While we visited my parents, my mother decided to take her grandchildren to ride the big carousel at the mall. This required picking up my sister's oldest son at daycare, taking Helen and hauling strollers for 3 babies (2 of mine, plus my sister's youngest one). Helen was beyond excited to see her cousin M. I figured they would be all about riding the carousel, while Alice would be clinging for dear life and crying the whole time.

We decided to do this event on a day that Neena already would be at the daycare to celebrate Mother's Day with a special lunch. It would mean no nap for my girls, which can be an issue for Alice, but Helen would be fine. I crossed my fingers that they would sleep in the car on the way to the mall and that would be enough.

No such luck. The car nap never materialized, but Alice seemed to be in good spirits. And it turned out Alice liked the carousel best of all. She rode it like a champ with her Neena holding on tight to her the whole time. Helen & M. rode their chosen animals and had a blast. I stayed with the 2 strollers and snapped pictures.

We had some extra tokens, so we went a second time. This was our mistake. That's when I learned why my other nephew, slightly older than Alice, got to stay at daycare that day. Apparently that age group is somewhat fixated on doing whatever the heck they want, repeatedly, which I already knew. But when a carousel is involved, they lose all sense of reason.

After ride #2, Neena took one of the infants to the restroom to change a very stinky diaper, while I watched 4 kids by myself in the food court. Alice decided she was going to make a break for it and head to the carousel. Um, I don't think so, kid. I tried distracting her and showing her stuff at the kiosk next to our table and singing songs but it just wasn't working. So I held her while trying to stay close to an infant sound asleep in the stroller, while two 5-year olds sat at the table and giggled. Alice screamed and screamed and then screamed some more. Other mall patrons tried not to stare at me. Neena came back and instead of checking out some of the kid-related stores in the mall as we had previously planned, we headed for the exit.

And that's when Alice lost her tiny mind. She pulled my hair, she hit me on the face, and she tried to squirm away. Rather than putting her down and letting her run free and hoping maybe she'd make it back to the house on her own one day, I carried her out of the mall like a football under one arm. I didn't make eye contact with anyone as we walked, but my mother said that several people smiled at us. I'm sure you've all smiled that way at parents trapped in that moment, in public with a toddler who wants absolutely nothing to do with you - and I know it's a smug sense of pleasure that you're not the one carrying a screaming kid. Mom says she was proud of me for not giving in, but all I could picture was the video from the security cameras posted on YouTube. Heck, that fear probably saves a lot of kids' rear ends these days. So I kept moving to the door. That was a very long walk, with the screaming and the squirming, and every time I tried to turn her back upright she grabbed a fistful of hair. So back down she went.

Finally we got to the car. I buckled her in the car seat, expending 2500 calories in the process. And on the way out of the garage, she finally stopped sobbing. Shortly after that, she fell fast asleep. When we got home, I put her down for a true nap and she awoke a brand-new kid.

I, on the other hand, am a more experienced mother who now knows better than to let her near that carousel for the next 3 years. My sister apparently learned this lesson the hard way, too. This kind of wisdom comes at a steep price, folks, and I'm giving it to you all at a good discount: the football hold is definitely the way to go.

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