A few days ago, Sean and I took our little tribe, fondly dubbed, "The Ishumites," to the birthday party of their twin friends. You would think that a large enclosed room in a church would make it easy to keep up with them. Ha! The joke was on us.
The party was pretty straight forward: lunch, cupcakes, bounce house. All within four walls. But apparently, that's all that two-year-old quadruplets need to get into trouble.
And because I know you all love reading stories about our adventures,
this is what it's like to take four toddlers to a birthday party:
Not long after we arrived, it was time to eat. Sean and I made four plates with various samplings of food that our kids were sure to love. Of course, once we caught all of them and had them sitting at the table, all four kids refused to eat. Too much excitement! Plus, there was a bounce house. Can you blame them? But still, I wanted them to eat a few bites before running off to play.
Grabbing her and the cupcake, I tucked her chosen dessert back on the counter, and turned around to see Caleb with his hand in the bowl of strawberries on the buffet table. "Son! Do not put your hand directly in the community strawberry bowl!" I glanced around hoping that his lack of buffet etiquette wasn't too noticable by the other guests. Trying to act nonchalant, and I'm sure failing miserably, I led my little scavenger away from the table and told him to go play. Lunch wasn't going to get eaten. I signaled to Sean that he might as well let the other three go play, so he let them loose. (Side note: thank goodness for parenting tag-teams!)
It was obvious that the bounce house, running around in circles, and grabbing random items off of the tables were more entertaining than lunch, so although I had briefly hoped that they might return for a few bites, it was pretty obvious that I was wishing for the moon. But I didn't want their lunch just sitting there where my kids could make a mess, so I started cleaning up the four barely touched plates.
...and then looked up just in time to see Abby pick up a cup of lemonade and attempt to drink it. Did I mention that the cup had no lid? She doused herself completely with the lemonade and stood there looking at at it in shock.
I ran back to the kitchen, grabbed a handful of paper towels and handed them off to someone else to clean up the puddle while I tried to clean my daughter up. Thankfully, we had a change of clothes since Caleb did the exact. same. thing. at the last party we went to a month ago. Hey, at least we are getting smarter. I stripped Abby down to her diaper, and she let out a scream.
I swear this girl is a never-nude. You know, like Tobias from Arrested Development? Not even kidding. We are "allowed" to change her into her day clothes in the morning, and back into her pajamas at night. But that's it. It would be funny if she didn't scream at the simplest things like removing her socks or taking off her jacket. *sigh* She screamed until her dry clothes were on, and then all was good. And yes, everyone wondered what the heck was wrong with my child. Proud mommy moment.
Sean was chasing the kids as much as I was, but he suggested that I grab some lunch. I told him that he should go ahead as I was guarding the cupcakes with my life. Nothing, not even barbecue, was going to pull me off of my post.
So Sean made a lunch plate and started eating as fast as he could. Abby ran back over to the food table and grabbed another roll, and when I turned around, Caleb had effectively used her diversion to get his own cupcake.
Seriously, kids?! You do NOT eat the cupcakes before we sing "Happy Birthday!"
My cupcake collection on the counter was steadily growing larger, and I found myself starting to pray over the remaining cupcakes. "Please, God." I breathed as I pulled Ellie's fingers away from the big birthday cake. "Please let us sing "happy birthday" soon before my kids destroy the dessert table."
Only a mother can understand a desperate prayer of that intensity.
Thankfully, not too long after, the birthday girls surrounded the table with their parents for the "happy birthday" song. Everyone stopped what they were doing, picked up their cameras, and prepared to take a photo of the candles being blown out as the birthday song went along.
...and then Caleb streaked across the room directly in front of the table as the song was winding down.
C'mon! I felt like the world's worst mother. Even with Sean and I both trying to keep them in line, we were so outnumbered, it wasn't even funny. Embarrassing. Humiliating. And then I felt the jealously start to crop up. I was jealous of my friends who were there with their singletons.
And then there is me. Hot, sweaty, irritated, distracted, and ganged-up on. When we brought them through the door, they were our tribe. Now they are our gang. And they are hazing us.
It was a humbling, and not-so-gentle reminder that I still don't have any idea what I'm doing as a parent. The other guests (who were also friends) helped us collect our kids from walking out the door, stopped them from licking the sound system, and pulled curious fingers from hand bags and diaper bags. Without them and my husband, I might has well have handed Abby the entire cooler of lemonade and let her climb into it.
As much as I hated being massively embarrassed, I think God must have given me quadruplets to remind me that no matter how hard I try, I can't completely control the people around me or what they think.
But, of course, I wasn't able to come to that conclusion until later on in the day. The rest of the party was spent much the same way as the first half of the party. It was capped off with a manhunt of epic proportions for Ellie's Little Bunny who was AWOL.
Half of the guests ended up helping us look for it. All of the gift bags were gone through a second time, The bounce house was moved so that we could look under it, we crawled all over every piece of furniture, checked under every table, and opened every cabinet that was accessible to the kids. I even went through two trashcans, piece by piece, digging through the remnants of a barbecue lunch in search of Little Bunny. No bunny meant no sleeping. For any of us. Period. But after a huge hunt, we realized that Little Bunny had completely vanished.
We left the church with our stomachs in our throats. After our birthday party adventure, all six of us were in desperate need of a nap. And we knew that between the missing bunny, and the three cupcakes that Abby was able to sneak off and eat over the course of the party, no naps were in our future.
We eventually found Little Bunny, wrapped up in a changing pad at home. It looks like she was put in the diaper bag originally, and then one of the changing pads was taken out to make room. She got caught in it and missed the party.
Missed the party? Is it possible to be jealous of Little Bunny? Because her peaceful couple of hours in a quiet house sounded seriously appealing.
But no, I really love my gang. I do. And if there was another birthday party tomorrow, I would take them to that one as well. I want them to have as normal a childhood as they can even though it's not exactly conventional, and I'm grateful for my friends who choose to include my kids in their events even though we are clearly outnumbered.
I'll tell you this though, next time, I'm planting myself next to the dessert table as soon as we get there.
(P.S. Why isn't there a photo of Elijah in this post? Because he was moving too fast to snap one.)