Thursday, September 10, 2015

Damned for a Day

Wait a minute. Damned? Unitarian Universalists don't believe in damnation. That would go against, like, every single one of the seven principles! So how could I possibly have been damned? Well, it all started with playing hooky from church one Sunday.

That morning was really rough. Violet, at 16 months, was the grumpiest she'd been in a long time. Teeth? Growth spurt? Just generally pissed off at the world? Who knows? It wasn't "eat," "outside," "water," "milk," "dog," "poop," or the name of any specific person, so I had no idea. She wasn't bringing me her fuzzy blanket, asking to snuggle, she didn't want to be held, she didn't want to be put down...nothing made her happy. I could just see church unfolding before my eyes as absolute hell for an hour. She wasn't going to let me leave the childcare room without screaming herself sick, she wasn't going to let me take care of other kids in childcare, and she wasn't going to be quiet and sit through the service, either. I made the executive decision to stay away altogether.

But it was going to be 90 degrees that day, and Warren really needed a break from the kids - something we both count on him getting on Sundays. I decided the kids and I needed an air-conditioned car ride with naps, leading to something fun. I decided on the Maine Discovery Museum, which is about a 50 minute, door-to-door drive from my house. Our annual membership is one of the best investments we've made! My kids both love it, and 50 minutes is enough for Violet to snooze herself into a slightly more charming monster.

The museum opens at noon on Sundays, so I decided we should leave at 10:30 and first visit McDonald's for lunch. (Hint: this might in fact be where the UU damnation begins...)

Side note: "girl" Happy Meal toys are generally awful. On this day, the "girl" option was a ruler. A RULER. Girls want to...I don't know, measure stuff? While boys are actually, you know, having FUN with their monster trucks?! It's ridiculous. Consequently, I always ask for the "boy" toys for both kids.

We finished at McDonalds and I cleaned up the floor around our table. Yes, we should all do that. Yes, it's a crappy fast-food place, but that also means the people who work there make crappy fast-food wages. That's not enough, in my opinion, to have to clean up regurgitated chicken nuggets, apple juice, and french fries saturated in ketchup. It's just not. I don't pay enough at McDonald's for someone else to have to clean up after my disaster area, with two small kids.

With both kids full and looking forward to the museum, we piled in the car and drove to the parking garage. James began begging me, as he does every time, to park way at the top of the parking garage. And, as I do every time, I responded negatively and indicated I am not willing to walk all the way down. Thank heaven that I held my ground, too, because when we got to the museum door, we are all disappointed to see: "Closed for repairs!"

Ugh. What to do, what to do. I couldn't just put the kids back in the car and drive home. That just didn't seem fair or right. Bangor's a big city by Maine standards, and I knew it would have a number of playgrounds, so I told the kids we'd look for a playground. Yes, even the 16 month old recognizes the word playground and got the gist of what we'd be doing. As we trudged back to the parking garage, we stopped and spoke with a couple of different groups of people, trying to find out if anyone knew the location of the nearest playground. The first group were tourists, and the second were college freshmen originally from away. Slim pickings in the park knowledge department.

But hey, this is an advantage to having smartphones. I got us all in the car, stroller packed in back, and Googled parks in Bangor. Just as soon as I had chosen one, my stomach churned viciously. I was suddenly about to explode. "James, we're going to have to stop by a gas station really quick before we go to the park," I said, panicked. "My stomach hurts terribly."

"Are you going to throw up out of your butt, Mom?" he asked, concerned. (When the whole family caught a stomach virus last winter, that's how he described what was happening to his body at the time, and I've got to say, it fits)

"Yes, I am," I squeaked.

"Can you hold it?" he said. Yes, the four-year-old was asking me questions like he was my parent.

"I hope so!" And off we went. I couldn't make it all the way to the gas station. We actually had to stop at the McDonald's, the first available place I saw.

"Mom, I'm just going to stay in the car," James announced.

"No! You are not! It is 95 degrees out, too hot to stay in the car, I will get arrested, and so will you, come here please!!!" He got out. I don't know if it was what I said or the panic in my voice. Probably both.

In any case, I made it, shall we say. Barely. And then I felt better. So - to they park!

When we got to the park, James exclaimed, "Wow, Mom! This is a great park! It's different from our City Park!" It had a huge, sprawling metal and plastic structure that did indeed differ dramatically from Belfast City Park's wooden forts and stone climbing structures. It was pretty neat, in its own way. What was not so neat was the heat - and the fact that the play structure had no shade.

Ten minutes in, both kids were purple with heat exhaustion, and, unlike Belfast's City Park, there were no water fountains. I let them keep going for five more minutes, then said, "Gosh, James, I think we've got to leave. It's just too hot. We can get something to drink on the way home."

I knew I was right when he immediately panted, "Yeah, Mom, let's go to the car."

On our walk to the car, my stomach started churning yet again. I guess between the heat and the garbage that I had eaten at McDonald's, this was not my digestive system's day. I was shaking as I buckled the kids in the car, hoping I could make it one more time. There was, fortunately, a gas station within five minutes of us, and I stopped immediately, hauled both kids in with me practically at a run, rid of the rest of the problem, I guess. In the bathroom, where it belonged.

James and I got some ginger ale and picked up some water for Violet. We all settled in the car fairly quietly, all things considered. Violet squawked quite a bit on the way home - understandably, since this was more awake car ride than she had bargained for. The drive home was not pleasant, but at least I didn't have to stop again.

The only thing that we accomplished, really, was giving Warren a total of a three hour break. When we got home, I was still feeling green (which isn't easy, y'know, as a great philosopher once said) and the kids were wild with pent up energy. Thank goodness for Warren, who, fresh off that break, was ready to take over. I was ready to put the entire day behind me.

And it's all because I didn't go to church. Damn me!

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