For an impromptu little get together, Sunday's picnic in the park was quite a success. I called or emailed most of our city friends to see who was available for a little get together and while many folks were out of town for the Labor Day weekend, a good crew was lingering in the city. Four families came with one set of grandparents for a total of ten adults and seven kids with the eighth in the oven. My grand plan for playing bocce ball and croquette failed miserably. The bocce set never made it out of Ada's red wagon. The croquette mallets threatened shins and kneecaps as the kids swung them wildly. The end posts were pulled up to create swords. And the wire wickets (the arches you hit the balls through) became tripping hazards. Not one of my better ideas. We'll skip the games until the kids are a bit older and less into throwing and hitting things.
The food worked out much better than the games. Each family contributed a dish and various snacks to keep hunger at bay. The kids picked at their meals and were quickly off and running through the trees and exploring the wide open field. At some point there was talk of imaginary lions in the rain forests of Chicago --yet another cultural attraction our fine city can boast of.
At some point while I was eating and Rick was calming Iain down for a nap, Ada decided it would be a good idea to take off her shoes and socks. Rick and I both assumed the other had helped her manage this small feat since she doesn't typically do it on her own at home. She, in fact, had removed them completely unbeknownst to either of us. By the time we noticed, she was off and running with her friends.
While running wild, Aaron, Ada and Bella started a sprint across the park. Aaron's grandpa was in hot pursuit, but they had a ten yard head start. As the kids maintained speed and were headed toward Lake Shore Drive, the parents all became alarmed. Rick passed Iain off to me and sprinted over to take control of the situation. He made it to them with less space between them and the highway than any of us parents wanted to see, but he made it none the less. Aaron wasn't excited to walk back to our picnic area so he sat down in protest as Ada and Bella started on their way back. Rick was trying to coax Aaron to get up and join the rest of us at the picnic site when Ada suddenly started screaming. Rick ran over to her aid and found a bee stinger in her foot. "This is why we wear shoes!" became his mantra for the next ten minutes of tears and whines as I ran to the closest convenience store in search of ice or sting medicine. Of course the store didn't have anything that would help so I returned to the park to find Ada still crying, in wet pants with an overly full poopy diaper at Rick's feet. Great. He ended up carrying her all the way home while everyone else packed up the party. Our friends helped gather our stuff since I was busy calming Iain who was, of course, overdue for a nap. Once everything was packed up, our friend Ted pulled our wagon to the edge of the park so I could wait for Rick to retrieve Iain and I with the car. There was no way I was going to make it back home with the folding table, packed wagon, double stroller, and an all-too-alert baby Iain. It was no small feat fitting it all into the back of our CRV either.
As we drove the six blocks home, both kids screamed. Rick unloaded the car while Ada watched a movie and I nursed Iain. Once Iain fell asleep, Ada started screaming and woke him right back up. I gave her more ice and got him back to sleep again while Rick went to park the car. He returned to put Ada down for a nap while I put all of the food from our picnic away. Rick took a bath to clean up as I rode his bike back to the park to search for the red croquette ball that we may or may not have ever had to begin with. I didn't find it.
At three in the afternoon with two kids sleeping, Rick and I collapsed onto the couch for a much needed nap. Things that used to be so easy, like having a little picnic in the park, have turned into major productions now that we have two kids. We packed enough food for five kids since we never know what Ada would eat, and then we had to tote it all back home since she never ends up eating much of anything. Now we know for next time.
Moral of the story: When venturing out, take the bare necessities, leave the extras behind, and know that sometimes you just might have to give up and go home.