On Friday morning we schlepped the kids, the giant jogging stroller, changes of clothing, swim gear, towels, water shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, snacks, sippy cups, extra underwear for my 4-year-old son (just in case), and our proudly purchased discount-passes (my husband saved $13 off of each ticket at our local grocery store) to the park for a day that promised to be all sorts of... well... crazy.
My husband bragged about his genius at finding discount passes as we pulled into the parking lot, and I was forced to acknowledge that, as always, he was the bargain master, and yes—generally his skills at ferreting out the best deals were under-appreciated in our household.
I believe I was still stroking his ego as we tried to unload the heavy bags that vomited out the back of our van as soon as the hatch opened, when the man from the car next to us approached us and said, "Hey, you guys wouldn't by any chance want some free passes, would you? I have four extra and they're only good until Monday, and we're looking to give them to a family who could use them."
I had begun to say, "Oh, isn't that nice of you, when I was cut off by my husband, who said, tight-lipped, "No, we have passes already..." then, "dammit!" under his breath.
I patted him on the back comfortingly as we strolled toward the park. He was taking the whole matter rather hard (he is very serious about saving money, and I knew he was already thinking about what he could have done with the cash we had spent on the tickets), but he promised he would get over it, and we proceeded into the park.
As soon as we crossed through the turnstiles, our son Evan began strutting about, hands on his hips and rump shaking, shouting "Oh YEAH!!! Oh YEAH!!!" He then began running back and forth in a random zig-zag pattern, flailing his arms about and shaking his head, and the looks he was attracting from the passersby said that they were slightly concerned he might be having some sort of seizure. I returned their worried gazes with a look that I hoped communicated "He's fine—he's just a spazz."
We decided to start the day with a nice, calm train ride to get our 20-month-old daughter Clara warmed up to the idea of the park. We boarded the train and Evan was extremely excited—he continued his endless chant of "Oh yeah!" during the ride (this occasionally morphed into Justin Bieber's "Baby, Baby, Baby...Ooooh...and then back into "Oh yeah!" ...it was like the remix from hell), while Clara—who was downright terrified—spent the whole ride shrieking in my ear and frantically screaming, "No CHAIN!!! BYE-BYE!!! DONE, DONE, DONE!!!" Needless to say, it was not a very relaxing ride.
Once we had extracted ourselves from the train and steeled ourselves for what the rest of the day promised to bring, we redirected the children to the kiddie area, where there were more age-appropriate rides available.
What ensued was rather predictable—Evan saw the various attractions and began frantically running from ride to ride like a chihuahua on speed.
Clara was initially scared, but then she spotted this statue of Snoopy and was quite content to stand there and molest it for a good half an hour, so I babysat her while Evan went on some rides with his daddy.
And, fortunately, we were actually able to convince Clara to ride a couple of attractions (especially if they resembled a swing set) before we took a break for lunch.
After lunch we decided to head to the water park. I took both children into the ladies' room with me to change while my hubby rode one of the new coasters that had recently been installed. Changing myself and two children into swimsuits is quite the feat on an ordinary day, but considering that my son was still running about like a yippy-dog on crack, and that I had no leash with which to tether him to a toilet, it was absolute chaos.
Clothing was thrown randomly into whatever bag was closest as I tried to keep Evan from running out of the bathroom, giggling, with just a shirt on and his wee-wee flapping freely in the breeze. I considered it a triumph that we didn't leave a shoe behind and I still had both of my own children with me when all was said and done.
The stroller was now completely useless, as in my panic I had randomly loaded it down with bags that were now bursting at the zippers, threatening to explode and haphazardly spew our belongings onto the cement. My husband returned from riding the roller coaster, flushed with excitement. He saw the stroller and the look on my face and frowned.
"Was there... a problem?" he asked. I glared at him and said, "Take her!" thrusting our daughter into his arms and grabbing Evan by the hand before he could dart away again.
We trudged over to the water park and headed for the kiddie play area. Clara wanted nothing to do with it. She wouldn't set foot in the water without shrieking, and when I tried to take her down one of the little baby slides on my lap, she panicked and ended up pooping in her swim diaper.
No, Clara wanted nothing to do with water play. She instead found a reclining chair, pulled a towel from one of the bags, and sprawled across it. She said, "Night, night," closed her eyes and lay there sunning herself.
Meanwhile, Evan had discovered the greatest thrill in the park so far—the squirting fountains!! Why would squirting fountains be more exciting than, say, a kiddie coaster? Well, basically because a kiddie coaster doesn't spray water in your crotch. Take a look—this is just brilliant. I'm... so.... proud.
It also didn't help that he found it quite enjoyable to have the water spray his bottom too.
Yep—that's my boy.
We practically had to drag him out of the water park, but we finally did manage to get back to the changing areas. I took Clara with me into the ladies' room, and my husband took Evan, but the bags were so mixed up it was impossible to tell who had whose clothes. I ended up with my husband's shirt, Evan's socks had been lost completely, and I simply couldn't find my underwear.
What I did have, however, was an extra pair of Evan's toddler-sized Calvin Kleins. I debated whether I'd be able to squeeze my butt into his teensy undies.
(You may be asking yourself why a 4-year-old needs Calvin Klein underwear. Basically, he doesn't. They were on sale at Ross, and I caved.)
Fortunately, I finally located my undies at the very bottom of the diaper bag, underneath some crushed peanut butter crackers. I shook the crumbs out of them and hoped peanut-butter crackers were vajayjay friendly; I did not want to get some bizarre infection from half-eaten toddler snacks.
We got some semblance of order to our bags and headed back to the main park, where Evan resumed his routine of running, yelling, going on rides, and shouting "Oh YEAH!!" But eventually even he started to run out of steam, and we began to trudge our way to the park's exit.
Before we left, I asked him to pause for a picture with me and Snoopy, and he agreed, but only on the condition that he could "pose" me. This is the result, and I must say, it's ironically my favorite picture from the whole day!
We pulled into our driveway and listened to our children snoring loudly in their car seats. We decided not to wake them up for dinner; instead we gingerly carried them upstairs, changed them into their pajamas (they didn't even wake up during this process), and laid them gently in their respective beds.
My husband and I then got to enjoy the first quiet dinner at home together we'd had in a LONG time. It was nice. At one point my hubby said, "Hey... we should do this amusement park thing more often! Putting the kids to bed was a breeze!"
I shot him a murderous glance.
"Just kidding!" he said.
Good—just making sure.