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Despite the wind

I love to surprise the kids with fun adventures.

Life throws plenty of bad curveballs. Why not make sure some good gets pitched their way?

Several days ago, I decided to surprise them with a walk to a nearby Sonic. We’d eat a very leisurely lunch and then stroll home. The round-trip would total almost 3 miles.

Around 11:00 am, I told them to sock-up and shoe-up, it was time to go on a walk! This was not a surprise. We go on walks almost daily. Aidan prepared the water bottles without asking. We gathered hats, made sure laces were tight and the bathroom was visited. I grabbed my phone, sunglasses, inhaler, and camera. I knew where we were going. They did not.

And then, slowly, one by one, the lightbulbs flickered on. Then it became a game. The kids started saying, “I know where we’re going!” but none would actually say Sonic. They smiled at each other. They walked faster. Beatrix was offered piggy back rides from Aidan and Ryley because she was poking along near the back of the pack. As Sonic came into view, they started telling me what they wanted to order—shakes and tots and popcorn chicken and chili dogs and corn dogs and mozzarella sticks and bubblegum slushies and root beer floats—a breathless roll call of the deeply deep-fried menu. I reminded them we had to walk home. Wouldn’t it be a painful walk if their tummies were on the verge of exploding?

Sonic is mostly known for having rollerskating carhops who serve food through the windows of parked cars, but they have a small outdoor dining area for walkers/bikers or those who don’t want to eat in their cars. We wound our way to the covered awning and claimed 2 tables. I told the kids to line up at the menu board so they could order through the speaker. Then I’d swipe my Visa and before we’d know it, Tot Time. Only.

I forgot my wallet.

I told the kids. They laughed until they remembered no money = no food. It took us 30+ minutes to walk to Sonic. It was hot, it was incredibly windy, Beatrix was tired, everyone was hungry. There was no way I wanted to turn around and walk home, then walk back? My big surprise turned out to be a big surprise—for me. I can’t believe I pulled a fast one on myself.

Thankfully, I remembered to bring my phone. I called my husband, who was hard at work earning money for ill-fated walks to fast food restaurants. My husband has a good soul, a merciful heart, and a job flexible enough that he could leave to help his wife redeem the day and feed the hungry bunch. He said he could get my bag, but it would be a few minutes.

I hung up and told the kids help was on the way, but we needed to be patient. A carhop asked if we needed anything. I explained we had just walked over a mile to eat lunch, but I forgot my wallet. He thought that was a bummer and offered us cups of water while we waited. I declined. We brought our own.

The happy mood was quickly souring. Archie was becoming very impatient. He was buckled in the stroller and wanted out. I knew he’d want to explore the cars lined up for the lunch rush. He began to shriek. Teddy was hungry and bothered by the wind. He cried. Beatrix was in a feisty mood and kept accusing the other kids of taking her seat. The older kids wanted to order grandiose things from the menu. Giant burgers, huge shakes. I wanted to keep cost as minimal as possible and for some reason, they weren’t understanding what the word no meant.

Finally, I had it: “We are never doing this again!” I hissed, completely deflated by how quickly my plans unravelled into chaos, crying, and frustration.

I had no wallet, but I brought my temper.

I tried to text my husband to not just bring my bag. Bring THE WHOLE VAN. It was too late. He pulled into the parking lot. Everyone was glad to see him, even though my bag didn’t match his shoes. We were rescued.

He couldn’t stay to eat with us, which made everyone sad again. Who knew the Sonic patio would be the setting for so much drama? It was downright Shakespearean on their slab of concrete.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched this Sonic, drowned the tots!
You sulphurous and thought-executing deep fryers,
Vaunt-couriers to mozzarella cheese-melting,
Singe my inner cheek! And thou, all-shaking shakes,
Strike numb the caverns if my brain! Freeze!
Crack sesame buns, all crushed ice spill at once
That make ingrateful man!”

I won’t spend the next 10 minutes describing how I pushed the order button again and again and again, waiting for an answer, only to be told by a passing carhop that the side we chose was broken. Or how two young men wearing neon green road crew vests and hardhats stood in front of the other speaker discussing what to get for 5 minutes and when I asked if we could go ahead and order because we knew what we wanted, was told, “No.”

Finally, we ordered. Our food came. They forgot my drink and Bea’s drink. Turns out Teddy likes fries. As I ate my burger with one hand and tried to prevent all paper items from blowing away with the other, my mood improved. Everyone’s moods improved. I tried to slow the pace of the gobbling, but the kids were really hungry.

An hour after we arrived, we pointed the stroller to the west and walked toward home. And then I veered off the beaten path. We’d still get home. It would take longer. But.

In the end, it would be worth it. The walk home was better than the walk to Sonic. The kids ran on paths cut through tall grass growing lakeside. A family of ducks battled the strong breeze. They were like a fuzzy armada, blown to shore not by their might but by God’s. I hope their invasion went well.

I pushed the stroller on the wider trail. Archie filled the cup holder with leftover root beer. Teddy snoozed, despite the wind.

13 comments to Despite the wind

  • Booooo to those hard hat guys! What jerks they were!

    We recently did almost the same thing. Kayley and I hit Sonic, placed our orders, and then I realized I didn’t have my purse in the vehicle. Luckily and amazingly, the kindly manager came out and told us to stop back by later with the money. I gave them a fat tip when we returned!

    Sounds like your walk home wasn’t too bad!

  • amyptucson

    I can’t fathom living in a place with beautiful woods and a gorgeous lake, but yet within walking distance of a Sonic. We can walk to our Sonic, but there’s no such scenery along the way!

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      We are totally blessed. There’s a great park with a little stream and lake just 6 houses away and across a street. Sonic is beyond that. There’s also Dairy Queen, which we plan to walk to one of these summer nights.

  • Ohhh Mother of Many… my father is always saying something cynical about good intentions… I choose to ignore him!!! I love surprises and not telling the kids and everyone just getting ready and going out the door… AND It is so awesome when it is great and a whole lot less awesome when it isn’t!!! I took the kids on an outing for a little persons birthday – they thought they were going to gym, and they love gym especially the aircon in the heat of summer… but no I decided to go to the touch farm nearby… think sweltering, think two year old totally terrified of chickens screaming in frantic fear, did I say sweltering, and think money for milkshakes and phone and keys all locked in the car, did I say sweltering… think eight miserable kids and a store owner who didn’t want to let me use their phone – grrrrrrr … think raging mother person… eventually (screaming kid + sweltering day + furious mother person) they realized it was in their best interests to get us out of there… after 45 minutes driving from the city to rescue us… the father person dropped me the spare keys and dashed… leaving all the “father person fans” destroyed… we just went home!!! Shattered birthday was rescued with microwave smores!!!

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      I can picture the situation perfectly! It’s so magnified when you have a crowd of witnesses and a crowd of your own.

      Microwave s’mores are a healing balm. 😉

  • So glad you had a happy ending to the trip! One of these days I want to walk with the girls to the general store down the road, and you’ve inspired me to do that sooner rather than later.

  • “I had no wallet, but I brought my temper.”

    I have had those days. More than I’d like.

  • edj

    Oh this made me smile! I can so relate to how grumpy these best-laid plans sometimes make us, and how much better food can make everything 🙂 Fun story!

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