#210 In which our hero recounts the events of a lovely wedding and the Bataan Death March which followed--part I
The Scientist’s brother was wed last Sunday.
He lives in California, so we’ve been planning the trip for a bit now. Usually I’d be delighted by the prospect of a trip to the west coast and the opportunity to wear fancy clothes, eat a good meal and drink free booze. However, our children are three years old and two years old, which could potentially make the trip challenging.
And by challenging I mean a complete goddamn nightmare. Or, at least, that’s what I was expecting.
See, the wedding itself was in the evening, meaning that by the time dinner was served (7pm, local time) it would already be four hours past our kid’s regular dinner time (6pm, Cleveland time) and an hour past their bed time (9pm, Cleveland time). So this was going to be a problem.
Oh, and Macey (who, remember, is two) was diagnosed with ear infections in both ears two days before we got on the plane. So, y’know, fuck.
But, I was determined to approach the trip with a positive attitude. We’d deal with the kids--we bought bagfuls of snacks--and by God we’d enjoy ourselves. We don’t get to take a trip out to sunny California every day after all.
And, by the time we landed in California, it was starting to look like a positive can-do attitude was going to pay off! Our flights had been on time (and the layover in Chicago minimal), we managed to keep the kids occupied with the portable DVD players (yes, plural, we bought another one for the trip since we would be sitting in different rows for some of the flights) and with lots of snacks and juice boxes. Macey's ears didn't seem to bother her on the flights. We were greeted by Nana and Pop-pop at the gate, the girls were ecstatic to see their grandparents, and everyone was smiles and rainbows.
The first chink in my sunny new disposition came when it turned out that sunny California wasn’t all that sunny. Matter of fact, it was a little chilly. This put the kibosh on the swimming pool, which was one of our major bargaining chips with the girls. Matter of fact, we had to go out and buy the girls new jeans, since we had only brought light dresses and shorts. We did manage to get into the outdoor sauna (which Lily adorably called “The ‘Zon”) a couple of times, which was fun. And that was our Friday.
Saturday was the rehearsal dinner. We tried to get the girls on California time, and they seemed to be making headway. We didn’t have to feed them a full dinner beforehand, and we had high hopes that we could actually get them to eat dinner with us, instead of having to chase them around the table.
Now, it’s important to note that at functions like this, I consider my #1 job to be “keep the kids out of everyone else’s hair.” I’m very disdainful of parents who show up at an event at which there are other kids present and just release them to the pack. Most importantly, this event was to celebrate the impending wedding of my brother-in-law and his wife-to-be; I wanted all eyes on them, not me and a screaming three-year-old. And, like every parent, I assume that every time my child raises her voice above a whisper that everyone else in a three block radius is thinking, “Jesus, can’t you shut up your kid already?!” When the truth is most people don’t give a crap. Anyway.
The dinner went as well as could be expected, helped to some degree by an open bar and a constant flow of a wonderful Riesling (What? I wasn’t driving). It got a little dicey near the end, but mostly The Scientist and I got to enjoy a fantastic meal (the lamb was very rare and very good), drink coffee and actually chat with others at our table. This experience allowed us to breath a sign of relief… hey, maybe the wedding itself won’t be such a big deal!
Oh, such hubris!
Since the wedding didn’t start until 6pm, we had all day to kill. But first--an aside.
The Scientist and I also had an evening wedding. Thinking back, I’m not sure why we decided on evening rather than morning or afternoon… since there was to be a big dinner, I guess we just thought it would make sense to have it around dinner time. I remember that my sisters bitched a little bit about this, saying that they’d have to find something to entertain their kids all day. Tough shit, I thought. Cleveland’s a big city, you’ll find something to do. Needless to say, I’m a little more sympathetic now.
Anyway, we drove to a park and played, watched some movies in the room, let the kids play with their equally young cousins… the day progressed pretty quickly, actually. The Scientist even found time to visit with an old friend, have her hair done, and get a manicure and pedicure. Another aside--I don’t get the pedicure. I mean, I understand your fingernails, I guess… people will see your hands. And I guess people might actually see your toes, too, if you’re wearing an open toe shoe; but other than foot fetishists, who’s really evaluating your feet? And isn’t decorating your toenails just fueling their obsession?
We finally drive over to the venue, and it’s really cool. They choose a working winery, and the stone and timber building was surrounded on all sides by rows and rows of grape vines. However, it’s strange how my perceptions of such things have changed since I became a parent. What once I would have seen as a nice wide-open area for chairs and, later, dancing, I now saw as a rough cement slab that would tear the skin off my children’s knees if they fell. What once was a beautiful tile stairway built into the side of a hill was now something for my kids to tumble down and crack open their heads. The idyllic little fountain wasn’t so much a romantic accent as a swampy bit of land where the girls could get their shoes soaking wet (which Macey did).
Now, I’m sure the brother- and sister-in-law-to-be didn’t consider these things… and they shouldn’t have. It wasn’t their problem. They had other things to deal with. Actually, I hope they didn’t have anything else to deal with… everything went smoothly as far as I could see; if they had to put out any fires in the background we sure as didn’t notice. Then again, I spent most of the time chasing little girls to make sure they didn’t get into anything or accidentally brain themselves.
Unfortunately, things started to go downhill fast. Macey was a little whiney before we even got there, which was a big red flag. The Scientist had to hold her most of the time to keep her from screaming. Lily was better, but still a little off her game. We had no time to socialize (or worse yet, drink) before the ceremony started.
Macey was reaching full meltdown just about the time the ceremony started. I took her and walked her around the back of the winery--that is, as far away from the ceremony as I could get. There was a lot of “Which color is this flower? Right, yellow. What color is this flower? Right, red. How about this one?" Ad nauseum. My new-found cheery mood was starting to ebb.
We got through the entire ceremony without causing a scene (remember, job #1 is keep the kids out of other people’s way) and made it to dinner. The brother-in-law and his new wife thoughtfully provided kids meals (something The Scientist and I did not at our wedding--one of the few things I would change if we could do it over again) but it didn’t really help… Macey was really starting to lose her mind, and Lily only picked at her dinner. The Scientist was really flagging from lack of sleep (hair appointment + pedicure + manicure = no mid-day nap) and was starting to struggle to keep Macey quiet. She even pulled out the big guns (i.e., the portable DVD player) and it only momentarily staunched the flow of outrage over not instantly being put to bed. At this point, it’s about four hours past their normal (Ohio) bed time, and both kids were DONE.
The Scientist apologized several times to her brother for our children having fits… and received blank stares in return. Thankfully, he and his bride were largely unaware of the meltdown, which means we were doing our jobs as parents correctly. Thinking back to my own wedding, I don’t remember my sister’s kids throwing fits either--even though I was told after the fact that that is just what happened. Like I said, it always seems worse to the parents. My worst fear was that our kids would put a damper on their big day but, thankfully, that didn’t seem to happen. I hope their day was a wonderful and enjoyable as my wedding day was. I really wish them the best.
We finally loaded up the car and beat feet around 10:30… just a half hour shy of when they were kicking us out anyway. The girls instantly feel asleep.
Which was good, because we were taking the red eye out of California at 5:30am.
NEXT TIME: the voyage home… or, why it took us 19 hours to make a six hour trip.