Last night, I went to the mall with Junior and my mother, Linda. I was on a mission to find spring clothes, but after two hours, I hadn’t found anything. Between the geometric shapes, horrid colors, flimsy fabric and strange cuts (maternity wear, anyone?), I decided I’d rather make my own clothes with a glue stick and sandwich baggies—blindfolded—than to buy the crap they are trying to peddle as fashion.
Who are the clothing designers dressing? Forty-five pound pregnant, color blind math enthusiasts?
By 5:30, we were hungry, so we took Junior to the Rainforest Cafe. For those of you who haven’t ever been, it’s a chain restaurant designed to look exactly like, duh, a rain forest.
Pre-Junior, a children's place like this made for excellent birth control.
Wait staff dressed in khaki safari gear meet you at the door.
As does a crocodile with a guttural growl (he's hidden in a moat that hisses steam). The restaurant itself is a conglomeration of screaming kids, thunder storms, roaring elephants, talking trees, slithering snakes, huge fish, chest-pounding gorillas and cackling birds.
It’s perfect for small children who are going through the scared-of-monsters stage. Just perfect.
We were greeted by a bubbly woman with a headset, who gave us a number and told us to wait for our server, Darnell. As Darnell walked us to our table, Junior wrapped his ankles around my side in a vice grip.
“That elephant is angry at me!” Junior cried.
Where did Darnell sit us? Right next to the elephant.
“Could we possibly sit somewhere else?” I asked nicely.
He nodded. “Safari party of three wants to move,” he said into his headset.
He walked us over to another table, this time next to the gorillas.
“Those gorillas are scary!” Junior cried.
“I’m so sorry,” Linda said. “Can we possibly sit by the fish?”
Darnell frowned. “Safari party of three wants to move. Again.”
By the time we got to the fish, the lights had flashed and the thunder had roared. Junior was crying. “I want to leave!” he screamed. “I want to go home!” Darnell nodded towards our seats. Linda and I stood there stupidly.
“I’m really, really, sorry,” I said. “I don’t think we should stay.”
Darnell sighed. “Safari party of three is leaving,” he said into his headset, then disappeared into the jungle.
We walked to a sandwich shop but Junior, being the bipolar, schizophrenic, fickle toddler that he is, starting wailing, “I want to eat at the Rainforest Cafe! I want to eat at the Rainforest Cafe!”
“But you were scared,” I said calmly.
“No I waaaaaaaaaaasn’t,” he blubbered. “I want to go back. I want to go back, Mommy.”
My mother, being the doting grandmother she is, suggested we give it one more try. We walked back to the Rainforest Cafe.
The bubbly greeter smiled brightly before saying, “Safari party of three is back” into her headset. At that point I felt like saying, “My name is Mrs. Mullet and clearly we are not on a safari.”
This time, though, was better. We sat at a table that was, for all intensive purposes, in the gift shop. Junior marveled at the animals and started coloring. He ate a big dinner. I drank a big beer. My mother didn’t hump anything. Life was good.
Or so I thought.
At 12:45 a.m. Junior woke up screaming. And when I say screaming I mean SCREAMING. Something tall and big was in his room and there was no way in hell he was going to sleep in there.
I brought him into bed with me and Chuck, but he wouldn’t sleep between us. He wanted to sleep on top of me. Again. All 35-pounds of him. It hurt my ribcage.
As soon as he’d fall asleep, I’d creep gingerly back to his room and put him into bed, but he’d wake up and start crying again.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Finally, I put him in bed and offered to sleep on his floor, which I did—holding his hand. It was 4:45 a.m. by the time I got back to bed. Fifteen minutes away from 5 a.m.
One thing is clear. The safari party of three won't be going back to the Rainforest Cafe until Junior is 21. The clothing options in 2029 better be a hell of a lot better.