Pretty much everyone I know has read that blog post on how to give your kids a 1970's summer. Hey, I'm all for it. My laziness is well known through these parts, so pretty much anything that requires zero effort from me gets two thumbs up. Now, I realize that this whole 1970's summer thing is more or less geared towards parents who have older children ("drop your kids off at the movie theater and let them sneak into different movies all day long! Let them play at their friend's house all day without checking in with the parents!" and so on). Well, no. I don't really feel like dealing with CPS, so I don't think I'll be dropping my 4 and 2-year old off solo at the movie theater anytime soon. As far as just bringing them to a friend's house and letting them run wild all day? Pretty sure Maureen and Rashel would permanently block my number, and hide under the tables in their respective homes if I ever pulled a stunt like that. So, losing track of my brood for the day is out.
But wait! "Let them eat whatever they want." Okay, this one I can handle. Sort of. I try not to be a stickler about nutrition...but despite my best efforts, I'm pretty fanatical about the food my children eat. We don't do fast food, or super processed food, sugary snacks, etc. However, I don't ever want food to become a battle in our house (I have seen that backfire many, many times), so our general rule is this: you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as long as it's healthy. That means I always have fresh fruit, string cheese, yogurt, baby carrots, hummus, etc in the house, and Tony and Alessandra can eat snacks whenever they please. I'm a grazer myself, so I wouldn't feel right enforcing the "you WILL eat three square meals a day and that's the name of that tune!" rule around here. But I'm getting off track. Despite my anal retentiveness regarding childhood nutrition, I tend to relax a little bit around the holidays and summer. I also like having spontaneous treat days with my kids, because let's face it, pregnant ladies like the ice cream. And if I'm REALLY getting into this whole 1970's summer kick, what's more old school than a chocolate and vanilla swirl cone from McDonald's? And more importantly, how much damage can one little cone do?
According to the cashier, McDonald's no longer sells swirl cones. Boo. However, they did offer a vanilla cone dipped in a chocolate shell for a mere $1.75. Hey, sounded good to me. I was picturing a small cone in a delicate chocolate shell, a slight mess in the backseat of the car that would definitely involve my kiddos getting a bath that night, and satisfaction all around. Well, the reality was somewhat different. I was handed three ginormous cones; they were steadily dripping vanilla ice cream through a chocolate shell so thick I had to wonder if the McDonald's employees had some kind of Willy Wonka chocolate river in their kitchen. With a sinking feeling, I handed the ice cream cones and a few paltry napkins off to my children, all the while begging them to not make TOO much of a mess. I had barely pulled out of the parking lot when I realized my jeans and t-shirt were covered in ice cream, I somehow managed to get chocolate all over the steering wheel, and my fingers were beginning to stick together. Did I mention I hadn't even taken a bite out of my cone yet?
The mess became so unbearable (and I must reiterate, the mess on ME) that I was forced to pull over into a Mariott parking lot on the way home to avoid getting into an accident. It was close to the end of the day, traffic was getting heavy, the kids were covered in ice cream and chocolate and they were begging for baby wipes, and my hands kept sticking to the steering wheel. I was fairly certain I was about to cause some kind of serious pile-up, and the law would not have been on my side ("Mrs. Tenney, do you mind telling the jury exactly what you were eating when you rear-ended a fuel tank?"). I took a flying leap out of the car, chucked my ice cream cone into the trash can by the door, and made a beeline for the package of emergency baby wipes I always keep in the car (see? I'm not a completely lame parent after all!). I opened the door to the backseat...and I actually had to step away for a second. There was chocolate EVERYWHERE. All over the kids. All over the car seats. All over the passenger seats. All over the coloring books, stuffed animals, seat belts...all I could do was curse my laziness, and wonder why in the hell I didn't just pick up a tub of ice cream at the grocery store like a normal person and have an ice cream sundae night instead.
I cleaned up my crabby kids to the best of my very limited abilities, making multiple trips to and from my car to the trash can. At this point, a small crowd had gathered near one of the doors, and they were alternating between open-mouthed stares at me and whispers amongst themselves. I gave them my best, "move along folks, nothing to see here!" smile, but it did nothing to help my case. Keep in mind, at this point I was just trying to make my kids and my car passably clean; I hadn't given a second thought to my own appearance. It was pretty much at that moment I realized what I looked like to the crowd of people gathered outside the hotel. A gigantically pregant woman, whose clothes were covered in ice cream and had melted chocolate smeared across her face, arms and hair? I'm not sure I've ever felt more unattractive in my entire life.
By the time we made it home, I immediately stuck both of the kids in the bath and scrubbed all the ice cream and chocolate off them. I put them in their jammies, stuck them in front of the TV with an episode of Octonauts, and went out to the car to face the music. To make a long story short, I ended up having to hand wash both car seat covers, scrub melted ice cream off the plastic parts, and actually removed, discarded, and re-assembled a brand new harness to Alessandra's car seat (I had an extra set upstairs in my closet). The straps were seriously that far gone.
After I put my kids to bed that night, I got myself cleaned up, and collapsed on the bed, dreaming of the day when I would once again be able to indulge in a giant margarita. Because I have to tell you, this whole "effortless 1970's summer" has already required far, far too much effort on my part.