Have you ever had just one of those days? And was it ever during a trip? And was it also not just one day but an entire weekend? So I guess I should ask: Have you had just one of those weekend trips? Well I just had one and I just had to share it with you.
The premise is simple. Leave on Saturday, drive to West Virginia, spend the day in Charleston, the next day go take family pictures with extended family and return that afternoon. Sounds simple, right? Oh, I forgot to add one thing; you have to take your three children. Now you are beginning to understand. But don’t start thinking a whimsical, family vacation spent frolicking through lily fields until picture time as your pretty little girls in their sundresses smile so pretty for mummy and daddy and you take such wonderful family pictures that would make Anne Geddes and her fat, sunflower babies cry. No, I have boys.
We start off the trip to Charleston, West Virginia following my wife’s parents because they know the way. And lucky for my wife and I, they agreed to take the two older boys, Zachary, who is 5 years old and Drew, who is in the “horrendous two’s” (because ‘terrible’ doesn’t do it justice). And Lindsey and I had our sweet little 10 month old, Baby Nate. The 3 hour car trip was going well for both parties, because our baby was sleeping and we couldn’t hear the other two because they were in the other car so we didn’t care how they were doing. Oh, when I said two parties, I meant me and my wife, cause silence in a car is like a party celebrating the two guests of honor, Peace and Quiet. We were loving life, enjoying great conversation, the time was flying by, until… he awoke. Now he should have slept the whole time but of course, it was one of those weekends. So he screamed and cried and screamed. We tried a bottle, gold fish crackers, applesauce, movies, radio, blankets, and pacifiers. But all he wanted was to get out of that car seat. And we still had an hour to go. And at this point I am thinking three things: 1. Are we there yet? 2. Can I squeeze a third car seat in the back of their car? 3. How far is it if I were to walk from here? Our enjoyable, time-flying-by car ride just turned into a never-ending scream fest that seemed to last an extra 10 hours. Well we eventually arrived, frazzled but alive and went into Lindsey’s grand-parents house.
Have you ever taken your toddler(s) to a friend’s house that does not have children and so nothing in their house is child-proofed. Well take that experience and add priceless family heirlooms and china sets at eye level and reach length for a 2 year old. It has been a long time since her grandparents have had really young kids in their house, so they collect more and more things and items get moved lower and lower on shelves. Here is an interesting tidbit: You want to know if a family has kids or grandkids? Everything nice will be above eye level and everything replaceable will be below eye level. Needless to say, I spent the next 2 hours chasing Zachary and Drew around the house saying, “Stop, don’t touch that, what do you think you are doing, don’t go outside, put that down, Hey, stop licking the glass, close the freezer, don’t put your hand in the trash, go wash your hands.” All this while holding Baby Nate. Luckily we had an opportunity to go to her grandparent’s club pool to go swimming.
We go to their country club with my wife and our three little angels and take 15 minutes to set-up camp at the baby pool; change into swim suits, apply swim diapers, apply sunscreen, find swim goggles, apply flotation devices, etc. We go into the pool and begin to swim having a great time. We love it because they are expending pent up energy and cutting down the chase time for later. Well after 15 minutes of swimming Drew gets a mouthful of water and starts coughing. No big deal. But then keeps coughing and coughing, and while in the pool, throws up. He had choked on water. He then threw up again in the pool before we could grab him and get him to the trashcan where he threw up again all over himself. All while Lindsey is holding the baby and I am shooing an angry 5 year old, who still wants to swim, out of the puke-laden pool. Well we tell the 10 year old life guard on duty. No joke. She was so young. She didn’t know what to do expect call her boss and ask her what to do. All the while, probably texting her friends and trying to look up Justin Bieber’s latest tweet. And at this point all the other families have retreated out of the pool and gathered around the baby pool. So we clean up Drew, who is now crying for a ring pop, gather up a crying Zachary cause we have to leave, collect all our belongings while holding a baby and pushing a stroller down a flight of steps, while a crowd of West Virginians scowl at us for puking in their pool and leaving. So much for expending that energy. We go home and they all skip their naps. We have a wonderful evening ahead of us now.
That evening we go to Lindsey’s second cousins house for a birthday dinner. Well the kids would not sit still. Nothing would hold their interest except getting into trouble; grabbing whatever they could, messing with the dog, stealing crackers off the table with their dirty hands, climbing on boxes in the basement, yelling and laughing during the prayer, etc. I wanted to say, “Whose children are those? Where are their parents?” But everyone knew they belonged to me cause I was the one always one step behind them cleaning up the messes, picking them off the boxes, trying to silence them fighting each other, etc. The best part was during dinner, Drew was standing on his chair and leaned on the back causing it to tip backward and fall on the floor with him hitting his stomach in the process making him cry. Even though he stood up on his chair, I look like the irresponsible one for letting it happen. When all I was thinking was, “good, maybe that will teach you to listen to your parents.” After dinner, when it seems like we are going to go home and end this dreadful day, out comes the cookie cake. Nothing brings more joy to a parent’s heart like sleep deprived, sugar induced, toddlers 3 hours past their bed time at a non-child proofed extended family members house in a different state. Oh and by the way, your two year old just pooped their pants and you don’t have wipes. But we do finally get home and end the day yelling at them for jumping on the antique bed and trying to play “crash ‘em” with the 1940’s figurines in the hallway. We all collapse in exhaustion, ending the day and looking forward to what joy and merriment tomorrow holds.
I don’t know what you count as tomorrow starting because I had to feed Baby Nate at 2 in the morning. Then four hours later I feel Zachary crawl into bed with us because the temperature in the room dropped to Antarctic levels as you could now see your breath and they began filming March of the Penguins 2 around the bed. Well I asked Lindsey later if she enjoyed cuddling with Zachary in the morning because while she got the cute cuddly side, I got the kicking, ice cold feet in the back side…for an hour. It was my favorite way to wake up at 6 in the morning. We all got up at 7 and none of the kids slept in because of course why would they, and we started the process of waiting until picture time at 1:00, a quick 6 hours away. 6 hours of chasing kids around a house filled with family memories, delicious home cooked food and easily breakable, priceless, antique, family heirlooms. On top of the chasing and disciplining, the air conditioner couldn’t compete with an oven that was running all morning especially since the air conditioner worked overtime the night before preparing the ice skating rink in our bedroom. And add 11 adults and 3 children getting ready for family pictures, the house began to heat up. My father-in-law actually started sweating through all the shirts he put on. He had rings of sweat around his rib cage on every shirt he put on. He started running out of his own shirts and so was borrowing shirts from other relatives. I think I even saw him put on one of Nana’s dickeys just to soak up the sweat. He eventually ended up walking around shirtless when he discovered that he couldn’t wear Baby Nate’s onesies. Another side note, Lindsey’s uncle shows up who lives in Charleston and their basement flooded at midnight the night before. Just one more thing. But somehow I think my kids had something to do with it.
We finally make it to 1:00 and we leave for picture time at the country club where Drew had puked in the pool the day before. I let Lindsey and the 2 older boys out at the door and go park the car with Baby Nate. Well Lindsey’s grandmother believed the club was locked so they walked around the side of the building, through the maintenance area where Zachary walked near a broken beer bottle in bare feet. But did not get hurt except Lindsey got a chunk of glass stuck in her shoe and when Mallory, her brother’s fiancé, went to pull it out, she cut her finger open on it. All the while I am parking the car and just sit in the silence for 2 minutes. A 2 minute break from the insanity. But of course, during that time, a mosquito that was in the car bit me and I now had a giant mosquito bite, swelling and red, on my forehead 10 minutes before the family picture. Was I surprised? No. Was it funny for everyone else? Yes. Before we came to the club, I had a conversation with my father-in-law how we were glad the pictures that were scheduled to be outside were changed to be taken inside the club out of the 100 degree heat. It was something I was looking forward to, being in the air conditioning while I chased the kids inside. Well, we walk into the club, walk downstairs, and walk right outside to take the pictures on the patio out back. So much for air conditioning and a dry shirt. The pictures were relatively painless except Zachary punched his second cousin in the groin before pictures, so it wasn’t painless for him. Oh, and Drew bit the photographer. So it was relatively painless for all but 2 people.
We packed up and this time we had all 3 kids in our car for the trip home. Within 30 minutes all 3 were asleep. It was an amazing moment. And 10 minutes after that Baby Nate woke up. Of course he did. Because life is not fair. And I am convinced that children were created to remind one of that fact everyday of a parent’s life. Well then the crying started. And when Lindsey told me I was waking up the kids, I stopped. But to their credit, the kids did well on the way home. Of course, a stop at Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, and an in-car DVD player helped too.
We finally arrived home, exhausted and ready to put the TV on for the kids and let Dora the Explorer parent our children until bedtime so we could rest. That’s when I discovered that our dog had rolled in goose poop and needed an emergency bath. Well after that bath, when the dog was about to come inside, my wife points out more poop under her ear. So after the second bath, I am ready for bedtime. But wouldn’t you know it, Baby Nate wasn’t ready for bed. So he stays up with us another hour. But despite how tired I am, I still have stayed up till midnight to write this blog and share this wonderful experience with you. Thank you for reading. Oh and I have just heard the baby waking up ready for a midnight bottle. The joys of parenting keep on coming. Or is that just sleep-deprived delusions.
The Joyful and Tired Dad