And I strive not to pass them.
Church by myself followed by a play with four children by myself in a town one hour away?
Past my limits.
And yet ...
All of this started about a week ago. I was taking the girls to ballet. I was listening to NPR. I actually am not a huge fan of NPR, but my van's radio has gone out somewhere in the moves all over the world and it is the only station I "sort of" get.
So I'm listening, and a local commercial comes on from a radio station at ETSU (East Tennessee State University) offering two free tickets to the children's play: Madeline at a theater in Bristol, TN. Third caller wins.
So I called.
And, yes, you guessed it ... I won!
Okay so it was really exciting to win, and now I am the owner of two tickets to a children's play. Only problem is the three shows I am offered seats to are on the three days that JB is working, his parents are out of town, and my babysitter is busy.
After racking my brain as to how I could find a sitter for three of the four kids (I hadn't even thought ahead to who I would take yet as my one child), I called the radio station back and told them that I so appreciated winning, but I just couldn't accept the tickets because I had four children and only one ticket for a child, and no one to watch the other three kids.
(Yes, I had thought about calling and seeing if I could purchase three additional tickets. However, if I am being honest, I did not want to go to a play with all four kids by myself an hour away from my house. It sounded too challenging. I would rather let the tickets go to someone else.)
The next day I received a call from the Theater. Apparently the radio station had called them and told them of my plight, and now they were offering me tickets to bring all my children.
At this point, I felt I had no choice but to say thank you SO much, and I truly appreciate the gesture. How could I tell them I wouldn't accept the tickets when the excuse I had given for not going was that I couldn't find a sitter.
But at the same time my first thought was: Holy cow. I am going to have take all my kiddos by myself to a play. This includes Hannah who has not yet demonstrated the ability to sit through anything longer than Daniel Tiger.
So on Sunday morning I found myself giving instructions to our two WWOOfers to be able to hold the fort for me while I was gone, loaded up the troops (and lunch) in our van, and headed to church. After church, we headed down to Bristol, for the play.
Coincidentally, just the evening before, the city of Bristol (which is split between the states of TN and VIRGINIA) and hosted the "Battle at Bristol" which was held in the Bristol Motor Speedway. It pitted U of Tenn. against Virginia Tech in what would be the largest football game EVER. The town was still very decked out from the event.
Yes I know Hannah was standing my herself. She knew I wanted them all together so she decided to do something about that desire.
I had to figure out how to seat the kids to cause the least amount of fighting. Isaac is Switzerland so I finally opted to put Sidge and Hannah on one side (with the option to pull Hannah onto my lap if need be) ....
And Isaac over with Abigail. These two NEVER fight. Honestly.
I was, I must admit, intimidated. Taking all four kids by myself to any event where one may have to leave to go to the bathroom or where Hannah may decide she doesn't want to be there, is a bit "BIG" for me. But I decided to go for it.
My strategy included:
- Three different kinds of candy for Hannah. I have learned (from past failures) that she gets bored with one kind of candy after about 20 minutes. So three kinds should get me through a one hour show.
- Give older kids some treats before the show and explain to them that they wouldn't eat any during the show. This was to bribe Hannah and Hannah alone. End of story. I can't be passing candy to four kiddos during the show.
- Take everyone to the bathroom before the show and at intermission to hope that no one has to go during the play.
- Buy popcorn to keep kiddos busy before show starts.
The final result? The kids did wonderfully. They all loved the play, and Hannah was actually watching it. She did occasionally speak out fairly loud about something happening. But the theatre was filled with young children, and this did not prove a problem at all. She did utilize the candy, but overall, it was not as mandatory as it has been in the past.
We returned home with very little drama in the van.
Kudos to me! I knocked it out of the park, and my kids got some culture at the same time.