Saturday, August 23, 2008

Family fun?

OK so once in a blue moon we actually make the effort and get the heck out of Motor City suburbia to go do a family activity. The kids bless them had been excited all week about the weekend visit to A Day Out With Thomas (mainly I think, because it was the only exciting thing to be happening to them in week 10, day 70, hour 1680, (not that am counting or anything) of the summer hols - sorry, summer va-kay-shon.

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).
Today, was no different to all the other family road trips we've attempted in our 3 short years we've lived in America. Usually, and today followed our family pattern,by the time we reach our destination, we're all smiling and looking forward to the fun ahead. This is because three of us have had a jolly good nap and HD has finally got the peace and quiet he craves. No family sing-songs and games of I-Spy in our automobile! Just that perfect, calm after the storm. Hmm. It's the other way around isn't it?

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.


  1. I hear you! family days out are as nightmare for us too. Keep smiling.

  2. These are certainly very revealing comments, insights into your life situation. I hear your heart... it is bleeding.

    What you need are friends to share these kinds of intimate feelings and thoughts with. I am surprised at how many people reveal themselves so openly to the world like this.

    For what it's worth, HD needs a clunk in the head... but what you will need to do is find a way to get through to him so he hears how these things impact you.

    Forgive me for offering advice unasked... Your situation sounds very challenging. But don't lose hope.

  3. My situation is challenging ennyman. But I guess no more than millions of stay-at-home mums. It's good therapy to blog it all out though. Thanks for the advice!

  4. I can understand the diffuculties that come from living overseas. I am an Australian but have been living in the UK for 2 years. Damn Australians?.. I thought we were alright :)

    Have added you to my 'Be Inspired To...' list as ' Be a Mum... or is that Mom?'

    UK Update: You are not missing much this summer... there has been about 4 days of sunshine :(

    Sometimes I miss Australia


  5. Thank you Julieanne. I'll add you to my list too.
    It's funny how so many americans think my accent is Australian! personally I think we couldn't sound more dissimilar.
    It's certainly an adventure living away from your homeland isn't it?

  6. Deep breaths, deep breaths Mom/Mum. That's all I have to keep trying to remember. And family days out are never like they are in the movies are they?
    I always feel uch a failiure when they inevitably end up with us all falling out...

  7. So many people here ask if I'm South African... Maybe because I don't run around saying 'G'day mate' but then I guess you're not running around saying 'Cuppa tea guv'nr'... maybe we should :)

    Thanks for the link :)


  8. Julieanne - I get more British as I fight getting too American! Let's try and keep our home voices in our strange countries :)

  9. G'day

    I agree. No worries mate!

    Catch ya ;)


  10. I have always found it funny that people from America think that the British and Australian accents are the same.

    I'm Australian and I don't think we sound at all alike. But I love your accents!