Is loud snoring a justifiable reason to wake someone up? My wife thinks so. On the first night in our luxury suite she tickled me awake about a dozen times in our rented bed. I know this sounds exciting, but it’s about as fun as having someone give you a wet willie without the benefit of a good ear cleaning. My daughter joined in on the fun by shouting that the sun was up many times before I could get to her room and unsuccessfully convince her that it was actually the moon shooting all those beams of light through her curtains. Unfortunately spring ahead didn’t go in effect until the next morning, so this was at 6:30 am while we were on vacation.
Being the trooper that I am, I didn’t let this slight inconvenience affect my positive attitude… once I had my complimentary bland coffee in me, that is.
On our first full day in Myrtle Beach we went to the Ripley’s Aquarium because when it comes to animals or fish, my kids are usually enthralled. Anything that keeps these over-energized little freeloaders occupied makes my wife and me happy.
The place has many cool exhibits, but I thought the circular shark tank was the best. It looked as though you could touch the menacing beasts, so I lifted the boy to the ceiling whenever a shark swam over our heads. I’m worried about him though, because he smiled just a little too much when his fingers scraped the glass.
Our interest was peaked when we noticed people pick up living things out of a tank in the middle of the room. It was decided, not by me, that I’d join in on the festivities so I reached in and picked up a seemingly alive creature. I told myself not to let them sense my fear. By them I meant my wife and kids and, of course, the prehistoric freaky looking Horseshoe Crab that was in my hands. Even though I was informed by the crab caretaker that it wouldn’t hurt me, I winced when its spiny legs tickled my hands. I know that my wife enjoyed seeing me vulnerable like this, but my daughter wouldn’t even look at me while I held it. Maybe she could tell that I was afraid and little girls aren’t supposed to see their Daddies cry. The boy liked it, but we didn’t let him get too close for the sake of the crab and we didn’t want to get kicked out.
After the tour of the aquarium ended we did what all responsible parents do; we went to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. What child doesn’t want to eat in an establishment that has a giant blender being filled with alcohol from a bottle that drops down out of a hurricane on the ceiling? That was rhetorical. It was actually a lot of fun, especially after my third margarita. Don’t judge me because it was the only way to get my hands to stop shaking.
Did you ever sit back and watch a couple of bear cubs rolling around on the ground tossing each other all over the dried leaves and broken sticks appearing as though they didn’t have a care in the world? I’m doing that exact thing, except they aren’t bear cubs, they’re my kids and they’re landing on toy cars and dog hair instead of leaves and sticks. I wish I could bottle the joy they get out of this, it would be more popular than crack, because the only downside is the exhaustion that eventually takes over and if you want more you don’t have to perform lewd acts or sell your parents’ iPod to get it because it just comes naturally.
They’ve been tackling each other on the kitchen floor for the past fifteen minutes taking the occasional break for me to kiss their latest boo-boo. Sometimes I can just blow them a kiss from across the room to keep the interruption to a minimum. I think the score is pretty even on who hurt who. This keeps my job as part-time moderator easier, because I don’t have to discipline one more than the other. The discipline hasn’t consisted of anything more than “Don’t hit your sister/brother” or “You’re squashing your sister/brother” and the occasional ruler across the knuckles.
I think that I get as much out of this as them, and I finally get to sit down. It makes me proud to know that my offspring doesn’t mind the occasional eye gouge, head bang, and knee in the back. It will prepare them for life and possibly for a career in the WWE. What father hasn’t wished their daughter could be a scantily clad wrestling diva or that their son might wear tiny little skivvies for a living? Yew (times two)! Whatever this leads to is irrelevant as long they wear each other out enough to let me stay on my keester a little while longer.
Indian summer invaded Western New York this week and we took advantage of it by heading to The Buffalo Zoo. The usual cast of characters went on the adventure sans dog, but Uncle and Aunt NJ joined in on the fun.
We waited until the boy woke from his nap to inform the most excited zoo goers where we were venturing to and then we told the kids. Our daughter ran around the house as excited as Mark Foley on Congress’s new page day, except hers was in good clean fun. The boy acted hyper too, but that was because he saw one of his cars on the floor, and little things like that excite him… just like his father.
Our daughter recognized the zoo’s sign when we arrived and told our guests that we were there. The kids liked the elephants and bears but our little girl was a little disappointed that the germ-infested petting zoo wasn’t open.
“Are the animals sleeping, Mommy and Daddy?”
“Some of them are, little one,” I said even though I really didn’t know if they were sleeping or vacationing in Des Moines, but I had to give her an answer.
We usually bring our lunch to the zoo to avoid the over-priced roller dogs and chicken(?) nuggets but we wanted to live life on the edge or we’re just lazy, so we ate there. The counter woman was slower than my mind could comprehend and she forgot to give us our fifty cents change back and just waited next to the already microwaved food much longer than necessary. Maybe she hoped Uncle NJ and I would forget about the two shiny quarters waiting to be transferred to my pocket. I asked her for the change when she got within shouting distance and she gave me a look, and then she proceeded to count out five little dimes and threw them at me (okay, she handed them to me with an unfeeling “sorry.”).
We sat at a pint-sized table across from the “jungle gym” and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. I thought that it’d be the same bad food that you get at most amusement type destinations, but I was wrong; the hot dogs were juicy, the cheeseburgers were tasty and the fries were hot and crispy.
The kids ate as much as can be expected while staring at the playground so we cleaned everyone up with wet wipes and headed where they wanted to go. This is a great entertainer for the kids who need a break from staring at animals from the other side of a fence or window. Here they can act like the little animals that they are.
Our daughter’s a pro at this place so she ran up into the snake tube without looking back, but my son always stays on the ground floor and plays with the steering wheels and tic-tac-toe type of things. This time was different, he worked his way up the staggered cushioned steps and went to the slide and slid right down. I beamed with delight, the proud dad of a boy without fear. This came back to haunt me a couple minutes later when young Mr. Fearless went back up the steps. This time he skipped the slide and moved on to bigger and better things, the snake tube. This thing can be a parent’s worst nightmare because most adults don’t fit up there and would have a tough time retrieving a child that’s unwilling to come down on their own. We experienced this at a fast-food restaurant’s playground last year with our daughter. It took forever for her to come down after much pleading, threatening and bribing from quite a distance away.
We watched our boy with a combination of horror and delight as he entered into the tunnel behind a group of older kids. Any other kid up there at the time was an older kid so he wanted to do what they were doing. He disappeared from our sight immediately and we hoped for the best. My wife, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law waited by the slide hoping that the boy would come tumbling down soon. Instead, we noticed a bottleneck at the tube entrance and came to the conclusion that something, make that someone, was stuck in there. The sun shined through the plastic cylinder and revealed a 32-inch body unsuccessfully trying to ascend deeper up the tube. We could tell that it wasn’t going to happen. Before we argued over who’d go get him, I knew I wouldn’t fit; my wife found our daughter and gave her a mission.
“Go and help your little brother out of the tube, please,” my wife pleaded.
Before we knew it, my wife and her crew could here a little girl’s voice coming out of the slide.
“This is my brother and I have to bring him to my mommy and daddy.”
Then I heard the same thing on my end and I could see my strong little girl pulling on a leg in the tube. She looked at an older girl and determinedly explained the situation to her. The five-year-old looked at her with a “get a move on” expression. I think she wanted to get in the tube and was sick of waiting. My son was successfully removed from the tube a few seconds later, feet first, of course.
“Good job, little one,” I said.
She smiled at me and went back in the tube. Our son sat there enjoying the moment with a huge grin on his face. I think he knew what he was doing. I hurried up the rope ladder and brought him down by us for good. We didn’t need to go through this a second time. Especially since some of those little kids seemed pretty upset that someone blocked their path to parental freedom.
We were very proud of our three-year-old daughter coming through in the clutch that we promised to get her something at the gift shop on our way out. This is a big thing for her because we’ve only bought something there once or twice in all of the times we’ve been there.
We watched the Macaques for quite a while because they were climbing trees, fences and each other and then we saw the giraffes, which our daughter loves. They were far away from the viewing area this time so it wasn’t as awe-inspiring.
When it was time to leave our daughter joined my wife on a quest to find a souvenir. After much contemplation and mind changing she settled on a stuffed penguin she named Penny. The funny thing is that there aren’t any penguins at this zoo.
Like usual the children did not disappoint us on this family outing. They find ways to make things fun and memorable… I think we’ll keep them.