Ten minutes or so passed before the guys caught back up with us, empty handed.
"Where's the jacket?" I asked.
"He'll be fine," Kurt assured me. (A few minutes later, Kurt gave his jacket to a whining Aidan.)
We were maybe a quarter around the lake at this point. On we walked, sometimes the kids would walk with me, other times with the men but pretty soon, it didn't matter where they were walking; they were all tired and complaining. I attempted to allow them to take turns sitting in front of Liam on the stroller but each time he kicked and screamed, not wanting anyone in front of him. I tried distracting them by finding big sticks for them to carry and quickly realized that was a bad idea as they were practically taking out other walkers as well as each other. I tried to get them to pretend they were ice skating with me which erred on the side of dangerous and even the men tried distracting them with the old hold-hands-and-swing-on-the-count-of-three- trick. Nothing put a permanent kibash on their exhausted whining yet on we walked, through the wilderness, complaining kids and all.
About half way around the lake the kids were begging me to turn back.
"Well, there's no point now. We are half way around," I assured them. "Just keep walking. You'll be fine."
The next mile went something like this:
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we almost there?"
"Why do we have to walk the lake?"
"Are we there YET?"
"You always make us do things we don't want to."
"You said it wasn't much longer."
"Are we EVER going to get there?"
"I CAN'T WALK ANYMORE!"
"MOM! It isn't FAIR you make us walk so much!"
"Are you trying to kill us?"
"WHY AREN'T WE THERE?"
"You told us we'd be there already! YOU LIED!"
With about a quarter of the 2.3 mile lake to go, the two men a good 30 feet or so ahead, I had Madeline balancing on the handlebars of the jogger in which Liam was now crying, Lily (wearing her two unmatched rain boots on the wrong feet) riding my back, and Aidan, having stopped about 10 feet behind, screaming at the top of his lungs:
"MOM! My crack hurts! My CRACK hurts! I can't move any longer because MY CRACK HURTS!"
And I am laughing hysterically, tears rolling down my face, because none of the other dozen walkers passing us at this point know that he is speaking of the cracks on the bottom of his feet from having had some dry skin issues and not the crack that might come to mind otherwise.
In the end, Aidan rode the front of the jogger, enduring Liam's frantic kicking, Madeline stayed on the handlebars and Lily pranced at my side. With the extra weight of Aidan up front, I couldn't turn the stroller so every time we needed to straighten out, the kids would lean one way then the other to get us on track, making the time much more roller-coaster like, and the kids much less miserable. I also used this rather peaceful time to tell them about walking the lake in the summer when we can hunt for treasure with a real (mom-made) map! (Even with the abundance of enthusiasm I mustered, their response told me it might take a little more convincing!)
About ten feet from the car I asked:
"Ok, who wants to go around again?" (hee hee hee....) Shocking, there were no takers.
Just goes to show that one person's wilderness is another person's walk in the park.
But hey, at least I know what to give up for Lent next year: walking lakes with four kids attached.