Three years, for three years I’ve been stumbling my way through this parenting gig. You would think that by now I would know enough to check my facts before making promises to my girls. We spent an intense 24 hours near Lake Placid doing grown-up stuff for Daddy’s work. The plan was that we would return home Saturday and rest. Then Sunday we were going to Saratoga for maternity clothes for my ever-expanding middle and horse rides on the carousel for the girls.

There is a sweet carousel in Congress Park in Saratoga, alongside of which there are ponds with ducks, statues and beautiful gardens. We figured even if the grounds were covered in snow and ice, the expanse of lush park viewed atop a shining, fairy tale steed would be a delight. Our hopes were momentarily dashed when we came down the hill to see a very dark carousel in an empty park. No worries, we’d go to the carousel at the mall where I was going to hit up H&M’s awesome maternity line.

We drove to the mall, assuring the girls that the horses there would not be sleeping.

~~~You know exactly where this is going, don’t you? Why then, were we like the teenagers in the slasher movies, oblivious and trusting?

We pulled into the mall and the girls were nearly biting their way out of their car seats to get to the horses. Crossing the parking lot, we passed a gentleman that appeared to be having a scholarly discussion with a man in a passing car, something about the merits of driving at lower rates of speed. Despite the exposure to exceptionally colorful vocabulary and unofficial American sign language, we felt pretty incredible to be making good on our promise and taking the girls for a child-centric activity.

We passed through the requisite plumes of second-hand smoke just outside the mall doors and walked into a billowy mixture of movie theatre popcorn and perfume.

“Here we go!” Sean and I bleeted as we swang the girls.

“Horsies. HORSIES!” They squealed in unison.

I swear I gasped and time stopped as we entered the food court and saw an enormous empty space where once had sat a garishly embellished carousel. We looked at one another and stopped short of rubbing our eyes to see if perhaps they were playing tricks on us.

“Are we going tot he horsies now?” Briar asked, blue eyes wide and trusting.

“Uh-horses. Uh-horses, now. Yay, Dank yoo, dank yoo mommy-daddy,” a song of thanks from Avery.

Once again, we looked at each other helplessly. Clutching a fistful of singles we walked over to a cluster of amusement park rejects and tried to paint a picture of Disneyworld come-to-life. I am always able to find a silver lining and turn a bust into a blast, but even I found the rides lackluster and the atmosphere anything but magical.

Our shoulders slumped and spirits broken, we perched helplessly on the periphery of the odd, amusement parklette. As they are wont to do, the girls demonstrated an uncanny and humbling ability to derive satisfaction*, delight even, under less than adequate circumstances. So while the absence of horses and subsequent non-existence of ANY maternity clothes at the mall, we made our way home feeling as if somehow we had actually succeeded.

*Wondering now if perhaps their synchronized waking and refusal to sleep from 2-7am this morning might in fact have been payback for defaulting on the equine promise…