"Sethie," I comforted, feeling terrible for forgetting my promise, "I'll paint a rainbow on your face tomorrow." And I did. The face painting was so exciting, I decided to take the kids to the upcoming Collegedale Church fall festival, with face painting, hayrides, pumpkin painting, bonfires, and (vegetarian) hot dogs. "On Sabbath night," I promised, "We'll get your faces painted and eat hot dogs."
All week long I heard about face paint and "hot gogs." So despite the unhappy events of the last couple of days, I decided I should keep my promise. So I gathered jackets, hats, Sippies, diapers, clothies and all other things I thought we could need, kissed Alan goodbye and set off, assuring him we'd be fine and he could have some quiet time.
Once there, I found the face painting quickly. Perfect! But just as the kids picked out the designs they wanted on their faces, face painting closed for vespers and supper. Oh well. Anaya joined in the children's charades of Bible stories while I corralled the boys. I even got a few cute pictures.
At suppertime, I dashed over and filled four plates with hot dogs and chips (good thing we stuffed them with bananas before they left the house!). Some lady got mad at me for inadvertently stealing her daughter's plate with a hot dog bun on it (sorry, it was right on the table with all four of my plates! I gave her one just like it!), but otherwise all went smoothly.
Face painting was supposed to be next--then we could go home and get everyone to bed. After supper, Skyler looked like he'd already had his face painted anyway, by drunken chimps with brushes dipped in Cheetos and ketchup. But he wasn't getting his face painted anyway, so who cared?
OK, face painting. I directed Anaya toward the face-painting table and started steering the boys that way too. "I wan' chips! I wan' juice!" went up the wails. I swiped at the boys' chins and hands with wipes. Oops, their hands were already cold. I dodged through the people to the stroller full of jackets and pulled them on little arms, trying to ignore the food dripping onto them.
"I wan' juice!" whined Seth. I half-filled a cup with cider and gave it to him. Now, where was Anaya?
Apparently Anaya hadn't gotten into line too quickly, because there was a good 45-minute wait ahead of her at the face painting table. I positioned Seth two children behind her in line, then started doing the math on this. The way they were going, it was now 7:00 and it was going to be a good half an hour before Anaya's turn. Sigh...I had wanted to get them in bed by 7:30.
"Chips!" Skyler bawled. I left Seth with Anaya with strict instructions to hold her hand until I returned, and headed for the chip table. Hey, there was a guy twisting long balloons into shapes! (Why am I glutton for punishment?) I returned to Anaya and Seth and found them engrossed in watching face painting. "If you will stay here," I said, "I'll try to get you balloons."
"Bawoons!" went up the round of cheers.
No luck. The line at the balloon table was even longer than the face painting one, and I didn't dare leave the older kids alone for that long. I swiped three empty balloons (hey, they were free) and brought them back. "Here, these are your balloons."
These balloons had no intention of being blown up by anyone with real lungs. An iron lung was what they required. I worked for fifteen minutes, blowing, squeezing and trying to get air into Skyler's, all without lasting progress. By then he was wailing. "Bawoon! I wan' bawoon!"
"No screaming," I admonished. When he didn't let up, I again instructed Seth to hold Anaya's hand, and I led Skyler over to a nearby chair for time out. "Sit."
From my vantage point I could see Anaya inching forward in line. It was 7:45 now, and Skyler was making everyone around us wish we would go home. Finally, he calmed down and asked politely if he could get down. We returned just as Anaya hopped into the chair. Camera time! I began searching my pockets.
I raced back to where we had been sitting, since I was pretty sure I had left it on the coat beside me on the bench. No camera. Under the bench and in the stroller...nothing.
I headed back to Anaya. She was doing fine, but Seth and Skyler had evaporated. I squinted into the darkness and found Skyler wandering reluctantly in front of a woman who was shooing him toward more lighted areas. "Thank you!" I gushed, swooping him up. A telltale wail from another direction helped me find Seth, apple cider all over the front of him. I grabbed another wipe and scrubbed his jacket, promising him more juice later, then retrieved Skyler from where he was gleaning chips off the grass.
On the way back to Anaya I spotted Giselle, who had been sitting with me. "Have you seen my camera?"
"Oh, yes! My friend has it in her diaper bag." Whew!
"Where is she?"
"I don't know. But the diaper bag is right there by the bench."
I now spotted Seth doing a little telltale dance. "Sethie, do you need to go potty?" I asked. He nodded anxiously.
"Okay." I looked around in desperation. Who knows where the potty is here? And where's Skyler? I glanced at Anaya and saw her face was now halfway painted--camera, that's what I wanted. A picture of her getting her face painted. "Sethie, wait. Can you wait?"
"Okay. Never mind." I led him over toward the face painting table and saw that Anaya was, indeed, nearly done. I left the boys near her and made a dash for the rogue diaper bag. I started rummaging through it, hoping for goodness' sake this was actually the right one. I could just imagine... "Oh, you mean this is YOUR diaper bag? So sorry! I was looking for a camera--I mean, my camera--yes, of course, in your diaper bag. No, I thought it was my friend's friend's diaper bag. I mean...Oh, no, really, my husband is a theology professor..." Well, I found no camera, but another friend came up to me asking if they could borrow a diaper. With a giggle I assured them they could, but hastened to add that the diaper bag I was searching was not, in fact, mine. I ran to my own and returned with a diaper. Someone stopped me to ask about Alan's dad, and I gasped something about, could he walk with me back to where my kids were? I dodged back through the crowd and found...no boys, of course. This time they had gone in two new directions, and were being led back howling by new strangers. As I scooped up Skyler, I caught a whiff that suggested that I had really needed that last diaper.
At this point I spotted Giselle's friend, owner of said diaper bag. "Hi! Do you know where my camera is? I can't find it in your diaper bag..."
"Oh, sorry! It's in the side pocket."
"Thanks!" I threw over my shoulder, running toward the face painting with boys in tow. Anaya was just about to hop off the chair. I raced to get Seth back in line behind her, but I was too late. Another little girl was just settling in as I arrived. Seth, seeing his opportunity fading, began to wail.
I fought the urge to wail myself. "Sethie, I can't wait another half an hour. I'll paint your face at home." But he was inconsolable, so the others, seeing my predicament, were very gracious. The little girl voluntarily jumped off the chair, and I slid Seth onto it. "Nooo!" he screeched. "I don't wan' face pai't!"
I dropped down on my knees in front of him. "Seth, don't do this to me. Do you want your face painted, or not? I can't bring you back if you don't cooperate now."
He kicked and howled. "Nooo! No face pai't!"
"Fine." I scooped him off the chair, gushed thanks at everyone within hearing distance, and stalked toward the stroller, arms full of children. Anaya was busy sashaying before the mirror with her beautiful painted face, and Seth caught sight of her. "I wan' face pai't!"
"Too bad, Buddy. I tried." I strapped him and Skyler in. "I'll paint your face tomorrow."
Ignoring his wails, I raced back through the crowd, squinting into the darkness, looking for the owner of the diaper bag. Finally I found her, carrying my camera in her hand. "Here it is! Sorry, my husband had it in his pocket. He thought it was ours."
I thanked her profusely and headed for the car amid cries of, "I wan' face pai't!"