Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Family Fun Time

I made an interesting discovery this weekend. Apparently, there IS a limit to the amount of “family fun” you can cram into one weekend. I love my family. However, it appears that three days of constant togetherness is more than the five of us can handle. On Saturday, we took the kids to Minnehaha Falls. We oohed and aahed over the waterfall. We hiked back the trail a bit. We let the kids take off their shoes and splash around in the creek. We walked down and then back up more steps that any human being should be forced to endure. Afterwards, we took the kids out for ice cream…to counteract any possible health benefits we garnered from climbing all those steps, of course. That evening, my sisters came over for a small, impromptu cook-out. Sunday, we took the kids swimming at Lake Nokomis and went to the fireworks that evening. Up to that point, a good time was had by all. It was a perfectly pleasant weekend. On Monday, however, we pushed it a bit too far. We should have taken a cue from the kids. We should have noticed the exhaustion in one another’s eyes. We should have realized that children who stay up until 11:00pm watching fireworks…AND who get up at their usual 6am the following morning…are going to be tired and crabby and incapable of controlling their emotions. We should have also realized that moms who have spent two days running themselves ragged trying to provide a “fun” holiday weekend for their children would also be tired and cranky and incapable of controlling their emotions. Unfortunately, we did not come to this realization until after we packed all three children into the van and dragged them to the Minnesota Zoo for more family fun! Woo-hoo!

If you haven’t already figured out where this story is going, let me get you there quickly. Our trip to the zoo was pure, unadulterated hell. First and foremost, it was extremely hot and humid. Muggy as hell. As I alluded to in a previous post, I don’t handle the heat very well these days. As a matter of fact, the heat makes me downright crabby. The combination of my heat-induced crankiness and my children’s sleep-deprivation-induced whininess was more than any of us could handle. It began with Lucas and the crocodiles. He was excited to see the new Faces of Africa exhibit because they had crocodiles on the trail now. Lucas loves crocodiles. As a matter of fact, he is enamored of any and all large, predatory creatures. He first saw the crocodile skulls they had on exhibit…the large Nile crocodile, the much smaller Dwarf crocodile, and the strange long-nosed crocodile whose name escapes me at the moment. To Lucas’ utter dismay and disappointment, the zoo only had the dwarf variety of crocodiles on display. “Where are the Nile crocodiles?!” Lucas whined. “They don’t have Nile crocodiles?!” At that point, Lucas was completely and unceremoniously done with the zoo. From that point on, he whined. He complained. He irritated everyone in sight. Personally, I thought the crocodiles were pretty dang cool. Any other child would have been excited to see them. Only my son would complain because the zoo did not have the right kind of crocodiles!

After the crocodile debacle, it was Nicholas’ turn to show his true colors. It began with the stroller. Yes, it’s true that we probably do not need to take a stroller to the zoo since our babies are now four years old. However, it is quite handy to carry our lunches. Plus, regardless of their age, my kids get whiny when they have to do a lot of walking around. Nicholas, particularly, is rather of fond of his stroller. He sat in his stroller for the first half of the Tropics Trail, perfectly content with an obstructed view of the animals. Finally, halfway through the trail, something caught his eye and he removed himself from the stroller. Of course, the minute he got up, Lucas’ legs were suddenly “so tired” that he had to sit down…right in Nicholas’ stroller seat. Nicholas immediately threw himself on the ground and began crying. Lucas had invaded his space. Never mind that there was a perfectly fine empty seat in the double-wide stroller right next to Lucas. Nicholas wanted HIS seat. Of course, since this momma was hot and cranky, I immediately began berating Lucas about weighing 50+ pounds and being entirely too heavy to ride in a stroller. I told him that he looked absolutely ridiculous, as a lanky seven-year-old, being pushed around in a tiny stroller with his knees practically touching his ears. Of course, Lucas thought that he had every right to ride in the stroller if Sophie and Nicky got to ride in it. Being hot, sweaty, and NOT wanting to push a 50-pound kid around the zoo, I heartily disagreed with him. I might have pushed the limits of crankiness at this point. I suspect that I crossed that fine line between cranky and downright bitchy because Ruanita pretty much stopped talking to me sometime around this time.

After convincing Nicholas to remove himself from the ground and get back in the stroller, we briefly went outside to the playground. Being that it was so hot, I thought the kids would enjoy running through the water fountains near the playground. I warned the kids to close their eyes and I ran through the fountains with the stroller. Bad idea. Lucas and Sophie giggled with glee. Nicholas, however, found NO humor in the situation. As a matter of fact, he immediately burst into tears. Apparently, his shoes….his waterproof Teva sandals….had gotten wet, much to his displeasure. He was not concerned about his hair or his face being wet…but his shoes?! What can I say…my son is an odd duck. I eventually convinced him to get out of the stroller and come to the playground. However, we were only there a total of about 10 minutes before I flipped out and loudly announced that I couldn't take the heat any longer. We then returned to the air conditioned indoors and sat down to eat the lunches we brought from home. After a bit of food and a lot of water, my crankiness began to dissipate. However, we decided that we had pushed the family fun too far. We were tired of the zoo and frankly, probably feeling rather done with one another by that point. We told the kids we would see the rest of the zoo next time (we’re members, so we can go anytime we want), and we packed everyone back in the van to head home. The twins immediately fell asleep before we even exited the parking lot, proof positive that they were too tired to have been carted off to the zoo. When we got home, the kids watched movies and played the Wii. We vegged out the remainder of the day…exactly what we should have done from the start.

Moral of the story: Family togetherness is nice, but as with all things…in moderation.


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