Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Carpe Diem

In an attempt to carpe diem, we decided to grab the younger kids from school a little early and go visit a museum after picking up Shaggy from the airport.  The kids had promised that they would do their homework during the long drive to get him.  And amazingly, all was going according to plan.  J was patiently helping R with the words she didn’t know.  B had fallen fast asleep since we skipped her normal nap.  J finished his homework, R fell asleep in the middle of reading out loud.  Things were beautifully peaceful.  A little too peaceful which made me feel drowsy.  It’s a looong drive to that airport.  And after a week of running things on my own, I'm usually exhausted.

But no worries, we picked up Shaggy without incident and headed over to the airplane museum.  Where J proceeded to ask questions a mile a minute.  
No Joke.  Even Shaggy, who normally loves to answer his questions, was taking deep breaths and looking my way for help.  “Don’t look at me.  He’s your son.  I wasn’t born endlessly inquisitive like you two.”  It doesn’t help stem the flow of questions when Shaggy always knows the answer, either.  I haven’t the foggiest how he knows all the things he knows.

R was the ultimate tag-along kid, just happy to be there, as long as B didn’t butt in and push too many buttons on the flight simulator games she was working on.  When that happened, she started wailing at the top of her lungs, her young and healthy voice echoing off the walls of the sparsely populated museum.  B responded by also joining in the wailing.  We tried to laugh it off and drag them away from the contention-causing educational interaction.
B was adamant about her own itinerary in the place.  When she decided it was time to go see something else, she would grab our shirts or our legs, or both and adamantly insist, “Come see sompin!  Look this!”

Which usually happened when Shaggy was in the middle of answering J’s latest question, even though J was only prepared to actually listen to about half of the answer.  Sometimes less, depending on how technical the question was.  Besides playing with the flight simulators, R merely wanted to know where all the doors to the planes were and weather someone would get sucked into the engines.

So Shaggy and I often found ourselves being dragged in opposite directions while glancing longingly at one another.  Because, well, we like to spend time together.  And we like to talk to each other.  But we found ourselves unable to get a single word in edgewise with these lovely and inquisitive and demanding children of ours.  Sadly, both time together and conversation is in much shorter supply these days than it has ever been during the course of our marriage.  When envisioning family trips to the museum, this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.

If it wasn’t so darn good for these kids that we love, we might be tempted to skip it altogether.  Because it’s exhausting.  And it gives me PTSD flashbacks to the road trip.  *shudder
We stayed until the bitter end, the very last minute we were allowed to be in the museum.  Then we rounded up our munchkins and got strapped back in the van.  Just in time to get stuck in the middle of rush hour traffic.  Traffic?!  Traffic was nonexistent in Fresno.  Here it seems unavoidable, kind of like our good old Chicago days.

So we hopped off the freeway in search of dinner.  The kids were yelling the names of different restaurants, none of which sounded very appetizing to us.  But since Garmin wasn’t showing us any better options in the area, we went to Wendy’s.

We’ve been avoiding any and all fast food since the road trip, but there was no getting around it this time.  We were stuck with Wendy’s.

And Wendy’s, unfortunately, was stuck with us.  And our motley crew of misbehaving children.  J was doing everything in his power to pester R.  R was responding by screaming and having meltdowns about her nuggets.  And B was climbing around the benches and tables.  Once we finally called it quits, I actually had to drag her out from beneath a table by her ankles.  All my explanations about how gross the floors are in fast food joints were lost on her.

We managed to drag all three protesting children out to the van and shove them in their buckles with hearts full of gratitude.

How’s that for evolution?  Our parental evolution.

We were grateful that we only had to drive for 1.5 hours with these children instead of across the nation.  It’s all relative, right?

In the end, I don’t know if it was a diem worth being carpe’d.  It was really just a big pain.  But the kids did enjoy those airplanes.  And I suppose that’s what the carpe part is all about.

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