It's been (un?)seasonably cold around here lately, temperatures below freezing, which, for us, is virtually unheard of. Among other realizations having to do with my children's total lack of appropriate cold weather gear, I've come to realize that having kids in the winter, real winter, takes MUCH more time than I'm used to. I thought I had this leaving the house with two kids thing wired, but all the extra accessories has meant getting out the door is a 20 minute affair, minimum. I've become even more of a hermit than usual as a result and am even more loathe to get the kids out of the car when we do leave.
Case in point: I went to the post office last week to mail Christmas packages to my family. As I drove past the post office, I saw that every single parking space was filled, which meant there would be a huge line inside and controlling my kids was going to be a trial and a half while we waited. So, I chose the path of least resistance and drove right past the post office to the UPS store in the next strip mall. This sleepy little store was deserted when I drove up, so I parked right in front, parallel to the strip, left my car running with the hazards on, and said to Toddler J, "Mommy will be right in there, 20 feet away, and I will be back in 2 minutes. You will be able to see me the whole time." To which he shrugged and said "Okay" and went back to reading his dinosaur book. Baby E, meanwhile, had fallen asleep on the way over, so he slept blissfully on, yet another reason not to get everyone out of the car.
I went in to the store and things were going smoothly, until my cashier decided it was really better to repackage my two boxes into one, and then she had to delete the first transaction but didn't know how, then she got the address wrong, then she had to reprint, and suddenly my two minute errand was stretching on and on. I kept looking outside at the car, watching J, who would look up from his book periodically and glance at me but then go back to reading.
As the woman's incompetence continued to spiral out of control and more and more customers and additional cashiers arrived, I must have gotten increasingly fidgety, because all of the sudden, the owner stopped in front of me and said sternly, "you look nervous." I motioned outside at the car and said "my kids are out there" and looked back at him. When I saw his expression, I realized that one, he wasn't questioning me idly, two, he was standing an inordinately large distance away from me, and three, this man genuinely thought I was about to go postal on his establishment or was shipping a bomb or worse. I laughed lightly and repeated myself, nervously mumbling something along the lines of "just the kids out there, nothing else going on, hahahaha, just don't want to leave them in the cold too long..." resisting the urge to say something like "And no, I'm not mailing anthrax" since I was pretty sure that wouldn't help the situation. He nodded curtly and walked away but kept his eye on me the whole time I was there, another several minutes because of his crappy cashier.
Moral of the story: mail your Christmas packages early! (What, you thought it would be something else?? Silly!)