Marcus and Becca and I ate lunch at Panera Bakery while William and Maryanne did their thing at Borders. Maryanne and I bought coffee to drink once we got back to the house; it was grey and overcast outside, with a slight drizzle, so the hot coffee would be welcome after our short walk back to the house. I zipped and Velcro-ed and snapped the children into their raincoats, donned my own, and started herding them towards the door.
The first sign of trouble struck on the sidewalk of the stripmall complex--it began to rain in earnest. The children were well-protected in their rain gear, though, so we sorted out umbrellas and umbrella partners and kept walking. So far, so good.
Our situation worsened when Becca fell smack on her bum in the parking lot, which instantly drenched her from the waist down and added on an extra few pounds of water weight as her extra-absorbent diaper, well, absorbed. She was now cold and wet, so naturally, she began to wail. "I am wet! I am wet!", she sobbed over and over into my shoulder as we crossed the remainder of the parking lot.
I think it was at this point that my coffee cup dissolved in Maryanne's hand. I told her to just drop it--I wasn't sure how much of it was still coffee, as it had been sloshed and spilled and rained on during our trip through the parking lot, and there was a good chance she'd burn herself if she tried to hang onto the cup. Once the hot coffee had emptied onto the grassy median, she picked up the now-empty coffee cup. It fluttered in the brisk wind, a steaming flag of surrender. We should have just given up then, but the situation with Becca's wet pants made turning back less inviting than just carrying on and getting her into dry clothes.
We sloshed and slogged through puddles and pools as the rain grew heavier. It began to thunder; lightning streaks crossed the sky. Becca's wailing continued, "I am cold! I am wet! I want to go back! I want to go home!". We turned the corner, into heavier wind and a torrential downpour. She alternated between being carried and being dragged along, screaming the entire time.
We passed the entryway of a china shop; we were too wet to go inside to wait out the worst of the storm. Marcus and William, who had been making quiet, efficient progress, stopped ahead of us. Marcus's pants, made heavier at the cuffs by the rain, were around his ankles. The weight of the water had dragged them off his waist, and they were pooled around his feet under his knee-length raincoat. Under the cover of two umbrellas, with Becca's uninterrupted litany of "I am cold! I am wet!" in the background, I pulled them back up around his waist.
Two blocks later, they again graced his ankles. William gave him a quick lesson in grabbing his belt-loops, and we trudged on. The downpour didn't stop; it would occasionally lighten, but the puddles were deep and we were all soaked.
The final turn onto Mom's street was almost a relief--I couldn't have cared less how much wetter I got, just so that I could finally get under a roof and peel off my clothes. Everyone was soaked and exhausted. Our jeans were stiff and plastered onto our legs with rain and mud. Our heads were soaked--between the wind, the rain, and the children needing constant adjustments, every bit of exposed skin was wet and chilled. We poured into the mudroom and began the long process of peeling off every bit of wet clothing. It took forever, especially since the children were beyond disgruntled.
An hour later, the children had been bathed and dressed in borrowed t-shirts and were watching Wallace and Gromit and playing quietly. William, Maryanne, and I were sacked out on the couch recovering.