Saturday, August 20, 2011

Even Though I Hate Amusement Parks

It's been a really busy week, so that's why I haven't been able to post until now, Friday night, when nobody will read this.  Oh, well.

Some of our best friends from the East Coast came to visit for a few days, so we did all kinds of fun family stuff with them; and in between and during our excursions I wrote posts for other sites, and tried to take care of some nagging "real world" issues as well.  It was great to see our friends, and our girls loved hanging out with the "big kids," their grade-school age girls.

During most of the time our friends were here, we were able to relax, catch up, and let the kids entertain themselves.  But every once in a while, worlds collided, and things got a little hectic.  Our trip to Legoland, for instance, was a bit touch-and-go at times.  (Of course, almost nothing could have spoiled the trip, since the admission was FREE, thanks to my friend Beth at San Diego MOMfia!)

The night before we were to go to Legoland, which is about a 40-minute drive from our house, our friends' older daughter had an orthodontic emergency that would require professional attention before we could set out.  We were afraid this might seriously cut into our amusement park time; but miraculously, they were able to make an early appointment at an office a couple blocks from our house, and the doc took care of the equipment malfunction in a matter of seconds.

But even before the orthodontist appointment, my friend, the father of the kid with the broken gear in her mouth, had called from somewhere in town--he wasn't quite sure where--with some gear problems of his own.  See, back in Virginia, we had been big biking buddies; and whenever we get together, we try to go for a bike ride for old times' sake.  Well, this time, it didn't quite work out that way.  But he did manage to take my road bike out for a couple spins in the mornings while I was dealing with kids or sleeping off my late night blogging.

So he calls from somewhere along the route we had figured out for him, and a bolt on the seat of the bike has broken, so he's riding around with no saddle--just hovering over the seatpost.  I'm all, "What's the big deal?  Just sack up and ride home out of the saddle!"  But he wants somebody to pick him up.  So I'm trying to get out of the house amidst the early morning chaos to pick his lame ass up, but by the time I'm ready to leave, he calls and says he has found a way to strap the saddle back onto the bike.  His solution is elegant, and eerily reminiscent of the way I finished a mountain bike race with a broken saddle about 15 years ago.  

At this point, it looks like this outing is charmed.  We've already dodged two bullets before 10:30 a.m., so the rest should be cake.

We sail smoothly to our destination, our drive seemingly shortened by my friend's indulging me as I explain to him all the latest drama in the blogosphere.  At least it goes quickly for me.  My friend checks his watch a lot.

As we pull into the lot at Legoland, I hear a chorus of horrified "Ohhhhhh"s from the back seat of the van.  Then my wife announces that our eldest (by a minute) has vomited all over herself and her car seat.  And then another synchronized "Ohhhhh," followed by a tiny, plaintive, "Tissue?"

We park, clean up the barfer as best we can, and continue on our fun-quest.

Legoland is pretty awesome for little kids.  Really, it's probably great for any kid that teen angst has not yet enveloped.  Our kids play in the massive playgrounds, go on a couple little rides, splash around in the little water park (they have a full-on water park too, but we don't go there), and do everything they can to thwart our attempts to keep them out of the intricate displays of Lego engineering marvels.  Everyone has a blast, and there are no real meltdowns, even though our kids miss their naps.  The food is even pretty decent, and not outrageously priced.

This was one of the best parts:

After lunch, I get a call from our friend who was supposed to take Stella for a walk, and he has locked himself and our dog out of our house.  I prepare to panic, but realize that he just lost the key to our house, not to his car, so he can take Stella home with him and I can pick her up later. 

Still feeling pretty charmed, we stroll through the new Star Wars exhibit, and then check out the amazing miniature cities, which include, ironically, miniature versions of the miniature versions of New York and Paris within the miniature version of Las Vegas.

But I'm feeling a little anxious, because I've got stupid slumlord issues nagging at me.

One of the reasons I couldn't get it together to borrow another bike so I could ride with my friend, and indeed one of the reasons I didn't really have the energy to go for a ride, was because of a leaky pipe in one of the units at our money pit investment property.  If you've been reading for a while, you might be familiar with this apartment's checkered, sometimes gruesome history.  If it could talk, you would definitely want to cover your children's ears.

The pipe had been leaking for a week or so, but only enough to get the carpet in the closet below a little damp.  And the paint was peeling because of the moisture in the wall.  I know, I KNOW.  I was dragging my feet.  The tenants didn't act like it was a big deal, so I just pretended it would fix itself.  I knew in my heart of hearts I would eventually be opening up the wall and ceiling to get at the leak, and I wasn't in a big hurry to do so.

But then the tenants called during the weekend, while our guests were here, to say that the carpet was now soaked and the wall was mushy.  I went over and started tearing out wet sheetrock.

Good times
It wasn't too hard to figure out that the leak was coming from a tub drain in one of the upstairs units, but it took me about four hours to clear out all the wet, moldy sheetrock and insulation and haul it out in garbage bags.

The job of replacing the drain (looks simple, but it's actually two tubs draining into one larger pipe in a really constricted space) looked like just the kind of thing that would make me lose my mind and probably drive all of the tenants out of the building with my profanity-laden rage.  So I called a plumber (friend of a friend) and made arrangements for him to check it out while we were at Legoland.
I just didn't want anything to do with this
The plumber calls me around 5:00, while we're strolling by Lego New Orleans, to tell me that he needs access to the one upstairs apartment where the tenant is still at work. I call the tenant, leave a message explaining the situation, call the plumber back, and try to figure out a way for him to get a hold of my keys to the apartment so he can get in while the tenant is still at work.  Again with the keys!

Before I get very far on that, though, the tenant from upstairs calls back and says she doesn't want anybody snooping around her apartment while she's not there.  WHAT THE FUCK?! THIS IS A PLUMBING EMERGENCY!!!  Fair enough, I say.  I'll just pay the plumber to sit in his truck and wait for you to get home.

Did I mention the diarrhea?  During the time the plumber drama is unfolding, the kids have been depleting their diaper supply at the rate of two per hour per kid.  We suspect it has something to do with guzzling the recirculated water from the toddler water park.  Eventually we have to go to the first aid station and bum some extra diapers. 

Having fun between diaper changes
Pushing through the discomfort
Finally we call it quits and head home, stopping at a brew-pub/restaurant for dinner.  Our  kids, tired and hungry, are freaking out.  Of course that's when the plumber calls back with his report.

Turns out the tenant came home and let him in, and he fixed the leak.  I sneak away from the screaming kids and over to the van so I can have some privacy to give him my credit card info and settle up the bill.

Dinner is pretty good and the kids get their second wind and run all over the restaurant, squealing and performing stunts that I'm sure everyone finds adorable and not annoying at all.

When we come back to the parking lot, I see that the interior lights of the van are on.  I had futzed around with the lights when I was negotiating with the plumber, and had left the switch in the wrong position.  I had also, a couple months ago, pooh-poohed the service manager at the shop where I got the rig serviced, who warned me that the battery was about to die.  They wanted $200.00 for a $50.00 battery, so I was all phht--I can pick one up at Pep Boys and install it in ten minutes.  And maybe I will some day.

Despite my totally deserving to have a dead battery, the van starts up and we hit the road. 

We get home and the girls are not just asleep in their car seats, but limp as ragdolls.  We pour them into their cribs and don't hear from them again until 8:30 the next morning.

The remarkable thing about this trip is not just that we narrowly averted all these disasters, but the fact that I would do it again this weekend if someone asked me to.  And I actively dislike amusement parks.  I'm quite shocked that the amount of fun our kids had made up for the hassles inherent in an excursion like this.  Our friends, who have much more parenting under their belts than we do (their eldest is a tween), set a great example for us.  They didn't seem fazed by any of the stumbling blocks we encountered, they rolled with the punches, and they had fun all day long.  Whenever I went to amusement parks before I had kids, all I saw were miserable parents being tortured by their horrible little tyrants as they pissed away their life's savings on cotton candy and stuffed tigers.  While I might look like one of those miserable parents to the average high school kid, I now understand why amusement parks exist, even in a world where, theoretically anyway, parents still control the purse strings, the car keys, and the family's stance on matters of culture and taste.

You know what else is funny?  I set out writing this as a little diversion to get you to click on links to posts I wrote elsewhere.  And now I've undermined myself by ensuring that you can't stand to hear another word out of me.  Maybe you'll miss me tomorrow and come back to check out the other stuff.   If so, the links are below.

This is the post that kept me up all night, so please don't be shy about "liking" and sharing and stuff.  There was a lot research involved.  10 Real-Life High Schools Made Famous on Film

This one I don't even remember writing: Why Dogs Are Better than Adults at Helping Kids Read



  1. Okay I needed something to make me tired and that sure did! Wow - what a long crzazy day.

    But I am so impressed that u kept ur cool and ur perspective!!! Way to go! Darting all the disasters while keeping focused on all the good stuff - that is how we need to parent at themeparks and all the rest of the time too!

  2. I am tired just reading that.I think I will go nap again.

  3. Hot damn, good stuff. You know how to carve a sentence, Old Man.

  4. 4 diapers and hour and you thought you got out of the difficult job by calling a plumber.

    Amusement parks do rock.

  5. I was already tired before I read this but now... I can't think of any time I've ever been as busy as you were.

  6. What about the poor eye lid? how did that get swollen, or did I miss something? yep,recirculated water will do it every time.. that or pool water..

  7. I don't want any part of a situation like that until it's 60 years from now and I'm the one in diapers. No sir.

    And if I ever have kids, feel free to laugh at me for declaring that.

  8. @Janice--I'm pretty amazed that I didn't turn into a big ball of grump too! I wish I could always be so patient when things get complicated.

    @dkmissie--Keep it bookmarked for whenever you have insomnia!

    @Ben--Thanks, youngster!

    @H-man--I guess they do rock, in a way. I suppose it won't be long until I'm schlepping the kids to Disneyland now.

    @Vinny--There's never a dull moment around here.

    @KBF--You didn't miss anything. I haven't mentioned it. She's got chalazion, which is like a great big stye. Not much to do about it unless you want to get surgery, which I don't. Just have to wait it out. It's finally starting to get smaller after about 4 months.

    @I sure hope you have kids. I will laugh at you all the time! You're already the best mommyblogger of all time.

  9. Thank you for posting this. Thank you for the reminder as to why I am extremely happy that T is 19.

  10. That water is not healthy? But it comes straight from the ground!

  11. the link to 10 Real-Life High Schools Made Famous on Film is broken... and the link to Dad-Tested Techniques to Prevent Toddler Meltdowns sends me to 10 Real-Life High Schools Made Famous on Film is broken :)

  12. @The Secret Life--Exactly!

    @Nubian--You're welcome. I guess T changes his own diapers now?

    @Anon--Really? Dammit! I'm gonna tear that intern a new one.

  13. Tell me more about the guy who watched your dog...also, why does one of the girls have what appears to be a black eye?

    Did you see the miniature Lego Daytona? Of all the cities they could have made from Legos...Daytona?!?!??!


  14. @Blogger Father--I know! You would think those Artesian wells would be pure as the driven snow.

    @Anon--You would LOVE my dogsitter. He's dreamy. Black eye=Chalazion (check wikipedia). Missed Daytona. There must be somebody from there on the board at Legoland.

  15. So glad they're building one of these in Atlanta soon!

    And so sorry to hear about the water issues....

  16. An upside to amusement parks: took our kids (10 & 14) this summer; I am monitoring my calorie intake. The SEVEN MILES I walked way overshot the extra calories I ingested eating at an amusement park!
    A downside: Lunch for 4 at Subway inside the park was 12 bucks more than at any other in New York State (Lower Manhattan excepted, of course...).

  17. Hot damn, good stuff. You know how to carve a sentence, Old Man.


Don't hold back.


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