Fire and Ice
My husband and I took the kids to the Fire and Ice Festival last night: a three-day gathering with ice sculptures, food trucks, and live entertainment.
It's not something that we, being homebodies, would normally attend. But his friends were bringing their kids, and we hadn't seen them in ages. So I left work a little early and we went, planning to eat dinner in the park.
We arrived at dusk, bundled up against the cold, and rushed past the ice sculptures to the food trucks. We stood in line for forty-five minutes. The baby watched the crowd from the cocoon of his stroller while the toddler stuffed his face with kettle corn. Their patience made me proud. By the time we'd purchased our food and found a picnic table, though, we'd exhausted their patience. The baby was getting cranky; the toddler was cold. He and I both had to pee, but the line to the bathrooms was thirty people deep.
Our friends arrived just as the kids reached full meltdown stage. We tried to distract them for a while, but we were cold and tired, too. We gulped down our food in the dark, said a few goodbyes, then rushed back through the crowd toward the parking lot. Both kids screamed the whole way. Shrill, senseless sirens.
In the dark, my mood was all bared fang and broken glass. I berated myself for coming in the first place. It was late; it was cold; I should have known better. I yanked the seatbelt over the toddler's shoulders and crammed the diaper bag into the trunk, then flopped into the passenger seat and waited for the car to warm.
As we drove, the screams dissipated into whimpers, then hiccups and sighs.
From the backseat, a little voice finally said: "Well, this is relaxing."
The absurdity of the statement broke the spell of my bad mood. I laughed long and hard. We all did. Even the baby grinned as if in on the joke.
"Mommy," the toddler said, "I'm afraid of spooky shadows at night."
"Everyone's scared of something. I'm scared of spiders."
"Yes, but spiders are actually good because they eat up all the bad bugs."
"They are. You shouldn't be scared of spiders. Now Daddy, he's afraid of bees."
"I'm not afraid of bees; I just strongly don't like bees."
When we got home, we snuggled up in bed and giggled as the baby bounced on top of the sheets like a court jester. When I thought about the trip the next day, all I could remember was the warmth of our conversation. The fire, not the ice.