Family Holidays should be a time for children and parents to reconnect outside of their regular routine and for those of us whose kids go to daycare it is time to find out what they are really like. For some reason although you have 24 hours a day together during a holiday it is always the necessities of life like eating and sleeping that become an enormous struggle for one main reason, you have abandoned your routine. The routine of paying someone else to look after them, while you work which most of the time feels like a vacation from your child. I think the only reason we take a family holiday is to escape the relentless drudgery of doing the same thing at the same time every day over and over again, and also to make us appreciate the life we have created and that routines are good even if they are boring.
We also have shopping to do, so when I arrived in Boston, Nana, Eva and I went off to the Apple store so I could have the keyboard on my laptop replaced after Eva the toddler turned computer eating tiger destroyed several keys. The young man at the genius desk returned with bad news,
“I am sorry Mame, but your computer is what we now term – vintage, and we can no longer replace parts.”
In the same sentence he called me Mame and called my computer vintage. I was left reeling by multiple disappointments.
“So what you are telling me is I have no choice but to buy a new laptop.”
I felt like an insurance company that had just been told its client was going to have to undergo an organ transplant. I wish toddlers came with a warning alarm, one that would sound when they were about to cause you $3000 dollars in damage. Eva the pretend tiger was getting a lot less cute by the minute.
This horrible realization was made worse when the Apple genius bar tech called all his friends around to look at the dinosaur computer I had brought in.
“Take a look at this machine, it has about 30 seconds of battery life.”
“What year is that from?”
“2008” I say preempting their About this Mac search.
“Look,” one tech says to the other, “ She has no apps on her computer!!!!”
“Listen boys, I know I am old, and my computer is old but I have never had any problems with it.”
“They are built to last.” one of them answered.
“It’s that over there I have problems with.” I say pointing at Eva with Nana playing with the apple ipads on display on the Kids table.
“Are you sure you want her playing with your ipads?”
They walked me through the specs of my hypothetical new laptop, hypothetical because I had no idea where the $3000 was going to come from or when.
When we finished Nana and I had to pry Eva off of the ipad where she had discovered the kids app “Endless alphabet” which helps you learn letters and spell different words and had the unexpected bonus of increasing her vocabulary which I discovered when trying to feed her dinner that night.
We gave up and ended up going out to eat at Legal’s seafood. They gave me a kid’s menu but I ordered Eva a meal off of the adult menu since she preferred real food to pasta and fish sticks, and maybe just maybe mommy was schooling Eva to be a food snob in the fine tradition of food snobs in the Spurling family.
I ordered her smoked salmon with toast points, and Mussels for myself. In an unpredictable toddler rage, she began shrieking at the top of her lungs, making the nearby childless diners grimace and wince and cut their eyes in our direction. If I could have anticipated her screaming fit, if I could have done anything to prevent it,
I would have. So Instead I cut my eyes back at the wincing childless diners next door. I later discovered through sobs that I had done something terrible. I was guilty of precipitating the toddler rage because I used the blanket attached to her bunny to wipe up a spot of milk she had dripped on my lap. Well I won’t do that again.
This scenario and in fact the whole trip, made me realize the problem with toddlers, you can’t lock them inside, nor can you take them out in public, so you do each equally and terribly hoping to spread out the torture of other people’s ear drums.
My solution is that when I am old and grumpy and don’t want to be around children, I will not choose to go out to dinner at a family restaurant like Legal’s seafood, and I will certainly think twice about trying to catch the early bird. There are so many thousands of restaurants in cities like Boston, if you can’t take the screeching choose somewhere else. People without children have plenty of choice, but those of us with kids are limited to restaurants with kiddy menus and highchairs- there aren’t nearly as many or even enough.
And my darling Eva just to be unpredictable for unpredictability’s sake sat on my lap and ate my entire order of mussels and I got stuck with the salmon. Our waitress brought her, her very own seafood bib, and she moved up a ranking in food snobbery. She will soon be coming out with bumper stickers that say “Say No to Fish Sticks.”
The other thing with toddlers is that like horse and miniature daschschunds, they need to be exercised and when visiting a city, you have to find the nearest park. The next day Nana, Eva and I decided to head down to Boston Common to find the free yoga class Nana had spotted on a flyer. We hadn’t read the fine print and missed the yoga class by 24 hours so we found a grassy spot and did a little bit of stretching ourselves.
Our yoga class soon turned into sprint training, when Eva realized that there was miles of green space where she could out run her mother. When I was close to exhaustion a man appeared with enormous magic wands and began blowing bubbles the size of me, and sending them floating in the sky over the park. Like the Pied Piper children flocked around him as he dipped his wands in buckets of bubble juice and sent them off chasing bubbles from big to small and everything in between. Eva’s eyes lit up and she chased the bubbles around with all the big kids for at least thirty minutes while I tried to make sure she didn’t run out into oncoming traffic, and trailed behind her apologizing to all the little boys she mowed over chasing a bubble- there were a few.
When it approached twilight and the bubble man had had enough, he started to pack up and I took Eva up to him and asked her to say Thank You.
“Thank you for the bubbles” came a little voice.
Then in an instant he made my entire holiday when he said,
“Your little girl, she will go far in life because she is so persistent.”
“Yes that is her to a T, you can tell that just from bubbles?”
“ Yes, I see children all the time, and very very rarely do you see a little one like her, I have only seen a few myself over the years.”
“You are just saying that because I look tired.”
“No, its true, she will go far.”
I know he is just a bubble man, not a child psychologist but it made my toddler induced exhaustion bearable and it was a lot better than getting eye cutting glares from other people. Yeah! For the bubble man.
I also asked him to tell me his secret recipe, which he did, for the perfect Bubble Mixture:
Here it is:
1 Part Dawn (Classic)
1/4 Part Vegetable Glycerin
1/4 Part J&J Baby Shampoo
12 Parts water
On humid days use 13 to 14 parts water
How to make:
put into container hot water
gently add and mix the Dawn, Glycerin, Shampoo
best if left uncovered one day before use
For the rest of our time in Boston, we hit Marshall’s a tourist attraction if you are from Bermuda, but also made time to go to the Boston Aquarium. There were more people there than there were fish but we were able to satisfy Miss Eva’s craving to see a shark. We found a perfect spot in the window of the large several story coral tank, at the top where we could watch the sharks lap the tank and the enormous turtle taking a nap on a coral bed. Eva was frightened by a fish which swam right by her head, and I think she in turn frightened the fish, but it made for a fun day out even if Eva refused to pat a sting ray but insisted that mommy pat one instead.
The following day when Daddy and Pops flew in from Bermuda, we went for a duck tour and they had to detour our route because of the annual Puerto Rican parade, so after we got off the duck boat, we walked a few streets over to catch the parade.
“ I feel like we haven’t left Bermuda.” I said watching the majorettes.
“I always wanted to be a majorette in primary school but my mother wouldn’t let me. In Hindsight I think she must have known I would have been really really bad at it.” I thought as I watched the young girls in tight sequined jumpsuits twirl batons.
“We watched a parade back in March when we visited Madeira.” Nana said.
“ Really, was it anything like this one?”
“What was it like?”
“Well, I was a bit shocked.” Nana Giggled.
“The Madeira people paraded down the street, not with floats or cars or majorettes but enormous paper Mache penises.”
“Really! “ I giggled
“Like a Bacchanalia?”
“ I couldn’t really believe it myself, but there were huge effigies of the penis.”
Eva looked up and pointed and yelled “Penis! “
She has a point I thought, especially as the parade went on and on, the cars got bigger and bigger and the sound systems got bigger and bigger and louder and louder and louder. I wonder if the paper Mache penises got bigger and bigger too. Certainly the final car that came through, even though I didn’t have my measuring stick out ,was very impressive… Check out my phone snap below, yes those are speakers. Yes it was loud. Yes there were men driving it.
Then Eva announced
“I have to go pee pee.” So I weaved her through the crowds to the Lennox Hotel and used their bathroom. Eva took her undies off and then very loudly told me,
“You and I are girls so we pee like this.” And she squatted in the stall.
“But Boys pee like this with a penis” She whipped out her imaginary penis and held it over the toilet bowl then shook it dry.
“Yes you are right Eva.” I said wondering if it were me, Nana, or Endless Alphabet who had taught her the anatomical name for the male appendage but what did it matter she was building her vocabulary. At least Eva wasn’t a repressed Catholic.
The next day we drove up to my parents house in New Hampshire: mountains, quiet, bliss = no cell phone reception.
When we arrived Eva said, “ I remember here, there is an orange and green froggy potty.”
“Really?” I said.
I hunted around the house, and what did I find in one of the bathrooms, but an orange and green froggy potty. She was right. Now I believed the Bubble man- my child is brilliant, she remembers the color of the Froggy potty she used a year ago. Sign her up for Junior Jeopardy.
The only thing missing from our week in New Hampshire was sleep, because we decided to put Eva in a big girl bed with protective sides. Looking back it was probably a mistake but what followed was a week of not napping, not wanting to go to bed and frequent night wakings paired with early morning rises. Holiday? Send me back to work.
Sleep deprived Eva loses all of her charitable nature and so she became a fussing Mommy hater, insisting that Daddy put her to bed, sit next to her, and otherwise become her sole parent and entire world. I would try to put her to bed but she would scream until Daddy came running, we would switch places and then she would look at me with her big blue bossy eyes and point at me from the crook of her Daddy’s arm.
“ You, You go downstairs and on your way out turn off the lights and shut the door.”
“Yes Mame.” I answered and Little Eva nestled into her favorite person in the world.
Later on, I said to Chris, “I think Eva is your soul mate and you must have known each other in a past life.”
Nana said, “That could be true.”
“Who is my soul mate then?” I asked.
Chris without hesitation answered, “Your soul mate is Piccolo.”
“That could be true.” I said imagining my overweight aging Miniature dachshund who spoons me every night at home.
“I miss him.”
A few days later we went to the summer festival at The Fells, a historic house, and park. We patted Alapacas, and built a fairy house. Eva learned how to paint watercolors with real food, using black berries and spinach to create dies and paint a picture on a card. Then she frosted a cookie with spinach frosting, and devoured it. We waited and waited and finally the Face painter arrived, and Eva patiently waited her turn to be metamorphosed into a tiger. When we got home horseplay went to another level. I became the Tiger’s prey, and Eva stalked me around the house continually, catching me off guard and sinking her teeth into my leg and arm flesh.
The next day was my birthday. I woke up with Strep throat- it had returned. The night before I asked my husband to bring me coffee in bed in case he wouldn’t think of it. Before we had Eva, Chris used to bring me coffee in bed every morning, but our life is different now. My birthday morning started off on a caffeine high with little Eva coming to jump on my bed and give me her present. I unwrapped it, and it was a hot pink Bermuda t-shirt.
“Thank you little Eva.”
She smiled proudly.
“Mommy and Eva can dress in matching pink for mommy’s birthday.”
“Yes” she replied.
Eva is obsessed with pink, if anything I encouraged the opposite. Her favorite colors in the past were purple and red, but now that she has settled on pink, everything has to be pink. She will only wear pink and if I try and dress her in something else she complains,
“But Green isn’t my favorite.”
I used to hate pink, but not anymore, now I accept it and even wear it if it will make her happy. Later on, on my birthday I ordered a bright pink dress for myself off the internet to make Eva happy. I also added a wonder woman bathing suit, because even if I don’t feel like a super hero, I might as well dress like one. It was my present to myself.
When I came downstairs my in-laws gave me their birthday gift. An ionic hairbrush, promising : brilliant shine with active frizz control ionic generator, releasing conditioning ions directly into the hair to remove static and smooth the cuticle for noticeably softer hair that looks and feels, shiny and manageable.
Yes my hair really is that bad, to brush it I need something with an on and off switch. They used to call me: Hairzilla in college. Those were the days. Some people’s hair thins when they get older, I think mine has just gotten worse, added by the infrequency of having time to wash it.
Their gift inspired me to tackle the mane, and I retreated with an army of bobby pins in an attempt to style my hair in pin curls, let them dry for seven hours, then brush them out with the ionic hairbrush and wala… I would reappear more Lauren Bacall than Hairzilla.
We didn’t do much on my birthday, we took the trash out, filled up with gas for the return trip and took Eva to the playground, and on the way back stopped off at the graveyard, just the way to make me feel every year of my thirty eight, and in pin curls no less!
When we got home I told Eva that Bunny was going to make mommy a birthday cake, but unfortunately Bunny didn’t know how to bake yet, mommy hadn’t taught her.
Later on I tried to brush out the pin curls, and a few minutes and a lot of static later I looked exactly the same as Lauren Bacall- Nope- not even close, I looked exactly the same as I did the day before.
“I think this hair needs a professional.” I said to my disappointed family.
“I just have too much hair.”
The next day we drove back to Boston, when we got back to the apartment I started the never ending process of unpacking and repacking. At some point in this process I managed to knock the bottle of hot pink nail polish my mother had leant us for the trip to paint Eva’s nails with, and it shattered on the bathroom floor, splashing me from head to toe in hot pink paint spray. Unfortunately nail polish is not meant to be easily removed, so I sighed and accepted my new splattered look as part of my derelict mom décor.
A little while later the concierge called up to the apartment.
“Hello, this is Shucredev downstairs, I was calling to let you know that we just received a very important federal express package addressed to you from Pin Up Girl Clothing.”
… Pin Up Girl Clothing… I sighed. You know as a mincing nosy front desk man, he took pleasure in making calls like these and imagining what kind of whips and chains were inside.
“Would you like me to bring that up to you, or would you like to collect it.”
“I will collect it thank you.”
When I went downstairs, I had the elevator ride down eight floors to contemplate how sometimes people just get the wrong idea about things. I looked down at myself, covered in splattered hot pink nail polish, called “Kiss Me I’m Brazilian.” If I drew his attention to it, Shucredev might have been able to recognize the shade. As I felt for the edges of my hair to see in what direction it was frizzing and I kept finding stray bobby pins in my hair suggesting some previous attempt at decorum. Then I looked over my arms, legs, and neck, every visible area of skin was covered in bites, not mosquito bites but human bites, from a toddler impersonating a tiger. I could have tried to cover up the bite marks up with band aids, but all we had, were- you guessed it- hot pink Peppa Pig plasters—and I figured covering myself in those would do more to draw attention to my wounds than to distract. Looking at my reflection in the elevator door, it occurred to me that I looked like I had spent the last two weeks in some kinky sex camp instead of on a family Holiday with Eva’s grandparents. I couldn’t wear a turtle neck in August, like we used to do as a teenagers when we came home with hickies from an eventful date. I could have covered myself in concealer but I didn’t have the time or effort left after the last two weeks with Eva and the last time I bought make up was in 2005.
I approached the front desk.
“I have come to pick up my package.”
Shucredev went hunting through the Land’s End, LL Bean and Talbot’s packages.
“Ahah, here it is, one package from Pin Up Girl Clothing.”
I saw him feel the package up, trying to discern its contents.
“It’s a wonder woman bathing suit.” I said satisfying his curiosity but disappointing him as well in some way. But he still had plenty of time to wonder about the bite marks.
The next day we flew home. When we arrived, Hamma and Gigi greeted us,
“How was the trip, did you have a good time?”
“We had a great time, Eva cost me a 3000 dollar laptop, She bit me, ruined my reputation at Trinity Place and she might have left a scar.” I say pointing to my neck.
“What did you expect, you went on a Family Holiday.” Gigi said.
“We have made you dinner, come over with Eva tonight for your birthday cake.”
Derelict Gigi had really pulled out all the stops, she might even have missed us.
“Hurrah we are home and Bunny learned to bake! “ I said.
A couple days later when my wounds had healed and the hot pink nail polish had flaked off my skin, I asked Chris, “So where are we going next year?”
Xx Derelict Mom.