Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Long Road Home

If Husband or I believed in foreshadowing, we may have been alarmed when Sydney came to our bedroom at 7:45 on our departing day of vacation to announce "we're hungry. And Jackson wants to go home." If ever I wanted Bewitched powers of nose wiggling (and yes, I know I'm dating myself) it was then.

Husband and I had decided, contrary to my inborn organizational mania, that we would do all the packing up and cleaning on the last day and not sully our last full day of vacation. It's a trailer, how long can it take?

It felt like two eternities with a seven year old boy saying "can we go home now?" every 12 seconds. It started before Husband or I had finished breakfast and continued until he mercifully decided to watch some YouTube videos.

So Husband washed up the dishes while I started packing up the kids' bedroom. We continued until Husband had enough things that he could start packing the van. I felt I had either a literal or figurative boy tapping his toes and tapping on his watch to hurry us along. I don't like feeling pressured.

We had hoped that the kids would play a little tennis or go a swim with Husband so I could get organized in peace. It was not to be. Once I kicked the kids our of the trailer to do the final cleanup and they decided they would sit in the van and wait, the impatience climaxed.

At 10:45 a.m. we drove away from the RV park, with my usual sense of "what did we leave behind?" Husband pointed out that it was a tiny trailer, what could we have left behind?

As we drove out of town Husband and I did our post mortem of our week and thought about whether we would want to come back to this place or the same lake but a different place or an entirely new location. This peaceful back and forth lasted 7 minutes.

Then we suggested to the kids that we stop for lunch at The White Spot. A restaurant with good reliable food and Pirate Packs for the kids. They bring their meals in cardboard pirate ships complete with (chocolate) gold coin. It's usually a hands down winner as the kids LOVE the mac and cheese there.

"I'm not stopping. We are going straight home" Jackson pronounced in a decidedly inflexible tone.

And so went the back and forth. We tried to point out it was an hour and a half ride home and we have been eating lunch all week at about 11 and we were all already hungry. The fact that Jackson was actually hungry impaired his logical reasoning faculties and we could not penetrate his single-mindedness in REQUIRING to be home and creating the office he had been scheming about the day before. He was a boy with a mission and we were standing in his way.

Sydney tried to soften the blow and say "We'll just stop for lunch and then the next stop will be our house."

"Well, we do have to make a quick stop at the vegetable and fruit stand." I added quickly before that seed took hold. We needed to pick up fresh corn for a family gathering.

"TWO STOPS!!!" the J Boy moaned.

To make matters worse, we found a mini White Spot inside a gas station but it only sold burgers. We were told of another White Spot a few blocks away. Unfortunately the few blocks took us a while as it was by a huge mall which is just off the main highway and I guess at 11 a.m. on a Friday morning a lot of people want to be just at that spot.

We made our way to the White Spot husband pointed out that this is the same one we went to on our vacation LAST year. And it was the longest wait we have ever had at a restaurant in our lives. Lightning couldn't strike twice, could it?

Jackson was insistent that he was not making this stop. I told him that it was illegal for us to leave a 7 year old in the van by himself. So I would stay with him while Daddy ate and then Daddy would stay with him while I ate and it would take TWICE as long to eat lunch and that would delay our trip home.

He suggested that he could stand outside the restaurant while we ate. I told him that was also illegal and the government frowns upon it.

I finally saw that his intransigence had diminished a little and he was ripe for a compromise but it had to be good. "How about I piggyback you inside and so if you don't walk, it won't count as you making a stop?"

He paused, thinking whether he would take the bait or make a counter-offer.

"But it will still be a stop if I touch anything in the restaurant" he said.

"We'll bring a towel in and you can sit on the towel so you don't touch the restaurant."

And that is what we did. I schlepped the boy inside, rib injury notwithstanding. Despite the fact that there were only about 4 tables in use, Husband and Girlie Goo, who had been cooling their heels for at least 5 minutes, were still in the lobby while they "cleaned a table for us".

Husband noticed that the greeter was also cleaning tables and taking orders. This did not bode well for fast table service. The lack of staffing was the cause of our here-to-eternity wait for our meals last year.

"Let's just hope she isn't also the person doing the cooking as well" I said hopefully.

Jackson was situated on his towel and we ordered. Jackson was saying he still wasn't hungry and would just wait while we ate when I said those two magic words "Garlic bread?". Jackson agreed and we hoped that and some french fries would get him carb-loaded up enough to get us home.

Husband came up with the bona fide brilliant idea that I could run to the vegetable stand during the meal waiting period. Which is what I did. It was further that we thought but I still made it back before our meals arrived and we happily avoid another showdown over an additional stop on our trek home.

When I arrived back, Jackson was telling his Daddy he better go cancel our order as we were not waiting any longer and "WE ARE GOING HOME!!".

Just then the garlic bread and the rest of our meals arrived. Turns out Jackson likes sweet potato fries and ate his body weight in that and garlic bread. Husband threw his credit card at our server so she could run it through and we could hastily exit when we finished eating.

"Next stop home!" we said as we loaded into the van. I might add that Jackson was much more reasonable and lifted his embargo on touching anything in the restaurant and walked out under his own steam. I had discovered the short cut to the highway on my vegetable-stand excursion. Things were looking up.

For about 5 minutes.

Then, I uttered the word "CRAP!!" And banged on the dashboard. And thought a lot of words that are worse than 'crap'.

"What???" Husband asked.

"We forgot our tennis rackets."

"Well I'm not going back", an emotional J Boy gave his edict.

Husband briefly tried to calculate the cost of 4 tennis racks, a sleeve of balls and a volleyball. He was thinking there is no way it will be worth it. Jackson tried to convince us we should head straight home and then Daddy could drive back to get the rackets.

It wasn't really a close decision and we turned the ship around with theatrics in the back seat.

We stayed calm and tried to explain that NONE of us was happy about going back. Jackson was unrelenting in his stance that HE was not going back. As we neared the RV park he insisted that we pull over and leave him on the side of the road and pick him up on the way back. He was okay with the rest of us going back but he shouldn't have to. We told him the government has rules too about leaving little boys on the side of the road.

So then the boy started throwing things which breaches the cardinal Mommy rule, first created when he, as a 2 year old, threw his shoe at my head and scared the crap out of me and gave me a goose egg. Jackson lost all "screen" privileges (tv/computer/DS). Despite the histrionics we got back to the trailer and retrieved our items. It would have been an excellent time to remember that I had left some earrings in one of the drawers but I wasn't thinking clearly, no doubt because I was still smarting from the water bottle missile thrown at me. (I told you I don't like packing up under pressure - I rarely leave anything behind!)

As luck would have it, once we set up the DVD player in the car, both kids watched 2 DVDs which brought us straight home. We actually made good time and we were all relieved that the trip was over.

Jackson got out of the van, lay on the dirty garage floor and gave a very satisfying sigh. After checking that our fish had survived, I headed straight to the dishwasher to fondle it with a similar satisfying sigh.

Jackson got straight to work on creating his office in an alcove by the stairs:

His first order of business?? Writing as essay on why he shouldn't throw things in the car (to earn back his screen privileges). Here it is:

I am actually pretty pleasd with how many words he spelled correctly and may revisit the summer homework policy. I'm waiting for him to ask me what "S.A." stands for.

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