A few nights ago as I began to drift to sleep, my husband sat up in bed and turned to me. “Do we have a meeting place?” he asked. “You know, like if there’s an apocalypse.”
While I made a mental note to cancel the alien show from our DVR, I began to wonder what an apocalypse would really look like for our family — mostly, what my chances of survival would be should I ever have to traverse a post-apocalyptic terrain on foot with three small children.
Could I bring the double stroller? Would there be diapers? What if my two-year-old started doing that thing where she throws herself on the floor and screams for 15 minutes and an alien/zombie/violent looter was nearby? So many questions…
Are there still Cheerios in the apocalypse? Here’s the thing: one of my kids is allergic to almost everything edible, one is a baby with four teeth, and the other will not touch any kind of meat with a 3-foot foam sword. My children have proven they would rather eat dryer lint than a steak dinner, so if we have to start hunting bunnies that aren’t made of cheddar, we’ll be moving into hangry-mode before you can say, “You don’t have to eat ALL the squirrel! Just try one bite!” We’ll have to at least get some kind of sharp cutting implement — for protection, for hunting, and for halving grapes. I feel confident no one will want to eat my children if times get tough, since they probably taste like plain noodles and obstinacy, but we’ll have to figure out how to smuggle crackers or something because the attitudes that flare when they haven’t eaten in more than two hours? WATCH. OUT. My son could catch an entire plague of locusts on his outstretched bottom lip.
How will we carry all our stuff? The meeting place suggested by my husband is about three miles from our house and in the middle of the woods. With the baby in a carrier on my chest and an overstuffed diaper bag slung around my shoulder, I’ll have to bank on the adrenaline rush triggered by the fear of face-eating zombies to rally through the pain of my collarbone caving under the weight. If my four-year-old is walking, he’ll make it ten minutes before his pockets are weighted down by all the rocks and garbage — I mean, treasure — he picks up along the way, at which point he’ll sit down in the grass and stare at the sky until Jesus waves to him from a cloud (or until we bribe him with cookies). If my two-year-old is on foot, she will run for as long as I can convince her she’s an airplane and then cry until I “hold her like a baby” the rest of the way. We’ll also have to bring the stuffed monkey, so many cuppies of water, and approximately 7,000 diapers. I can at least count on not having to carry wipes because I swear I forget the freaking wipes every time.
Where will we go? The meeting place is presumably only the first step along our road to survival — the place we meet my husband. On a standard day, I’d have already made several frantic calls to his office to say the sky is falling and he should hurry home, so if it really happens I’ll have to up my ante so he knows I’m serious. By the time he arrives, then takes his usual sweet time peeing and changing out of his work clothes, I’ll have had time to finalize a plan. My first instinct would be to get out of the suburbs, ’cause you know the entire city is heading this way to fill their packs with our bottled fizzy water and to convert our Pottery Barn cribs into makeshift guerilla zombie blinds. We can’t go to the country because most of them have been mastering their shotgun aim since they were knee-high to an alien predator. Can’t go too far south because every time we go to a Mexican restaurant, my kids accidentally offend 8 percent of the world’s population by saying “Olaf!” as a greeting. The answer? Head for the nearest Target. We always blend in there.
How will we stay alive? My husband is a brilliant man, but his idea of “working with his hands” is mastering three monitors with a single keyboard, so he’d probably be the first to die. My kids and I would be useless in building a shack without popsicles. Moreover, if there is any type of killer virus floating around, we’d be among the first to start oozing eyeball blood — we catch EVERYTHING. My kids are afraid of strangers, spraying water, and that cat in Cinderella, so if someone (or something) attacked us, our best chance would be to play dead. Then again, asking my children to lay down and be quiet is like asking the four horsemen of the apocalypse to live-Tweet their ride into town, so perhaps we’ll just hope for a divinely-inspired early exit — like in that Kirk Cameron rapture movie where some people get to ditch their clothes and skip straight to heaven. Am I the only one who’s seen that?
“So in the event of an apocalypse, we don’t even really need a plan,” I sighed to my husband, my head falling back on the pillow. “Our family might as well bend over and kiss our needy, suburban asses goodbye.”
We turned off the lights, but my mind wouldn’t quiet. Who are we, after all? We already live off everyone else’s discarded food scraps, function on minimal sleep, and never shy from getting our hands dirty. I carry basic living essentials like hand sanitizer, scissors, and Barbie Band-Aids in my bag every day. Plus, just ask my baby-toting biceps how strong I’ve gotten these past few years.
We’ve survived colic, for crying out loud!
The light flicked back on as I shot up in bed, pointed a determined finger at my husband, and kissed him square on his needy, suburban mouth. “See you in the woods!”