Saturday, February 22, 2014

Feral French Fry Children of the Pacific Northwest and Other Tales of Travel Woe

Brian tends to travel in spurts for work. Sometimes he travels a lot. Sometimes just a little. Sometimes he knows about the trips weeks in advance. Sometimes he doesn't.

When he tells me about trips I feel the panic start to rise in my throat. My neck veins get bulgy. I say bad words in my head. Sometimes I sit at home and ugly cry while the kids tear the house apart. Sometimes I can be proactive and plan as many activities as possible into the days I have to fill. This will also result in ugly crying, BUT, I will be tired, and so will the kids, so with any luck they will fall asleep faster which means I will have more time to watch Grey's Anatomy and each chocolate and ugly cry without an audience.

Some of the activities I allow my children to participate in might make you ugly cry. They might make you shake your head and think, "oh dear what is she thinking?" I'm thinking my husband travels/works a lot and I need a small amount of sanity.

Don't let yourself be shamed by the "parenting police." Go right on with your bad self and fear not the judgement of others.

Successful steps to solo parenting.

Step 1: 
Go to McDonalds. Before you get all high and mighty on me chill out. They have a free play area, PLUS the germs are free too. You can go when its raining and gross outside but your kids are all crazy and whiny and weird and need to run with a pack of feral children. Also they have free wi fi. Kids get their ya yas out and you can play candy crush without using any data.Win. Win.

Also strangely their coffee isn't too bad. Buy a cup and let the kids loose.

Step 2: 
Proceed to your local library. Allow your children who are now hopped up on french fries and buzzing with plastic slide electric static to peruse the children's section. While you are at it try and find a self help book for coping with feral children addicted to french fries. Note to self, write book about feral french fry children of the Pacific Northwest. 

If possible go to a library that you don't normally go to.  My kids know when I tell them we are going to the library with fish that I'm bringing out the big guns. The library with the fish tank is slighter bigger than our local one, PLUS it has fish. Never underestimate the power of three beta fish in a fish tank. Aquatic creatures + children= 30 seconds of uninterrupted silence. Mesmerizing I tell ya.

Let the kids check out some new books or maybe even a DVD to extend your sanity hours. Our library also has an evening story hour which we checked out once and it was nice. I should say it would have been nice if Wes didn't keep going up and trying to play with the story time ladies props.

 I mean, to be fair, she had puppets. Puppets, in full view of children.

Evidently the allure of puppets is entirely too much for my children. Wes heard their siren song and couldn't resist a good puppet romp. Story time puppet lady wasn't game. Lesson learned.

We are currently seeking a puppet free story time if you have any leads. Also we might be blacklisted. Note to self, research blacklist status for story time. 

Step 3: 
Go to a pet store. We go to Pet Smart a lot. We don't have any pets. I haven't even bought anything there, which up until now I hadn't felt overly guilty about, but I'm sort of starting to the more I think about it. I shamelessly bring my children into Pet Smart to view the animals. We check out the birds, cats, lizards, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs and then when we have had our fill of scales and fur we leave.

Every once in awhile Jack brings up the idea of a pet and I quickly remind him that Daddy is allergic to all animals. It makes things easier. Mostly I'm lying, but its a protective lie so it doesn't count. I'm protecting my floors, my lawn, and my sanity.

Maybe next time we are there we will buy some tennis ball dog toys for me to throw to the kids at the park and I won't feel so bad.

Step 4: 
Put children to bed. Engage in nonsensical yet seemingly necessary bed time rituals that border on OCD so that your children will go to sleep.

Everyone have their special blanket? Check.

Jack do you have 97 stuffed animals in your bed arranged in order of number of legs? Check.

Wes do you have 56 toy cars that will leave marks on your face while you try and sleep in your crib of hard metal wheels? Check.

Night lights on? Check.

Damn starry night turtle have batteries and on AND changed so that it projects ONLY blue stars? Check.

Everyone had the appropriate amount of kisses, hugs, pats? Check.

Everyone have water for all that aerobic sleep you intend on having? Check.

Go to bed. So simple it only took me three hours.

Step 5: 
Do not watch scary TV or movies. Maybe don't even watch TV. Maybe just knit or read a book or go to bed.

I know you won't listen to me and I know you will watch them anyway. Then like me you will awaken in the middle of the night and think you see a small person attempting to burglarize your home. You will reach for the nearest weapon which in this case happens to be the TV remote.

Why is it that this is the only time I can find the damn thing?

Armed with your remote, you decide you are too scared to do anything right away so you hide under your covers and make a mental note that you don't really have anything horrifically expensive. I mean it was a smallish person so they can't carry too much stuff right? Isn't this why we have renters insurance? Suddenly you feel pretty righteous for having made those payments on time each month. You are so smart.

When you can no longer breathe in any more hot blanket air, you ever so slowly peek out of the covers. The smallish person is still crouching in corner except now their head is bobbing around. Dear God, I have a drunken smallish person attempting to rob me.

Remote in hand, you ninja roll out of your bed and discover that the quite small person attempting to rob you is actually the vacuum and a small helium balloon the children have discarded.

 I don't know how to explain to you how terrifying it is to awaken to a smallish person with a bobbing head lurking in the corner of your room is, but its alarming enough to wish that your remote had a taser feature. Note to self, invent remote with a taser feature. Become a millionaire. Buy an island. The end. 

When Brian comes home we are all so happy and relieved to see him.  While I watch the kids clamber over him to give over due kisses and hugs, I feel a sense of peace and calm start to wash over me. With renewed spirits I look around and see shrunken helium balloons, dishes in the sink, stray french fries and children with no pants. "It's best to not ask any questions, OK?" He nods and just like that balance is restored to our universe.

Phew! We made it!