They had been running all morning. Literally, running in open greenspace, running circles inside a gazebo, running alongside the stream, running anywhere and everywhere they could.
Running crossed into normal lunch time, which bumped lunch time into nap time.
We didn’t care. We were having fun. Fun was the theme of our spontaneous weekend away. No plans, no watching time…we promised to just be.
But eventually, we had to eat.
We found a salad and sandwich menu taped to the window of the coffee shop near the park. Seemed pretty perfect to me, because coffee shops usually serve quick food done right. We were after something fast, because I knew the clock was ticking – two sleepy kids were about to cross into overtired land, and so help us all if their bellies weren’t full when they got there.
I ordered our lunch at the counter, then joined Mister and the littles at the table. The seating area around us filled quickly, and we were glad we arrived before everyone started to pile in.
Just as we were surrounded by patrons, Hoss’ switch flipped. He filled the coffee shop with echoey wails of wanting to sit by Mommy. Which would have been fine if he didn’t have to climb over Daddy, his sister and a bohemian sketch artist to do so. “Be four,” Mister and I reminded him, and he quieted.
What, you didn’t know that only threes and younger throw tantrums, and that there’s nothing worse than being mistaken for three when you’re four? Get with it.
As soon as that crisis was averted, Lady A crossed into the overtired zone. Although, her way of expressing this is a little different. She goes into this hyperactivity-without-fear state, which means we’re either trying to distract her from trying her latest stunt, or spotting these stunts. She started jumping off of the single step near our table, over and over.
We let her.
We went back and forth a few more times – helping Hoss pause before overreacting to things, distracting Lady A with phones and amateur napkin puppeteering and Simon Says, in between trips to the counter to make sure they didn’t forget our food. That gets tiring.
After way more time than it takes to throw together a couple of sandwiches and a salad, we were served, we ate, and we started to gather our things to go.
Like I said, the seating area filled quickly so it was emptying all at the same time, too. We were leaving just as the family sitting nearest us were leaving. A woman stopped me.
“Your children are lovely, and I hope the next one comes well, too.”
She was with her husband and what appeared to be her three grown children. They were dressed as if they had all just done something active together, a hike or something. One of two things happened. It’s possible that she saw what I saw and realized the intensity of what we were doing because she had been there once before. It’s also possible that she didn’t at all see what I saw. She saw kids just being kids. Either way, her sentiment was exactly what I needed at the moment.
I suspect that’s why her kids still hike with her at 30.