Thursday, April 29, 2010

National Buffoons' Family Fun Day

I recently wrote about how I am a terrible mother. The Cap'n decided to take pity on me and say that the recent rash of misbehavior was not my fault, but was due rather to our hectic lifestyle. Channeling his inner Clark Griswold, he proclaimed we needed a Family Fun Day where we would spend all our time together doing super fun stuff as a family! That's all it would take to get everything back on track.

Sure. Just ask the folks at Five Guys how well our Family Fun Days tend to turn out... But I didn't bring this up to the Cap'n.  He was on a roll.

So this time, the plan was to go to Starbucks, followed by a trip to a museum that was all about airplanes and genuine American-made spaceships, followed by burgers at... wait for it......Red Robin. All the elements needed for a truly great day, right?

Here’s a play-by-by:

Getting ready to go, Thumbelina freaked out because she was not allowed to wear her favorite dress to Family Fun Day. The dress, a hand-me-down, is white cotton with clusters of blue forget-me-nots, a large portrait collar, the world's puffiest sleeves, a large bow in the back and a huge skirt with so much tulle built into it that when she sits down, it poofs up everywhere. It is one size too small for Thumbelina. But she loves it anyway because she believes it is fancy and she loves to be fancy.  The resulting look is part Texas Polygamy cult and part Laura Ashley circa 1983. I finally gave in and let her wear it when she told me in her saddest voice that she knew she could only wear it once more because it was just a little too small and could I please, please, please let her wear it today for the last time. I caved. BIG MISTAKE.

Heading to Starbucks, we let the kids pick drive-thru (note the proper pop-culture misspelling) or go-in. They picked drive-thru because they were so anxious to get to the super fun museum with airplanes and spaceships. They promised on their little lives and crossed their little hearts that they would not intentionally pour out their drinks inside the van or dump frothy chocolate on their heads or on each other or collaborate on another evil experiment. They swore. They repeated it back to me. Then they did it anyway - which was super fun until Mommy saw what they were doing and lost her schmidt.  Thumbelina then realized that she now had hot chocolate all over her beloved dress. The first round of wailing commenced.

We had just about settled down twenty minutes later when we arrived at the museum, the cause of so much anticipation and excitement. How did it go?

• When they saw it, they both burst out with exclamations of: "Oh. OK." and "Really? That's it?" and "Is this the place I got my school clothes [i.e., Kohl's]?"   I hoped Cap'n Griswold didn't hear them.  He was still in the magical Oz of Family Fun Day. 

• Thumbelina had chosen to pair her special dress with some white sandals that she soon discovered made a very loud SMACK SMACK with every step she took. So she happily walked as NOISILY as possible and pretended she had no idea what I was talking about when I asked her to stop. So everywhere we went, my daughter (who looked she was raised by Little House on the Prairie reenactors with poor vision) was goose-stepping oddly and accompanied by the SMACK SMACK SMACKITTY SMACK of her feet. We were getting looks. And not the good kind.  She sounded like a large running goose who ran through pancake batter and then happened upon a snare drum. 

• Hawk kept asking if the planes were for good guys or bad guys. When they were deemed good, he would nod sagely and mumble about how they belonged to the Rebel Alliance. If they were deemed bad, he would frown and say "Imperial Forces again, damn it".

Note: The geniuses who designed this museum apparently did not take into consideration acoustics. It’s sort a big airplane hanger with planes suspended from the ceiling and planes on the ground. Planes everywhere. That’s a lot of space to fill up with noise. My kids filled it all up. With noise.

• The baby managed to unbuckle herself from the stroller and run squawking into a large group of geriatric tourists. And when I say squawk, I mean the exact sound that a large, hungry seagull makes.

• Hawk enjoyed climbing over the sign that said: “Do Not Climb” and dangle himself three stories above the concrete floor.  I screamed and snatched him and did not calm down for a full ten minutes. Hawk found the entire incident and my discomposure hilarious and kept saying: "Silly Momma, you know I can't read."  I felt like the Man in the Yellow Hat but without the excuse of raising a monkey. 

• Thumbelina sprinted off twice to run and up down a huge flight of stairs.  She was forced to walk with one hand on the stroller as punishment.  She then spent the rest of the time “accidentally” walking in front of the stroller and then complaining that it hit her.

• The Cap'n was slightly out of breath and carrying a squirmy baby after chasing Thumbelina up and down four flights of stairs.  I commented to her that Daddy looked like he was walking funny, to which she replied: "Yeah. Probably because he's wearing sneakers with that outfit."  Those were mighty big words coming from someone dressed as a Duggar.

• The baby refused to say please the entire day.  No amount of persuading would convince her.  She instead said “mine” and “now” and sometimes said them both in a sequence that sounded exactly like “meow”.

• When asked what they would like to see next, Hawk and Thumbelina both said they just wanted to ride in the elevator for a while.

• Hawk, who spends about 50% of his time entirely consumed with Star Wars, was confronted with actual space suits and an actual space ship and his response was: “meh.”

(The Cap'n was all: "Then I give up.  Because I  can't do better than that.  I can't do better than actual spaceships.")

• Thumbelina was leaning on a railing three stories high and I asked her three times to step back. When she didn’t respond, I walked over and tapped her on the back.  The tap must have startled her, because she let loose the loudest, highest, ear-splitting shriek I have ever heard.  It was so loud that the planes suspended from the ceiling started vibrating. Everyone in the entire museum was like “WTF was that?!”  The security guards all did double takes and several people actually grabbed their chests.  Thumbelina just grinned and said: “Mommy scared me!” then cheerfully went SMACK SMACK SMACK towards the elevator while dressed like a cult member.  It was awesome.

We then went to Red Robin, where the waitress asked us if she could give the kids balloons. Actually, I’d rather she gave them lit cigars. Because I hate balloons. Balloons serve one purpose and that is to make my kids cry. And how am I supposed to say "no" once you ask?  If I deny them balloons, they will whine through the entire meal.  If I say "yes," they will annoy me with their balloons during the entire meal.  Either way – I lose and I’m the one paying so, what the hell?  Also, didn’t anyone ever tell you not to give a baby a long piece of string, even if a balloon is attached to one end? Mini-mini-me had that thing around her neck in two seconds.

So while we ate, we ask the kids what they thought of the museum and what they liked best.
Thumbelina: "Running up and down the big stairs."
Hawk: "Well, actually, none of the stuff I saw was really real. Because it was imaginary. Dat spaceship and stuff – not real. You know dat, right? Dat museum needs to get some real stuff."
Mini-mini-me: "CAW!"

So we finished eating and got in the car and Thumbelina’s balloon immediately popped. She started crying inconsolably and then suggested that if her brother really loved her, he would give her his balloon.  He looked horrified and hugged his balloon tight saying: “No! Balloony is my best friend and he hates girls!” So then she suggested that if he really loved her he would pop it so they could be sad together.  He gave her a Maude face and told her she was crazy in the coconut.  Then she cried some more.  Then the baby started crying because Thumbelina was crying.  Then Hawk started crying because everyone else was crying and also he was scared that Thumbelina might try to hurt Balloony.

I looked at the Cap’n and tried to remind him with a look (as trying to make myself heard was futile) that Family Fun Day was all his idea and therefore all his fault.  He shrugged, fiddled with the iPod and put on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and turned it up really loud – so as to be audible over the wailing.  The second the little monsters in the back heard “Ground Control to Major Tom” they stopped crying.  Then they started rocking out (even Balloony) and singing with their eyes closed.

We were still rocking out when we pulled into the driveway.  The kids tumbled out of the van and started racing around the yard yelling: “Best! Day! Ever!” over and over again. The Cap’n looked at me, took a deep breath, raised one eyebrow and said:

“I think we just made a memory.”

Isn't it pretty to think so?  By the next day, the kids could remember next to nothing outside of the elevator, Red Robin and the loss of Balooney's next of kin.  But I couldn't tell the Cap'n.  Silly Cap'n.  He'd made himself a memory.

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