Having a child changes everything. EVERYTHING. Having two just makes you crazy. Each time we go on a trip, I swear we will never do it again… then parental amnesia sets in, and I agree to go all over again… “Oh, yes, that sounds like fun!!”
We are lucky to have family that live down on the MS gulf coast, specifically Diamondhead. They have always been gracious and inviting, even though we have small children. It is my favorite place in the world. I love the feel of the community…right down to the pharmacy and grocery store.
The first time I visited Adrian’s family in Diamondhead, without Adrian, Carpenter was a little over two years old. My mom and Vivian (Adrian’s grandmother) and I loaded up for a girl’s trip to the coast. Now, I have to backtrack a bit to describe Vivian… she is the quintessential grandmother. She loves our boys more than the air she breathes; she spoils them and sets no limits what-so-ever. They adore her. It’s wonderful.
So here we go… traveling down Hwy 59 when we decided to make a run through McDonald’s. Vivian is in the back with Carpenter and she orders a mocha latte Frappuccino, or whatever they serve, with extra sugar and caffeine. It never occurred to me that she would let him taste the drink, much less, let him drink the whole thing by himself. Did I mention he was 2 and had probably never had more than a cookie’s worth of sugar?
The home that we visit is rather large and delicately decorated, so travelling with a normal child is a challenge, much less one hopped-up on caffeine. Ten o’clock rolls around and we are desperate to get this child to sleep. I try rocking and cuddling and singing and telling stories. Nothing is working. My mother and I are sharing a room, and we finally decide the best idea would be to let him get down on the floor; thinking he would just play himself out.
Little did I know, that the lever doorknobs were not child proof, and within seconds of letting him down he was off like a shot… squealing like a banshee down the hall. As I am desperate not to keep the others in the house awake, I am trying to control my toddler who has now developed super-human strength. We finally catch him and wrangle him back in the room; barricading ourselves in. My mother takes over and gets Carpenter in bed… telling him sweet stories about Coyote and Run-Roader, his favorite. As she finishes up the story, she tells him that she is going to bed and turns her back on him, thinking shutting him off will help him sleep.
About 20 minutes later, all was still… and we thought all was well. Right as we started to drift off, Carpenter in his wee little voice, while pretending his fingers were an insect climbing up my mother’s back, whispers, “there’s a spider on yououououo.” My mom almost took out the ceiling fan!!
He had never said anything like that before… I swear that child. He can always be counted on to make you laugh. I don’t think we got any sleep that night. Carpenter played and played, and I swore off travel forever…
I also made Vivian sit up front from then on.
Then came Brooks, and I forgot about all the past excursions with Carpenter. About six months ago, right before Brooks turned two, Adrian and I visited the coast again. That night, Brooks did NOT want to go to sleep. Since we are always evolving as parents, I knew not to try the letting-him-down approach or the staying-up-all-night approach. I decided to put him in the car and try the ride-it-out approach. I knew he was tired, and surely a little run-about the neighborhood would do the trick (it works for the parents in the car commercials.)
Brooks, being the youngest, has spent most of his life in only a diaper, so clothes did not seem necessary. I did not see the importance for me to wear shoes, either. I grabbed him up and off we went. Needless to say, I did not anticipate getting lost, nor did I anticipate getting pulled over by blue flashing lights. Yep, they thought I was drunk. The only reason they thought that was because I was traveling the wrong way down a one-way street. Epic-parent-fail.
The lights and siren of the police car woke my sleeping child and brought about a full-on screaming fit. The officer did not find it amusing, that in my hurry to get out of the house, I had also left my purse with all my identification. Since it was hard to talk over a screaming child, he politely asked me to step outside the car. I prayed he did not notice my bare feet, which, of course, he did.
Long story short, the fact that me and my half-naked baby both were crying won me a police escort back “home” that night. Adrian swore never to let me out of the house again and Brooks, wired from all the excitement, stayed up half the night.
I don’t understand why we never learn. We always think the next time will be better. My two boys have given me the biggest joys of my life and also provided my biggest challenges. They are so much fun but never seem to want to be still, sleep or eat when they are supposed to. They are sneaky too, they give me just enough obedience to believe that they have changed. Just enough for me to let down my guard and try it again.
And I keep trying… We actually just got back from a trip down to Diamondhead… We didn’t get much sleep this time either, but that story involves Adrian, my friends car, Burger King, and a car chase… fun times with the Hill family!