A quick glance over my list of things to do today revealed that I needed to make a quick trip to the post office to mail out some packages. I sighed, dreading the packing up of the children to drive a short distance to a place not really suited for small children. I looked at the clock - 10:00 am. "Okay, I'll go now since the baby just had his bottle and should be happy enough for the trip," I thought. "This will probably take 20 minutes or so and then I can get all these other things crossed off my list."
Ha ha! Let me now teach you the anatomy of a "quick" trip to the post office:
10:05 am - Tell the children we are getting ready to leave. Instruct them to put on their shoes. Ask oldest child to stop whining about not being able to find one of their shoes. Look for shoe. Oldest child suddenly remembers that she left it at Grandma's. Patiently find another pair of shoes for her to wear. Look over at child #2 and note that he has taken OFF his shoes. He doesn't remember where he put them. Spend 3 more minutes searching for shoes. Find them stuffed in the garbage can. (?) Clean off shoes and put them on his feet again.
10:15 am - Send two oldest children out to the van, telling them that if they hurry and get in their seats, they will get a special treat. Buckle smallest child into his infant carrier. Realize that smallest child is emitting a foul odor. Unbuckle child and change his diaper. Rebuckle him in his seat and take him out to the van. No special treats there! Oldest child is playing in the driver's seat and second child is eating old french fries. (Pause to think - when did we last have fast food in the van? I can't remember - yikes! those fries must be old!) Hastily instruct second child to spit out fries and get in his seat.
10:22 am - Oldest child buckles herself in, thank goodness and then cries because she wants a book she left in the house. Unsympathetically telling her to get over it, buckle second child in his seat. What is that smell? And what is this goop on my hand?!? Ah, second child also needs a diaper change. (and a clothing change!) Unbuckle everyone, herd everyone back inside, and change second child. Wash everyone's hands and repeat the buckling process.
10:30 am - Lock up the house and start up the van. Pull out of driveway and begin heading towards the post office. Realize that the packages are still in the house. Turn around and pull back into the driveway. Unlock the door, get packages, and relock the house. Get back into the van to hear oldest child say, "I have to go potty now!" Unbuckle oldest child, unlock the house again, and send her in to do her thing. Try to be calm when she comes back out of the house wearing NOTHING on her bottom. Correct the problem and wave sheepishly to the neighbor pulling out of his driveway. Restart the van and make a second attempt to go to the post office.
10:38 am - Arrive at post office. Pull two lollipops out of purse and show to two oldest children. Remind them that they will receive those lollipops if they behave in the post office. With infant carrier and packages on one arm and two toddler clinging grimly to the other arm (make note: second child needs his fingernails trimmed!), attempt to enter post office through the skinniest door in the world. Watch helplessly as several people walk by without helping, and finally thank the ancient man who tries to hold the door open wide enough. Take a moment to pray and thank God that there is no long line today. March children up to the counter and wait while the packages are weighed. Ask postman to wait a second and retrieve second child before he rips into a package of special-edition stamps. Firmly hold his hand while deciding on what kind of shipping to use, paying for the shipping, and signing a few forms. Parade the crew out of the post office.
10:48 am - Buckle youngest and oldest child in van. Realize that second child has made a break for it. Unbuckle youngest and oldest child and re-enter post office to retrieve second child. Buckle all children in the van and distribute lollipops. Drive home in complete silence (except the occasional slurp on the lollipop).
11:00 am - Arrive home. Hooray! The "quick" trip to the post office only took one hour! Can't wait to see what else gets done so quickly today...
(and people wonder why I don't get out of the house more...)