Shoes tied. Sunglasses located. Children occupied. Hand on doorknob. O-kay! I'm outta here!
"Can I come with you?"
Stopped in my tracks by the small voice of 3-year-old Page.
"Not this time, sweetie."
"I have to go for my walk for some exercise. And you're already wearing your pajamas!"
"I can walk fast."
"Don't you want to play with Brownie?"
"No. I only want to be with you."
I've been looking forward to this walk all day, my sacrosanct hour to burn off some insanity and some calories, and to stretch out my back before hunching over books and bunk beds at tuck-in time.
Then I notice that Page is wearing sneakers with her pj's. And they're on the correct feet.
No! No falling for the heartrending detail! Mustn't give in!
"Look, I'll be back soon and then we can walk together a little bit," I try.
"I want to go with you now. I said 'please,'" she points out.
"Yes, that was very polite. But I have to go and walk really fast before it gets dark."
"That's what you said yesterday."
Got me! Score, Page!
Margaret, who's 5, hears all this and understands I've succumbed. Before I know it, she's Velcroing up her shoes, too. At least they didn't suggest we also bring the dog. The last time Brownie went on a walk, he stopped a half mile from the house, planted his skinny brown dachshund behind in the street, and had to be carried the rest of the way.
So off we go -- me, Margaret and her lovey, Love Toy, Page and her lovey, Ratty, and a couple of blankies.
From Momfidence! An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting, by Paula Spencer. Copyright 2006, by Paula Spencer. Published by Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc.