I needed bike tubes, and REI was right there. It was just going to be a quick trip in. I unloaded the kids from the car and headed for the store.
But before we could go in they both had to jump off each of the big rocks in the landscaping out front. And then they stopped to squabble over who would push the button to make the store’s door open. Inside they argued over whether we should take the stairs or the elevator upstairs until I reminded them that the cycling gear was downstairs.
On our way to the cycling stuff in the back corner, they stopped to consider the tents and kayaks. And then the kids’ bikes. And then to whine for new streamers/bells/baskets for their bikes.
Finally we made it to the boring stuff on the back wall. I took out my phone to double check the note I’d made on the side tube I needed. As I tried to recall whether I needed a presta or schrader valve and wonder why I didn’t write that down, too, Lyra yelled, “Potty!”
So up the stairs we went after all, because her voice was anxious, but apparently matters weren’t so urgent that she couldn’t stop to admire the display of kites before heading up the stairs. Or swing from the rails on the way up. Or hop like a frog from the top of the staircase to the restrooms.
Inside the restrooms she considered each stall before picking one. She washed her hands twice afterwards because impressed by the automatic soap dispenser, and made me read her the sign on the trash can about composting the paper towels. As we opened the door to leave the restrooms, Adriana realized that she needed to go too. At least she only washed her hands once.
Lyra walked slowly down the stairs, counting them as she went. When she and I reached the bottom, Adriana was in the toy aisle just beyond the kite display that had distracted her sister on the way up. They each asked for about three things as I attempted to usher them along. Then Adriana picked up a kid’s headlamp, asked how much birthday and New Year money she had left. She’d been coveting one “for so, so long,” i.e., since last week when she played with one at Lyra’s friend’s house, and was pleased to learn that she had the ten dollars she required to purchase one of her own.
We were almost out of the toy aisle when Lyra noticed the Audubon toy birds, the ones that play a little bird call when squeezed. She listened to all of them, then decided to get the emperor penguin chick (which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows her) with her own remaining birthday money.
They were quiet, examining their new toys, while I checked with the guy working in the bike section to make sure I was really getting the right kind of tubes for my bike. I grabbed four because maybe then I would never ever have to come back into the store with these two monkeys.
We went to the front of the store to pay. The kids both insisted on having their own purchases rung up separately so they could pay all by themselves. Lyra was too busy squeezing her penguin to make it chirp and jabbering back at it in her bizarre version of Spanish to remember to fight with Adriana over pushing the button to open the door, but they both still needed to climb around on the rocks out front, and then balance on the curbs on the way back to the car. I got them both buckled in, started the car and looked at the clock.
Forty-four minutes had passed since I’d turned off the car. Good thing it was just a quick stop.