We decided to send Spring Break ’10 out with a bang. Throughout his entire life, Hubs’ motto has been, “Go huge, or go home.” I need to find an Upper Case Living party to attend, and have those five words transformed into one giant wall sticker, which we can slap up in the family room, for all the world to see.
At the Jedi House, we go huge, or we go home. Period.
Spring Break ’10 was no exception. Hubs and I had plotted and secretly planned the Grand Finale for a couple of weeks now, and we were a bit dismayed on Thursday night, when the weather threatened to shoot us down. By 8:00 Thursday night, Hubs and I were convinced that Spring Break ’10 would end with the Great Blizzard of ’10, and that we’d be trapped in our house for days, surrounded by enormous snow drifts, and we’d end up cooking one of the cats for dinner.
Thankfully, the storm blew itself out, and we set out for Bigger Town, USA, bright and early, Friday morning. The boy, you see, had an orthodontist appointment there, because his teeth are one jumbled-up, snarled mess. It’s because his bottom jaw hasn’t grown since he was in preschool.
One Tiny Mouth + Many Enormous Adult Teeth = A Transferal of Our Savings Account to Dr. Orthodontist.
As far as the boy knew, he was making a trip to Bigger Town to see Dr. Orthodontist, and then he was going to be lugged around on a massive shopping trip. To say that he was dismayed was an understatement. The boy loathes and abhors shopping trips. It’s the Y chromosome that he has, as well as some hereditary factors given to him straight from Hubs. Lugging the two of them through the mall with me is almost more torture than I can put up. They both whine and moan and ask, over and over, “How many more stores?” And when a mama has heard that phrase forty-seven times in less than forty-seven minutes, it tends to take some of the fun out of her Shopping Extravaganza. Clearly, it’s why God gives us girlfriends.
After the scheduled orthodontist appointment, we did indeed have to make a few pit stops. I may have mentioned that the boy is very much UN-tall. And he is very much scrawny. And, even though my boy is nine and a half years old, he has been wearing swimming trunks in a size 4/5. Yes, indeed.
Lately, though, he’s decided to do a small bit of growing. Oh, it’s nothing which will shoot him to the back row for the school’s annual Christmas program, but he’s gaining a few inches. Everyone else in his class is gaining a whole lot of inches. Because of the little growth spurt that we have, the boy’s size 4/5 swim trunks now look like jogging shorts from 1979 on him.
Short. Way above the knees. He only needs a pair of tube socks with red stripes around them to complete the look.
Clearly, we were in the market for some new swimming apparel, but there was a bit of a dilemma. The next size up is the 6/7 trunks, and, although they hang nicely to the boy’s knees, he cannot keep them up at the waist. No, sir, he can’t. If he moves a single inch, the 6/7 trunks slide right down his legs and end up on the floor. So we were on a mission, which involved trying on (literally!) thirty different pairs of trunks. We started at Target, and after the seventh pair was on in the dressing room, the whining started.
“How many more swim trunks will I have to try on? This is getting really, really boring!”
Target failed us. Old Navy failed us. And then we hit pay dirt at Gap Kids.
Dear Gap Kids,
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! For some reason, you make clothes for scrawny boys, and your swim trunks actually fit. And they’re actually cool and trendy. And we actually love you, as evidenced by the small fortune in hard-earned American dollars, backed by gold, which we laid down at the cash register on Friday. Thank you, Gap Kids. Because, even though we are much, much poorer now, we can swim in style, several different times, before Mama will be forced to throw a pair of swimming trunks into the washing machine.
With the major shopping mission accomplished, I told the boy that we’d be heading out to lunch. Naturally, he asked if we could eat pizza with his good friend, Chuck.
Chuck E. Cheese.
Hubs and I can barely tolerate Chuck’s pizza parlor. It can bring on a migraine faster than taking a pitched brick to the head. Whenever we visit Bigger Town, USA, the boy asks to go to Chuck E. Cheese. And Hubs and I both tell him, in sad little voices, “We’re so sorry, honey, but we simply don’t have the time to visit both Chuck E. Cheese and Toys R Us today. You’ll have to pick one. Just one.” And, because Hubs and I know our boy quite well, we know that he’ll pick the toy store. Every time. He’ll sigh, and he’ll mumble that he sure hopes that he’ll get to go back to Chuck E. Cheese before high school graduation, but, in the end, he always chooses Toys R Us, and Hubs and I usually slip him a twenty to spend inside, and blam! We get to skip the entire chaotic carnival experience known as Chuck E. Cheese, and that is worth MORE than twenty dollars to us.
But not this time. People, Hubs and I deliberately planned a trip to the pizza place. Deliberately on purpose. Premeditated. Scheduled.
It’s the place where a kid can be a kid, and where the grown-ups get little Valium packets on their way out the door.
On Friday, we had planned to meet our good friends, Gabe and Jodi, there. Gabe and Jodi came armed with their own two punks, Ciara and Blaine. They drove all the way from Small Town, USA, too, as part of the Grand Finale plans.
The boy had no idea!
And when we showed up at Chuck E. Cheese, and he saw Ciara and Blaine, he nearly wept with pure, unadulterated happiness. And he played oodles of games. And he ate four slices of pepperoni pizza. And he told Hubs and I, at least twenty-eleven-eight times, “Thank you!”
It was almost enough to make Hubs and I reconsider visiting Chuck E. Cheese on a regular basis when we are in Bigger Town, USA. Almost. But not quite.
Aren’t they cute?
Ciara and Blaine had some major tickets to cash in at the end. So did the boy. After their parents had spent nearly $7,000 on tokens, the three kiddos each accumulated enough tickets to win a single Tootsie Roll for a prize. And also a one-inch tall plastic cobra. The boy was delighted with his winnings, which amounted to twelve cents’ worth of candy and plastic.
As we were ready to wrap up Chuck E. Cheese and get our little packets of Valium at the door, while the kids got their penny-trinkets in exchange for a string of tickets the length of a football field, Ciara and Blaine casually mentioned to the boy, “We are going to the water park!” And the boy was bummed, as he envisioned parting ways with his friends, and returning to the mall. He looked at Hubs and I and asked, “Could I maybe go with Ciara and Blaine to the water park? If I’m really good while I’m there?” Indeed. It was part of the premeditated Grand Finale, and the boy was shocked.
We went here:
The kids rode tubes in the wave pool, where they bounced along like they were bobbing on the Pacific Ocean.
They loved standing under the giant bucket, which was roughly the size of a dump truck, when it tipped sideways and poured water out. They’d all scream in sheer merriment.
They swam in five different swimming pools.
They smiled and chewed on their goggles. Oh, wait. Only one of them chewed on his goggles. The other two realized that gum is for chewing; goggles are not.
Blaine and the boy threw on life vests and floated in the wave pool. They laughed and giggled and kicked and had a ball. And, people, be honest. Is there anything cuter than Blaine in his green goggles?!
Eventually Ciara grabbed a life vest, too, because bobbing around in the wave pool without an inner tube looked powerfully fun, and she didn’t want to be left out of it.
This is Ciara and the boy, as they were about to embark on yet another trip up the stairs, so they could come screaming down the water slides. Those stairs go up for three full stories. Our children climbed them nearly thee hundred thousand times. Actually, they ran up them three thousand times. Because they are nine years old. And because they have this substance called Energy.
This is their group photo, after sweating in the hot tub.
After almost four hours at the water park, the parents decided that it was time to yank our exhausted children out. None of them had eaten since their four slices of pepperoni pizza at lunch time, and they were starving. We took them to Applebee’s for dinner, and they each consumed more food than a Sumo Wrestler would. Blaine not only ate his entire dinner, but he ended up eating half of his mom’s dinner, as well. The boy ate two cheeseburgers. Two big cheeseburgers, and he still asked for an ice cream sundae. Four Hours at the Water Park + No Snacks All Afternoon = Major Dollars Shelled Out to Feed the Children.
This is what a nine-year-old looks like in a motel room, after spending a day at Chuck E. Cheese and an enormous, indoor water park.
The next morning, Hubs’ parents and a handful of the boy’s cousins met us in Bigger Town, USA, because Grammy had bought the kids tickets to see an enormous dinosaur show, with life-sized robotic replications of the walking reptiles. They were all thrilled to be going, because a life-sized T-Rex spells Serious Fun, in their books.
Aren’t they cute? These are Brother’s boys. The boy and his cousin, B (wearing the jersey), were not gifted with height. Or poundage. They are both nine years old. See little M in the gray sweatshirt? M is three years younger, and one inch shorter than B and the boy. Brother’s Wife and I expect that M will be taller than his older brother and the boy by next year. And W? On the end? He is only ten. W got some height, too. In our family, we grow tall kids, and we grow short kids, but they’re all gorgeous kids.
The dinosaur show, by the way, was a monster-sized hit with this pack.
Eventually, we had to leave Bigger Town, USA and come screaming back home to Smaller Town, USA, because we all had tickets to see a magic show here. A big magic show. A big magic show put on by a fellow who used to be in one of my PE classes. Clearly, I am old.
We met our friends, Cody and Jeff and their little girl, G, at the show, and Brother and Brother’s Wife and their team of kids came, too. And, even though Brother is quite strict about his children eating junk food, as he likes them to eat what is commonly referred to as fruit and yogurt for snacks, he still slipped the boy enough cash for him to secure a full-sized, sugary candy bar at the concession stand, right after I had just explained to the boy that we had to get back on our healthy eating wagon, because we had fallen off of it severely in Bigger Town, USA. I had just told the boy, “We’ve had enough junk food in the last couple of days to last six months, so we’re back to good food, now that we’re home.” And the boy knew this. And he looked at me and said, “But, Mom! Uncle Brother paid for this candy bar!” Thank you, Brother, for filling our son’s belly with sugary goodness, right before bedtime. I cannot possibly thank you enough for your kind deed.
By the end of the magic show, I had a brand new friend, and her name was Pure Exhaustion.
And then this morning dawned, and it was Easter! And that means that Jesus arose, and the tomb is empty, and that is a really fantastic thing! The boy found an Easter basket in our living room this morning, and if there’s one thing that we like to do on Easter Sunday, it’s load our new guns! Nerf Dart Tag, people. When you’re an only child, this means that you must play dart tag with your dad, who will conveniently forget that you are only nine, and that you only weigh fifty-some pounds, and you will have to dodge a full-on assault, the likes of which has never been waged in a war that America has ever participated in. Hubs sometimes forgets that Navy SEALS should never shoot Nerf guns at small boys. Hubs claims that it’s all good training for the boy.
We had one of the very best Easter Sunday services that I have ever been to, today. Ever. It was wonderful, and I even got a little teary-eyed when we sang In Christ Alone. How can anyone make it through their life without believing in the miracle of the Resurrection? I was moved to some tears this morning at church, let me tell you. And after the tears, I was moved to hysterical giggles, as I watched my little one-and-a-half-year-old friend, Jack, unload all the visitor’s cards out of the chair back in front of him. You had to be there. It was precious. I have asked Jack’s mama, Missi, if Hubs and I can have Jack repeatedly. She shoots me down every single stinking time. Apparently she and Jack’s daddy like him well enough to keep him.
And then, we had Easter lunch at Sister’s house. Sister’s Husband smoked a turkey. And Sister’s little girl, L, looked beautiful. When you’re the mother of a boy, you have a really fantastic, full life. Boys are downright precious. But let me tell you this one thing: You miss out on great little girl clothes, because little girl clothes are usually fourteen thousand times cuter than little boy clothes are.
And after we ate lunch with Sister and Sister’s Husband, and my parents, we marched ourselves out to Hubs’ parents’ house, where we ate Lunch Number Two. When everyone lives together in Small Town, USA, you never lack for a babysitter. You can get a babysitter at a moment’s notice, if you get asked out on a date. And on all major holidays, you get to eat twice.
Hubs’ mama (Grammy), had Easter buckets filled with loads of sugary goodness for the troops. And our gifted and talented troops wore them on their heads. The Bucket Brigade, if you will. In this group, we have a future engineer for NASA, the future President of the United States, a future NHL player, and two future super models, and today they all wore buckets on their heads.