Over the last six months, things have gotten so much more manageable when it comes to going out in public places with girls. But every once in a while, I get a little cocky. And those gals put me right back in my place.
Mother’s Day in Boston was a gorgeous day, sunny and breezy. After a morning of indulgent “me time” (I slept in, was brought Dunkin donuts and coffee for breakfast, read for awhile, went to the gym, then sat outside in the sunshine with a magazine) I wanted to spend a little quality mother-daughter time with my gals. I decided to take them into the city, to the Public Garden. It seemed like a terrific idea at the time. On my own with the girls (and their doll strollers) at a city park that also happens to be a major tourist attraction, on a beautiful Mother’s Day? Sure! No problem! Piece of cake!
Yeah, well. Not exactly.
Things started off well. We got up and out of the Boston Common garage and across the street into the park without incident. First stop was the “Make Way for Ducklings” statues, mobbed with other small people and their parents, snapping photos. Elsa and Clio saw the other kids sitting on the ducks and figured they probably should do likewise. I snapped the obligatory photos.
Actually, during the course of our outing a lot of other people took photos of the girls, too. Or just grinned and commented and “aww”ed. They did look pretty cute, I guess, so purposely pushing around their twin Curious Georges in doll strollers. And Curious George is something of a Boston icon, so he fit in nicely with the ducklings, the swan boats, the skyline views, etc. (The Curious George books are published by Boston-based Houghton Mifflin and the authors were longtime Cambridge residents. Bit of trivia there for ya.)
We headed over to the lake next, to feed the ducks. The girls each had a bag of crumbled bread, which they attempted to fling into the water. Much of the time it didn’t travel much farther than a few inches, owing to a strong headwind. But some pieces managed to make it in. I was feeling all cooler-than-thou because I let my girls go right onto the stone curb at the edge of the pond to throw their bread, while a mother nearby was freaking out anytime her daughter — probably six or seven years old — got within two feet. The water in the pond, at the shores, is about a foot deep so, while a fall would have been a messy proposition, it wouldn’t have been life-threatening.
But my laid-back mom bravado quickly vanished when we attempted to go further into the park. While Elsa charged ahead at a breakneck speed with her stroller, Clio dawdled behind, stopping to point out the Swan Boats for me (here comes another one, Mommy!), stare up at trees, gape at a mounted policeman’s horse, etc. In retrospect, she was probably also stalling to avoid the crowds we were headed toward: the bridge across the lake was like a freeway, more jammed with pedestrians than I’ve ever seen it before. Many of these people were attempting to take photos of each other standing against the rail, so the traffic periodically stopped and started and generally followed erratic and annoying patterns.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t hold the girls’ hands, because they were pushing their strollers. Until they decided they didn’t want to do that anymore, so I got stuck holding both strollers, trying to maneuver my way through the crowds, while at the same time trying to keep Curious George and his twin brother from tumbling out onto the pavement. Meanwhile, Clio continued to dawdle and Elsa ran back and forth from one side of the bridge to the other — totally oblivious to the other people there, several of whom almost tripped over her — to see the Swan Boats go under on one side and back out the other. Trying to get the girls off the bridge onto the (only slightly less crowded) paths on the other side was like herding cats, and I had a few moments of sheer panic when I couldn’t find one or the other of them for a few seconds.
Honestly, it was lousy judgement on my part. The doll strollers, the bridge, the crowded setting in general….I will not attempt something like this again on my own. At least not in the immediate future.
Once we were off the bridge, it was a little easier to keep the gals corraled, but not much. I tried to get them off the paths and onto the grass, where they’d be less likely to get tripped over by people. This was slightly better. Now instead of herding cats, it was like herding dogs. But I didn’t feel like I really had things under control until we made it back across to Boston Common, where I quickly bought a couple of Italian ices for the girls and found us a shady patch of grass to sit in. Dealing with the slurping, spilling and stickiness that ensued was — compared to the rest of our excursion — a walk in the park.