Dec 4, 2005

It Could Only Happen to Us

12/04/2005 — cori

We recently had the opportunity to go to "Holiday in the Park" at our local theme park with some of Chuck's co-workers. We have not yet exposed our children to the joys and thrills of the theme park before, so we had a little educating to do in order to get them up to speed. For weeks, we built up the suspense and excitement. We described such rides as Bumper Cars, Ferris Wheels and tried to explain that a Roller Coaster was like a really big slide but you had to ride on something with wheels to go down it. Their minds have been on over-drive for the past week just picturing the untold happiness they were about to encounter. They called their Grandparents several times the day of the 'Big Event' to tell them, for the 10th time, that they were just about to leave to this magical place.

The anticipation was more than they could bear. They were speechless for the whole hour and a half drive there. Actually, Bennett was so excited, he fell asleep. Not only were the kids excited, so were we. It had been over 10 years since the last time Chuck and I stepped foot in the place. So, we were about to be reliving many memories of adolescent fun. And, as an added bonus, I would finally get a chance to meet and mingle with his co-workers and their family members. We were all hyped.

We made it through the grueling lines at the gate. But that was bearable because our adrenaline was running high with the thought of all the fun that lay waiting for us behind that gate. It was about 4:30pm, by time we made it into the park and blindly found our way to 'the spot' where we were supposed to his friends. We waited and waited and waited.

We were very surprised by how many people kept coming into the park. I have come to believe that the entire population of the city attempted to turn out at this park all on the same day. As we waited, we heard a rumor floating around that the power had gone out. A lady next to us confirmed that in fact, her husband and child were stuck in the middle of the tallest roller coaster ride.

Ahhh, lovely. Over half the park has now lost power. The sun is beginning to set and tummies are rumbling. We have now been at the park for at least 45 minutes and have done nothing but stand in one spot. I am terrified, of course, of loosing my they too have only been allowed to stand in one spot and have not veered more than one step away from me.

Chuck then decides that we need to let the kids try to get one at least one ride in before we try to find food. So, we push and shove our way....oops...I meant we meander our way through the mob of people in order to find the 'Kiddie Section'. Luckily, we were not ever 50 yards away. But that is where our luck ran out. It seemed that this section of the park was also without power. Now what?

Well, everyone is starving...and I don't just mean us...I mean everyone in the entire park (which remember, is the entire population of our 1mil+ city). We hear another rumor that there is power in one small section, so we voluntarily throw ourselves into the moving wave of people and pray we don't get separated. Everyone else evidently heard the same rumor and are all headed to the one 'restaurant' (I use the term very loosely. In this case, it is a place that owns a microwave and can pop in any t.v. dinner you might choose to pay your life savings for) in the park with power and food.

Luckily, we have made contact with one of Chuck's work friends and were able to secure two tables together. The men go in search of food (otherwise known as 'the hunt') and the women and children are left to 'prepare the nest' (otherwise known as keep the children happy and sitting without food while also fending off other hungry humans looking for a place to sit). Both the men and the ladies were successful in their pursuits and for a brief moment in time we actually enjoyed a cordial conversation with other polite people in this rambunctious, crazy atmosphere. But our joy soon ended. We were done eating. Now what do we do?

I forgot to mention, while guarding our coveted table, I received what I like to call 'The Leg Injury of 2005'. I procured the largest bruise and knot on the top of my upper thigh as I tried to get up from my seat. I had to pretend it didn't hurt as bad as it did. I wanted to just kick the chair and cry. But then I would have had an audience since we were all practically sitting on top of each other. I'm trying very hard not be too melodramatic, but man, did it hurt. The only positive thing about this was that it momentarily took my mind off the atom bomb currently going off inside my head and helped displace the pain to my leg. To quote a lesson I've learned from the Berenstein Bears: Every problem has a positive side to it. You just have to look for it.

There are way too many other parts of this story that I don't have time to bore you with, like how I had to literally crawl over the table and chairs in order to get out of the 'eating area', or the line for the ladies bathroom that was as long as a parade, or the nice thin layer of slimy green substance on the floor once you walked into the bathroom, or how we were so paranoid of loosing the kids that we coached them on what to say if we got separated and how we put Chuck's business cards in their pockets and would randomly ask them to 'produce the card' just to make sure they knew where it was at all times. Talk about fun.

When we just couldn't take it anymore, we decided to throw in the towel and leave. There were only a very few rides open and even if you were brave enough to wait in line and risk the power outage, you would easily have to wait at least another hour before even stepping foot on the ride. Chloe would have none of that.

What parent brings their children to a theme park, spends two hours there and doesn't let their children ride even one measly little ride?! Us. We were the ones who built up their anticipation and now we were the ones dashing their hopes. We felt horrible. We HAD to make it up to them, so we asked them what they wanted to do. Their first choice was to go swimming. That wasn't going to happen - we felt bad, but not that bad.

Their second choice was to go home, pull out the sofa bed and watch a Superhero movie and sleep on the sofa bed all night. How could we say no to such a simple, fun request? We tried to up the ante by offering to stop at Half-Price Books and let them pick out a new Spiderman movie. You would have thought we just gave them a million dollars.

Of course it didn't work out that easy. Chloe had to contribute to the chaos of the evening. Her contribution came in the form of a diaper blow-out that leaked all over her new velour jogging suit (not that she knows how to jog, it's about the fashion statement). This blow-out occurred somewhere in the parking lot, which meant we were too far away to turn around and find a changing station in a restroom. This diaper required strategic planning and implementation on the part of our entire family. Each one had a job to do. I was to hold her. Chuck was to remove any and all areas affected by 'the leak' and figure out how to dispose of it. Gavin was 'Wipe Man' and was in charge of handing me the wipes (this was a 6-wiper, just in case you were curious). Bennett was to hold her hand and make her feel as comfortable as possible in a minivan with the door wide open and all family members looking on as her most basic bodily functions are being taken care of. This was one of our finest hours of team work.

We were excited about our plan, but before before we could stop at Half-Price, priority number one was to find food for me. So, we ended up stopping at my favorite restaurant first. My tummy was finally happy (but it still didn't help the migraine). After another hour and a half of waiting and eating, we finally made it to Half-Price books around 9pm. My kids are normally fast asleep by then - but this was no ordinary night, was it?!

We made it home around 10pm, got all cozy in our jammies and watched an hour of Spiderman cartoons from the 80's. Does it get any better than that?! I think we successfully have prevented our children from ever asking to go to any amusement parks for the next several years. On our way out of the park Gavin said, "We drove 1 1/2 just to eat? Let's get out of here. I don't like this place." Brainwashing complete - mission accomplished. Then later, on the way home he said, "Tonight was great, we got to go to our favorite restaurant (Chuys), our favorite bookstore (Half-Price) and do our favorite thing (watch movies on the sofa bed and stay up late). This is a great day." It seems he forgot all about the theme park.

Lessons learned: 1. You can be cheap and still have fun. 2. Spending a lot of money at amusement parks does not guarantee a good time. 3. Fun is relative. 4. Whatever you do as a family can be fun just for the fact that you get to do it together and make memories.

True Love

12/04/2005 — cori

Bennett and I were just bonding together as we were slaving over the hot oven making our 'cut-n-bake' sugar cookies. He on a chair, me hovering next to him in order to insure we were only cutting and baking cookies - not fingers. He's a stickler for 'doing it himself''. Most times he doesn't even need any instruction while learning a new task. Amazing, isn't it?!

As we struggle back and forth with the proper placement of the knife upon the cookie dough stick, he sweetly says, "Mom, I wuv wu."

"Why, thank you Bennett, I love you too." I respond.

Evidently, he felt the need to expound on his love, "But I weelly wuv wu - even dough wu don't wook pretty today."

We are still feverishly cutting cookies here. So, I try to remain composed and not fall into a heap on the floor since my self esteem has just been thrown a huge blow. I muster up my sweetest voice and ask, "So, you don't think Mommy looks pretty today, huh?"

Bennett, ever the sensitive little one, responds "No. But I yike wu jeans. Dey are nice. And wu are nice. And I still wuv wu."

"So, what you're saying is, you're not a big fan of the shirt I have on. Is that right?" I say in a calm, even voice.

"Ya. Can I go play now?" He is done. Bonding time is over. More important matters demand his immediate attention. I'm glad he was able to get that off his chest.

Excuse me...I've got to go change my shirt now.

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