) I'd forgotten how fun Friday night rush hour traffic can be... especially with the Bicker Twins in the back seat.
I also forgot how many people opt to pick up McDonald's on their way home from work on Friday nights... and how slow the crew at this particular McDonald's is.
I called Hubby at home and asked him to call the Chinese restaurant to tell them we were running late (already about 20 minutes passed when we should have been there to pick up our order, and with only a glimmer of hope we would be at the Chinese restaurant to pick up our food 20 minutes from the current time).
Hubby called me back about 10 minutes later to check in (apparently, he heard something in my voice that he thought might be worth a follow up call.) The Bicker Twins were quiet while I was on the phone of course, but at the same time Hubby called, I was getting our McD's order through the drive-thru window.
In no time at all (another five to seven minutes), we were finally on our way to our last stop before home. Because of the traffic and traffic patterns around the restaurants, and because after living in this area for nearly 15 years, I still get flustered easily when it's dark and the Bicker Twins are in the back seat, I ended up going a bit out of my way. I finally made it to the Chinese restaurant and thankfully, that whole transaction lasted about 2 minutes.
When we were about three minutes from home, Sweet Pea said "I think we should be quiet now, Buddy." I rolled my eyes and bit my lip to keep from saying something not very nice to my four year old.
My energy was still sapped, and this whole after work adventure had left me more tired and impatient and on edge. I felt like the defeated walking dead when I walked in the door.
I distributed the Happy Meals, kissed Hubby and promptly went upstairs to change. I had been wearing jeans and keds and a shirt to work, but even that wasn't comfortable enough for me. I was never so happy to climb into my gray sweatshirt and yoga pants in my life.
The Chinese food was awesome, dinner was a hit. For once, everyone ate the food set in front of them.
After dinner, the Bicker Twins continued. Constant chatter combined with both of them trying to be "more right" than the other. At one point, I really did (nicely and calmly) ask Sweet Pea to please be quiet for just a couple of minutes. She couldn't or wouldn't do it. That was the other little thread woven into every minute since I picked up the littles from school -- they refused to listen to me.
As I captured Buddy at one point to change his rather aromatic pullup, all I could think was "I am tired and looking forward to vegging out in front of the television after the kids are all in bed."
After he was cleaned up and his pants and his shoes were back on (because the boy loves his shoes), I helped him up to a standing position.
Buddy was eye level with me, and smiled a big smile at me. I couldn't help but smile back at him and his mischevious grin. That's when he wrapped his little arms around my neck and gave me the biggest hug I've had all day. It wasn't a "hug and run", either, he held on and on and on.
When he was done, he leaned back, his arms still around my neck, looked at my face again, and planted a big ol' open-eyed kiss on me. The kiss ended when he began giggling.
He stepped back and began telling me "a story" -- "Mommy beeg mussa! Foootbaw!" I took that to mean he had big muscles for football.
I haven't entirely forgotten the very very very very very long ride home (90 minutes as opposed to the 45 minutes it normally takes me), but that hug and kiss and giggle put a serious dent in my weariness.