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The Ecstasy and the Agony

It was the best of times, it was the worst
of times.

All within the span of five minutes.

Yesterday was a packed day for Maddie and Cora: the first summer
swim lesson EARLY in the morning; several hours at several
different stores, including a mall, running errands with Mommy; a
truncated nap so we could have an afternoon play date at a
sprinkler park; and a picnic dinner in the park with friends for a
free outdoor concert.

Halfway through the day I began waffling on the evening concert;
both girls were looking tired, I was exhausted, and I feared a
colossal meltdown if we were out doing stimulating things at a
relatively late hour. But the girls perked up considerably and were
well-behaved for the afternoon play date, so I decided to push my
luck and hit the concert.

The concert itself, of course, went well.
Maddie and Cora were ecstatic at the idea of eating dinner OUTSIDE
with their FRIEND ELISE, with plenty of GREEN GRASS to dance around
on during the concert. We ran into several unexpected friends
before the concert started, which added to the charming small-town
experience as the sun set on the grassy slope. Children ran
laughingly everywhere, and as the music began all the girls rose
and rushed the “pit” and began dancing down front.

Now in the interest of full disclosure – and to paint you an
accurate picture – we went to see a Heart tribute band play.
Beggars for free concerts can’t be choosers, and my girls
absolutely loved the experience. They rolled down hills. They
danced all over, bopping to “Wild Child” and skipping
in a circle to “These Dreams”.

And then came intermission.

As the band announced their last song before intermission, I
realized it was already bedtime. A quick conference with
Elise’s parents, and we announced that we’d be heading
home after the next song. And as the band kicked into “Magic
Man”, the tears they began a-raining.

As if in some wry, existential French music video, we had three
girls belly-flopped on the blanket, sobbing and red-eyed, while
“Magic Man” played in the background. “Come on
home girl, he said with a smile,” they sang, while Maddie,
Elise, and Cora cried as if their collective heart (get it? Heart?)
would break. After being warned that this was their last chance of
the evening to dance, the girls trudged forlornly down to the front
to give it a half-hearted (get it? HEARTed?) try. “Too soon
to lose my baby yet, my girl should be at home” the singer
wailed as Maddie, Elise, and Cora raised wan arms in the air and
twirled dejectedly.

The music ended – as all tribute band sets must – and
we packed up to go. We walked our way to the back of the hill and
began the death march to the car, three girls still screaming as
they walked like a row of distraught baby ducks hypnotized into
following some crazed Wile E. Coyote to their deaths. Or at least
their bedtimes.

We went easy on the girls: for one thing, in spite of all the
tears, no one had to be carried out of the park. Ok, Cora did for
the last bit, but she’s barely three years old. For the most
part, obedience won over heartrending loss. And for another thing,
it was our own faults for keeping them up so late. I knew going
into it that we’d had a long day and both girls were tired,
so the fact that the tears hadn’t begun until going-home time
was almost a surprise. School is out for them, and the days are
looser and I want to go with the flow and take advantage of fun
outings like this one. So I won’t give up on these evening
outings just yet.

I will, however, continue to brainstorm better extraction


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