Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Holiday Road, part I

OK, here goes.

A few weeks ago Chuck and I threw the three boys into the car and drove down to Florida. We'd been thinking about going but couldn't commit to a set date because Chuck had a kidney stone he needed to pass. On Thursday morning I sent my mother a text (she and my step-father wanted to follow us down): "Chuck gave birth to a 4 mm stone! Trip's on!"

Bam! 21 hours? No problem.

The first day we drove 10 hours, stopping at 1 a.m. to check into a fleabag motel off the side of the highway. We moved rooms twice: once because the smoke alarm wouldn't stop beeping and again because an alarm clock wouldn't stop alarming. Finally, at 2 a.m., everyone was settled.

Due to lack of sleep and sore ass from the road, everyone was in a shit mood the next day but we made it to Savannah. Ah...Savannah. Lovely. Gorgeous. Complete with a walkable square full of stores, ice cream shops, horse-drawn carriage rides and live music. I slugged three drinks and chased Cam around the square while the older boys danced and laughed.



It was perfection (no really, it was perfect)--until the lack of sleep hit Cam like a thunderbolt.

I put him in the stroller and offered him ice cream but he knocked it out of my hand and onto a passerby's foot (an understanding passerby, thankfully). Then Cam kicked and wailed. People stared. He thrashed and yelled. People gawked. It's been awhile since one of the kids has had a full-on public meltdown. It sucks. I admit it: I panicked. I raced off down the street with him.

Humidity + stress + vodka  + Chuck yelling "That's the wrong street! You're going the wrong way!" as I sprinted off into the sunset = Junior waking up, sniffing the air and asking, incredulously, "Mom is that you that stinks?"

The next day we arrived at our hotel in Orlando--freshly showered. We had booked at the last minute at Floridays Resort, choosing it based on its pool, which appeared to cater to older kids and toddlers (read: I was not going to chase Cam around a deep-end-only pool for a week) and because it wouldn't break the bank.



I can't recommend it enough, despite the shitty, bouncy bed Chuck and I ended up on. (Side note: When you share a family suite with your kids and parents on vacation, the only reason your bed bounces is because of shoddy springs. Sorry Chuck!)

We hadn't booked tickets at any of the theme parks because we had family in the area, and that's mainly why we went to Florida, but we did want to attempt a park. Even though it was 95 degrees with 100% humidity. Even though we didn't have the stupid effing Fast Pass everyone said we MUST have. Even though we had a toddler...we spent the $20,000 and bought six tickets to Universal (hooray, Cam was free), mainly because Junior and Everett wanted to see the Harry Potter exhibit.



So there we were. Two 80-year-old grandparents. Two forty-something parents. A 10 year old. A six year old. A two year old.

Dun, dun, dun. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Mullet's Holiday Road

We did it. We upped and drove to Florida with our three kids. That's where I've been all this time--we got back last night after finishing a marathon stretch from North Carolina to Connecticut. I want to tell you all about it but right now my brain is foggy and gluey and hurts when I try to form complete sentences. I also have two weeks worth of granola bars, Fig Newtons (fiber!) and grapes (have you tried Cotton Candy grapes?) to exhume from my toddler's car seat.

Two words: Gross. Gross.

More later. I promise.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tackling the tantrums one drink at a time

I'm fried. There's no other way to put it. If you have children, they kick your ass; not because they're horrible but because they are little people with needs, wants and endless energy and because you are old, tired and don't feel like it.

Ok fine, I'm old.

This is Junior and Everett's last week of school. Last year at this time I was a wreck, unsure of how I would balance work while keeping three kids happy enough. I say enough because I don't think it's my job as a parent to lead a non-stop happy parade. I believe boredom is good. But hey, it's summer, there have to be some popsicles and pool time.

This year I'm not such a wreck. Cam is almost two and a half, so it should be easier to travel, unless it's during nap time, in which case it will still be hellacious. I have a new, not pregnant babysitter. Chuck has three weeks off instead of five days. There are no more lunches to pack at 6:45 a.m., no more homework, spelling tests or nightly reading quotas.

And honestly, I'm thrilled to get a break from the kids' schools. The schools in Mulletville Lite expect a daunting amount of parental involvement. A steady stream of flyers came home announcing fundraisers, rallies, poetry readings, fun days, spirit days, crazy hat days, balloon twisting days and of course, everyone wants the parents to participate, but what the hell, all the events were held at 1:30 in the afternoon. Don't forget to bring a baked good!

If you didn't see the flyer announcing the event, no worries, there were 10,000,000 other ways the school communicated with you: there was Facebook (separate accounts for each school); the PTO's Facebook page (separate accounts for each school); Twitter (again, separate accounts); Twitter for separate school departments, such as the library; a weekly digital newsletter; the school system's website; emails from the teachers; a weekly printed newsletter from the teachers; and of course, good old fashioned letters sent home via the school's mascot, an old horse named One-eyed Hank.

(Ha! Just checking to see if you're still with me.)

It felt like a full-time job, and I wasn't even on the PTO. (How do they do it?)

I asked my mother if she had felt this way when I was in school. She snorted and said, "If they couldn't reach you on the phone the only other choice they had was to mail you a letter, so no."

That sounds delightful and a lot more reasonable. Somewhere along the way, from my childhood to my children's, more of EVERYTHING became preferable. But it just doesn't feel good. So that's where I'm at right now, with summer around the corner. Less is more. Less screen time. More staring at the sky time. Less involvement. More meandering. Fewer toys. More homemade creations.

Fewer tantrums would be nice, but we're not there yet. I guess the good news is that once school is out, the tantrums can take place in the comfort of our home instead of say, in an auditorium. The even better news is that I can oversee said tantrum with the aid of a cool beverage.

Frick. It always comes back to the tantrums and the vodka, doesn't it?

I'm okay with that. I have to be. For now.

In defense of adoration—even in the deli line

The toddler was all over his mother. Cam and I were in line at the deli at Mulletville Lite's town grocery store, watching the lov...