phElephantsI started my morning early with the intent of getting some work done in the wee hours I get to myself, then getting the kids up and dressed to spend the afternoon at one of our favorite places, the Oregon Zoo. Dylan & Riley were eager to see their favorite – Lily, the baby Elephant. We were also meeting their BFF, who’s mom happens to be my BFF.

We got there at noon and I thought ‘eh, I don’t need a stroller” as I unbuckled the kids from their car seats. The twins were beyond excited and had their Zoo keys ready to go on their animal print lanyards, anticipating the sight of an information box in front of an exhibit and racing to see who could use their key first. It all started out well. It was a great day. Until….

As we slowly made our way toward baby Lily I noticed the kids started getting a little hungry, so we had a quick bite to eat – clementines, cheese sticks, and fruit snacks always appease the hungry bear cubs that come out mid-morning. We spotted our friends and chatted it up while walking toward the grassy area to sit, eat, and play. That was when it started happening.

The twins saw a mud puddle. And if you know preschoolers you know they can’t resist a puddle.

But this was no ordinary puddle – it was a zoo puddle. With so many animals around who knows what was in it. And it was stinky. I told the kids NO JUMPING PLEASE. Of course Dylan jumped and got his shoes, jeans and socks muddy, along with a spray of yucky mud-water everywhere. So I said “look, if either of you jump in that puddle again, WE ARE GOING HOME. I asked you not to do it”.

Now I admit, I have given my fair share of empty threats. As parents we all have. But this time? I was sticking to my guns. Dylan sat back down next to me and said “sowwy!” and silly me, I believed him. But no more than 10 seconds later he was back up and jumped right in, with Riley following his lead. I asked them to stop, they ignored me. I told them “tell your friend goodbye, we are going home” as my friend gave me the knowing look.

Because I forwent the stroller I was forced to either carry them or have them walk, and I chose the latter (for the most part). So here I was, with a really mad look on my face, two crying preschoolers pleading with me not to leave, as I drag them both out. Both wiggling away and me holding tight to their hands. As many-a-parent knows, this is the opportune time for small children to basically lose all rigidity and become limp noodles. My kids don’t kick, they melt. So what would normally take 3 minutes – getting to the car – took about 15 because I was constantly stopping while one or the other or both puddled at my feet in a fit.

Puddled. Ha!

What did I learn from this? Well, I learned to bring my stroller for one. And two – I learned that my kids realize I mean business. As we drove home we talked about why we left, the importance of listening to mommy, and consequences. I stayed calm, asked them questions to make sure they understood, and once we were finished talking kept quiet so they could think about everything that transpired. Sure, it broke my heart when my son cried “I’m sowwy mommy! Pwease let’s stay!!”, but I knew that if I said “ok, let’s stay” it would have just gotten worse. So I picked my battle, and it was a minor war. But a necessary war, because this was the first time I followed through on such a major threat.

So while I got “the look” from other zoo patrons (you know the one), I don’t feel guilty in the slightest. While others may have been thinking it was a tough parenting moment I knew it was a good mom decision.

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