So, there the four of us were this morning, cramming ourselves into our ridiculously small family car (the only thing we own now that's the same size as it was in the UK, thanks to gas prices, but is impractical for us and all the bags I seem to have to take everywhere theses days. Am fighting becoming a minivan-mom, but will obviously have to give in soon. Hmph,)
Anyway, our family days out are far from the chocolate box, Disney movie scenario of all smiles and words of joy as the lunch boxes are put in the car, the juice boxes are pierced open and the ipod loaded up ready for the off.
It always goes like this:
- Him Downstairs (HD) gets up first and is meant to have the kids dressed and breakfasted while I fight with my contact lenses and run round stuffing diaper-nappies (for Monkey), wipes, spare underwear (for Cheeky) sippy cups, Goldfish crackers, raisins and whatever else I can find in the back of the larder to keep the little ones quiet in the car.
- HD is still in his PJs and SO ARE THE KIDS! when we are meant to leave the house, despite him getting up first.
- I snap commands at him and we argue over who has picked up the Mapquest directions printout up off the computer.
- He mutters under his breath that there's no need to shout at him. (Often, he has a point. But I'm a stay-at-home mum (or mom) of a 2 and 3 yr old, so marital courtesy went out of the window when the little blue lines appeared on that white stick just over four years ago.)
- The kids get shuffled from one parent to the other whilst toothbrushes fly and I always re-dress them because daddy has put them in something ridiculous (usually each others clothes, which really annoys me as it's quite obvious one of the boys is 37lbs and the other a mere 23lbs. The little one looks like he's in a dress when he has one of his brother's shirts on!
- We are all four in the car. Me: not talking to HD. Cheeky and Monkey: throwing Cheerios at each other. HD: turning up the ipod, whilst trying to read the mapquest printout and doing a Michigan left (a crazy road maneuver special of the State we live in).
The storm: that'll be our family day out then! One excuse could be that it was 91oF and humid as hell (hooray for Michigan summers) or another could be, that we just don't DO family activities that well.
The ride on Thomas was fun. No dramas (well, a minor one over which of my sons sat where) but as the train puffed along Cheeky and Monkey were all animated smiles and our camera clicked away. "This is lovely," I thought. "We should do days out together more often".
Half and hour after we got off the train and I was fighting my way through the makeshift eating area with the double buggy (I mean, stroller) to buy over-priced hot dogs and warm juice for lunch, I told HD that, "Am leaving if we don't get served soon. The kids are driving me nuts!"
The organisers had in their wisdom, put the gift shop right next to the dining area. And apparently all the staff were in the gift shop serving the hundreds of sweaty parents pandering to their little Thomas fans every toy need. there was barely a server in the food hall. Just a veeerrry long line of grumpy parents, with their even grumpier toddlers.
How I managed to keep Cheeky and Monkey from breaking free and making a run for the Thomas stash within their view, was only accomplished by several time outs during our 43 mins wait for food.
I hate family days out. I hate other families.
Am struggling with the double buggy on my way out of the food hall (HD has helpfully disappeared to the bathroom) when a family with no buggy lets the door slam straight on my front wheels. Thanks! A helpful father behind me sees me struggling with the bus long contraption Cheeky and Monkey are strapped into and offers to get the door for me. Relief. But only for a moment because as I turn my head to thank him, the blind spot that is my front wheel bumps into another family's beloved small person and quick as a flash am accused of off-roading and crushing little Chuck's toes. "Watch it Lady!" the Mom says. (For the gazillionth time since I moved here, I remind myself that am not in some US flick, they really do say this stuff) and I (all British) say, "I'm sorry. I'm struggling here. I didn't see him" and I continue along in the mosh pit that has became the entrance/exit to the 'food.'
"Damn Australians!" I hear her say as I depart.
Yes, the day didn't get much better. So we did as all sensible Michiganders do in August, headed for the air-conditioning sanity restoring (fingers crossed) power of home.
p.s. Lovely drive home. All of us in our comfy place - Napland. All that is except for HD. He knows his place and that's behind the wheel.