Yesterday was my birthday, and I celebrated by getting to the grocery store at 7:30am and being home by 9:00! Wooo-Hoooooo!!!!! (OK -- Even though I did actually do that, I'm kidding about the "that's how I celebrated" part. However, I feel it's important to point out that for the record, being home from the grocery by 9:00am with all the food we need for the week, and not having to drag the boys along for the ride is my idea of a perfect Saturday. My, how my life has changed...... I'm sure the people who knew me in my college days, or perhaps from before that, are holding their sides and rolling on the floor convulsing with shrieks of laughter.) But I digress....... I was talking about my birthday.
I rolled into the driveway from the grocery store (at 9:00am) and was greeted by Landis and Gibson, who had hidden in a great spot, and totally scared the beejeezus out of me by jumping out of their hiding spot, blowing horns and yelling "SUPRISE!!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!" at the top of their lungs. They led me inside to a kitchen that was totally decorated, and sat me down at the table, which held a pile of birthday presents. I opened each gift to lots and lots of excitement, as the frozen veggies and other refrigerated items slowly defrosted and/or got warm in my hot car. After the presents were opened, and the kids were hugged and kissed and thanked, and Mike was hugged and kissed and thanked, and the groceries were in the house and put away, the boys scampered upstairs to get dressed. Then my mother-in-law pulled up. She lives in Virginia and had come for the day to celebrate my birthday and go to Carowinds with us! (For those of you who may not know, Carowinds is a theme park with roller coasters, rides, and a water park.) Hooray!! What a great birthday treat.
So, off we went. It was a Saturday, and lots of other people had the same idea we did, so it's safe to say that it was pretty crowded at Carowinds. And they were having a Christian music concert later that evening, so there were tons of church groups there, each distinguishing itself from another in the form of a group T-shirt. One was light blue and said "Satan is a poo poo head", others just had their church names on them. Some of them had scripture verses on the front, and others were more "recruit" focused, saying things like "Are YOU saved?". The number of people standing around at the gate was a little overwhelming, so we made our way through that sea of multi-colored T-shirts and headed toward the rides. We started in kiddie-land and wound around, from one ride to another, slowly making our way around the park. Hot air balloons, swings, roller coasters, boats, old fashioned cars..... rides that went up and down, rides that went 'round and 'round. And in between all the high-flying excitement we snacked, stood in lines, and finally took a break for lunch.
After lunch, we did more of them same. Except that now, in the afternoon, Mike and I were getting the itch to ride some more "adult" rides. Fran was not so interested in being flung around on a roller coaster, so she decided that we should ride a big roller coaster and she would take the kids back over to kiddie land. And seeing that the line for the "Borg" was probably going to take an hour, she told us to ride the ride, take our time, and don't rush. She took the boys and headed toward kiddie land, and we got in the long, long, long, line.We took our place behind a group of teenagers from one church group, and another large group of teenagers from another church took their place in line behind us. I wouldn't have had much cause to turn around and study the group of teenagers behind us, except for the fact that I couldn't help but overhear them. For instance, shortly after we got in line, 2 young African American boys came up the line from the back. They worked their way up past us, and joined 3 other boys who were standing in line about 20 people in front of us. "What?" says one of the boys behind me, with contempt dripping from his words. "They think just because they are black, they can just go stand with other black people and that makes it OK? So I should be able to go all the way to the front of the line as long as I stand with other white people?" I turned around to see who was being so nasty, and there they were. A group of teenagers, all wearing bright green shirts with the name of their Baptist Church on the front (I'll refrain from calling it by name, even though I want to), and huge letters on the back that say "ARE YOU LOST? Someone is looking for you." and then some more words about Jesus and being saved. (I won't put it in quotes because I can't remember it exactly.) "Wow. That's more than a little ironic!" I thought to myself. "He's recruiting for Jesus, and he's mean. Nice combo." And since we had at least an hour to wait, I was lucky enough to hear more from this crew. There was one girl in the mix, and while she wasn't mean, she was incredibly obnoxious. For at least 45 minutes of the wait she would say things like this: "I'm going to punch you in the face. Come on! I keep challenging you to a fight, but you won't fight me. Let's go. Don't punch me hard! You can't frog me! Flat fist." And so on and so forth, all the while punching and goading the kid behind me. Apparently this was her version of flirting. It was as though she never grew out of the 3rd grade stage of the-harder-you-hit-me-the-more-you-like-me game. The boy would let her punch and insult him, and then he would punch her back, or put her in a head-lock, or whatever else he could think of, and the moment he would retaliate in any way shape or form, she would screech at the top of her lungs "GRAAAAAAAYYYYYYYSON!!!!!!! STOOOOOOP IT!!" Or she would give a short shriek: "GRAYSON!!!!!!". And then she would lambast him for doing exactly what she'd goaded him into doing in the first place, and it would begin all over again. Hit me, punch me, pinch me, chicken shit, are you really going into the marines you crybaby, GRAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYSSON!!!!!!!!!!! Needless to say, since I'd left my own 5 year old with someone else, I was weary of this young lady in less than 15 minutes. (Actually, it's unfair of me to compare her to Gibson. Gibson is much better behaved.) It was especially delightful when they would knock into me during their little wrestling matches. And then another boy in the group made a call on his cell phone. We'd been standing in line for about 30 minutes and pretty clearly had at least another 30 to go. His call went like this: "Yea, Hi. Listen, we are leaving Carowinds right now, but I'm soaking wet and I have to go home to change. It's going to make me late. Yea, yea. We're leaving right now, I'm just wet so I have to go home first and get some dry pants. Yea. Sorry man." I looked at him, and of course he was as dry as a bone. And I was standing there trying to figure out why he had to tell such a blatant lie -- in his Jesus shirt. Seriously. Why couldn't he just say something to the fact that the line was longer than they thought, but that they were over halfway there and really wanted to stick it out? At that point I had had my fill of the group behind me. And I have a very high tolerance for crazy behavior -- I am, after all, married to Mike. And lest you think that I am critical of teenagers, please let me point out that we were behind a group of teens that was in no way behaving as offensively as the group behind us.
Finally, after an hour and 15 minutes, we rode the Borg, had a blast, and left the church-group teens behind. (Though Mike and I talked about them the entire way over to meet up with Fran and our kids.) So here's what I'm wondering today...... Am I out of line in thinking that you should walk your talk? That perhaps, while you are parading around in your "you need to be saved!" t-shirt, and advocating/recruiting for Jesus, you shouldn't, at least at the same time, be an obnoxious A-Hole?
I was just standing in the bedroom trying to start a video for the boys. Sam, our 100 pound yellow lab, was standing behind me -- a little too close for comfort, if you get my drift. So, I glance over my shoulder and say to the dog: "Sam.... Will you please get your nose out of my butt?!" To which Gibson replies: "Well, probably he's just hungry."
We just spent a week at the beach. A nice, long relaxing week on the Carolina coast, complete with perfect temperatures and lots of sunshine. Relaxing days spent lounging in the sand, reading, and building castles. Relaxing mornings spent looking for shells on the shores of Cape Lookout. Relaxing afternoons spent playing in the waves, or paddling a canoe through a nature preserve to see the wild horses that live there. We even had relaxing dinners full of great food, fun conversation and good wine.
And then we decided to throw a game of putt-putt golf into the mix. Have you ever played 18 holes of putt-putt with 4 kids ages 5, 4, 3 and 2? Entertaining? Yes. Hilarious? You bet. Relaxing? No. Not really. In fact, not even close. It was chaos. Pure, out-and-out, unadulterated chaos.
Oh, the excitment was in the air the moment we walked in the door. The kids were buzzing with it. They each got their own club -- even my 2 year old neice, Rylie. Of course hers was of the plastic variety. But not the others. No sir. The rest of them got the real deal. And they also got to pick out their very favorite color of golf ball. Yes folks, the excitement was in the air when we left the clubhouse and headed for the course. I, in my obliviousness made sure to grab a score card and a pencil, and stopped to write each child's name in a slot.
Once we were out the door, our herd of stampeding kids went in one direction, and the 3 adults went in the other. ("Kids! Kids!!KIDS!!!!! Over here! No, not that way! THIS WAY!! Yes, I promise -- THIS is where we're supposed to start.") We somehow managed to get the stampede to stop, turn around, and head in our direction. Finally, we got them all lined up at the first hole. The first child stepped up to the line and putted, and then walked down the green toward the hole to fininsh his turn. All of a sudden, the rest of the kids were at the starting line and the shots were flying. And I was still delusional enough to think we would keep score. ("OK, how many was that for you Gibson? 20? Maddie? You got 18? Good Girl! Landis, Landis..... You can't just pick up the ball and put it in the hole. Start from here. Wait... Wait.... Gibson! Let it roll. Let it roll! Don't stop it! Wait.... Rylie! Honey! Don't bend over to get your ball if someone is swinging their club! Gibson! Don't swing your club if Rylie is getting her ball! Landis... How many for you? 23? Great! That may be a new putt-putt record! Wait!! Wait!! We're not going over there. Follow Uncle Josh. Follow Uncle Josh!") For the next 3 holes, I continued to diligently count strokes amid the shouting of instructions to the whirling dervish. It wasn't until my brother looked at me with a colossal amount of skepticism and said "Seriously?! You're keeping SCORE?" that I realized the futility of my task. I'm not sure where the scorecard and pencil ended up, or what I was even thinking in the first place, but I didn't have it with me on hole 5.
Throughout the 18 holes we did our best to implement some sort of structure to our undulating mass. "Let's all sit down! Let's take turns! Let's go one at a time! Let's wait until Maddie is done before we charge the starting line...." But regardless of how and what we tried, the end result was always the same: A wild, frenzied tangle of kids, all within striking distance of each other, swinging their metal clubs with absolute glee. And hard little golf balls going in every direction except the hole.
So, it wasn't relaxing. And maybe it was chaotic. But it sure was fun -- especially for the 4 sweaty little heads that skipped across the parking lot, climbed back into the mini-van and buckled into their car seats. And when you're 5, or 4, or 3, or 2, or even 34, isn't that what vacation should be about?
Until I started writing this little blog-here-thingy, I never really realized how much I like to write. Well you know what? I like to write. And I like to write about the crazy shit that happens in my household. A little humor goes a long way in helping me maintain my grip, You know? Can I get a "Holla'!"?