I count my children all the time. I don't know what it is about five. I didn't do this a year ago. But now, I constantly feel like I may not have them all. I count grocery cart seats. I am forever thankful to the inventor of the grocery buses. You know the ones where I can put a toddler and infant seat up top while my two preschoolers pretend to drive the cart? They are a blessing from above. But seeing as how these are not always available I often have to practice counting to five all while grocery shopping.
As I reached the checkout stand on Friday I glanced around and began to count my little ones. One, two, three, four...where is the fifth? Wait. I must have counted wrong! One, two, three, four...no I counted right! Where is J?! I quickly told the cashier I was missing a child and would be back for the rest. I don't know what she thought; I simply waited for her to acknowledge that she heard me.
Off I frantically ran, back the way I came. You know these are times in which one's brain acts as if it is trying to power an entire city, but you really don't care if your hair stands up on end. I am watching the exit door for my daughter, looking down every isle, and asking people if they saw a child all at the same time (while not waiting for a response unless their eyes light up). After what seemed like ten minutes, near the ice cream, I found J walking with a woman who was trying to help her. I don't even know if I thanked this woman properly...I seriously do not remember what I said. I was in a hurry to pick J up and get back to the rest to make sure no more had gone missing.
Fortunately I loaded my car up with five kids that afternoon. And I learned I had better stop and pay attention when someone (T) points out popsicles because if I don't, someone, particularly her highly distractable sister, will go and check them out for herself while I take off down another isle.
But apparently I am not counting often enough.
On Sunday our family went to church, made a stop at the home improvement store, and then came home. We unloaded our purchases and the children and came inside. All of the kids were more than hungry so I got down to making lunch in a hurry. Ryan was putting away things and I asked the kids to pull out plates for lunch.
Usually about that time M is already in his booster waiting quietly. It suddenly dawned on me: I had never asked any of the kids to help him take off his shoes and jacket! I had never even seen him inside! Me: "Ryan, did you bring M in from the car?" Ryan: "No, I thought you did." Me: "No, I thought you had him". We exchange looks, raised eyebrows, and a "Ohhhh, that poor boy!" Never mind that it has been about fifteen or twenty minutes and it is only ten degrees outside!
He was rescued, sniffles and all, from the garage.
So, if you ever see a mom with her nose buried in her list, ingredient checking, or intensely price comparing down to the ounce while her many children try to pass the time dreaming of popscicles, just know that she is the one who goes with the child you saw alone near the bakery. She will be forever grateful!