I always imagine long, fun-filled family vacations during which all of our time is spent laughing and bonding at beaches or pools or open markets or museums. And then we arrive. Any by the next day, I'm practically counting down the hours until I can go home and enforce the rules of our normal routine.
I don't know if it's because I have all boys, or if it's their ages, or if it's their age differences....but my boys BICKER CONSTANTLY. Someone has an extra napkin. Someone wants a dark blue hat instead of a light blue hat. Someone found a discarded rubberband on the ground and won't share it. Someone wants to listen to the radio. Someone wants to listen to a CD. Both someones want to hold the remote. Someone walks to walk in front (and will have an immediate and intense meltdown when the other steps a whisker's width in front of him).
My most commonly uttered phrases during family vacations/outings:
1) Knock it off!
2) Stop fighting!
3) NOW what are you crying about?
4) Why don't you listen to me?!
5) If you don't stop right now, I'm taking us all home (total lie. The hotel room was totes expensive)
Why do I bring this up, you ask? Well, I just returned from a one-night, overnight trip to a waterpark with my three boys plus one of Jacob's friends. And it was no exception to the above.
My husband was against this trip from the very beginning and (being the smart man that he is) refused to go. I thought he was being a spoilsport and I decided to go anyway. With all the kids. Yes. I have no one to blame. This is entirely all my own doing.
But it wasn't all bad. And underneath it all, we did have fun.
The park is decorated like a lodge. There is a dead bear skin on the wall, right in the middle of the entrance. And it's eyes light up as you walk by. Ryan was totally freaked out by the dead bear (understandably). Unfortunately, every time we needed to go somewhere, we had to pass by the "pretend bear." Ryan erupted into tears and torturous screams every time we walked within 20 feet of the bear. I had to hold his hands, coax him into looking at his shoes, and repeatedly tell him "it's not real, it won't hurt you" every time we went: to the bathroom, to the waterpark, to the hotel room, or to get food. And I had to do this while carrying Jon and multiple bags full of baby crap and swimsuits.
Luckily ALL the kids enjoyed the waterpark. The big boys ran off and played in the wave pools and went down the water slides. Ryan pranced from water toy to water toy, sliding happily down the baby water slides on repeat. I put Jon down and he made a bee line for the water. He bear crawled all over the baby/toddler spray park, made multiple attempts to sneak down the kiddie slide after climbing all the way up the steps, and slapped the water over and over. Jon's favorite thing in the entire world is bathtime. Our trip was basically an entire gym-sized bath to him.
This picture says it all (so sad that it's blurry)
As demonstrated in the above photo, Jon had a great time practicing his standing in the water.
My friend and her husband joined us (with their two young kids). Somehow, even the adults managed to take turns going down the big water slides. Jacob and I went down a slide called the Howling Tornado. Holy Shit. I screamed like a baby. I screamed louder than Jacob. I was 92% certain that I would not survive. Thankfully, I was wrong. But my legs were wobbly and shaky for a full five minutes after that ride. Jacob just wanted to do it again.
My wolf pup!
Last night, Jon woke up seven times in a two hour period. He has four teeth coming in on the top at the same time. I remember being so tired and crabby that, by the seventh waking, I had a very strong desire to throw something against a wall (I resisted). I finally pulled Jon into the double bed with Ryan and me. And I proceeded to get absolutely no sleep the rest of the night as Ryan and Jon took turns kicking me and sticking their feet in my face.
After we finished up swimming again this morning, I took the kids to the arcade. Thirty minutes, three tantrums, and too much money later, I heaved a loud, exhausted, but happy sigh of relief as I escorted four over-tired and over-sugared children to the van. There was no better feeling in the world than knowing all the children were secured (read: stuck) in their seats and I no longer had to chase them or worry about losing them. We stopped at Dairy Queen for lunch and I had a well deserved ice cream cone (and 3/4 of the cone Ryan thought was too "melty").
So, the kids are a lot of work and I am totally insane for saying this....but.... as Jon is turning ten months old and standing and doing big baby things, I'm so insanely sad. He is my last baby. I don't want him to stop being a baby. I don't want there to be a time when I don't have someone in my house who is a baby. I feel totally overwhelmed with sadness and....I never thought I'd say this, but I want another one. I don't know where to put my unrequited love for all the children I will never have. I guess, I should put it towards the children I DO have. But I still feel the weight of longing and the unsatisfied curiosity about What Could Be.
This is totally all Jon's fault. He is the most perfect, easy-going, adorable baby. This is probably bad to say, but I'm pretty sure as far as my babies go that he's my favorite. He is just such a joy. He's almost always happy. He loves everything. He follows me around the house, banging on the floor and talking baby gibberish. He is so sweet and curious and funny. If someone takes something out of his hands, he throws a fit. But if he drops the exact same object and can't find it again (usually because I snuck it away), he's like "eh, I didn't really want that anyway."
Despite being a third child, he's managing just fine. Jon was hungry when we arrived home today. I was almost out of groceries and couldn't figure out what to feed him. So I made him a PB&J sandwich. I gave it to him and laughed. Such a typical third-child thing to do. I joked to my husband that with a first child, you make all your baby food. With a second child, you use convenient jarred baby food. By the time your third child comes along, you just slap a PB&J sandwich together. (Yes, I know you're supposed to avoid giving babies nuts, if he gets a peanut allergy from eating one PB&J sandwich, I'll hate the universe). But he loved it and ate every last smooshy bit of it.
After I fed the kids tonight, we headed to our real estate agent's office to sign some paperwork. (We had our home inspection this week and an appraiser is coming out tomorrow- ah! This is actually happening!). While we were in one room signing papers, the kids were trying to play walk-tag (because I told them if they ran in the office they would get timeout). Their efforts were pretty poor but forgivable.
At one point, a flock of geese walked by the office window and enchanted all three of my kids. Jon pulled himself up to the window, stood in place, and gawked at them with his mouth open as if they where the strangest things he's ever seen. Then he started to grunt excitedly as they were walking away. It's as if he was trying to tell them to come back.
As I was reveling in the cuteness of that moment, Ryan suddenly leaned over and puked all over his hands, his pants, and the couch he was sitting on. And yes, I got to wipe it all up by hand with nothing more than thin pieces of baby wipes separating the foulness from my skin. I think the real estate agent is ready for us to close on our house so that we don''t have to bring the kids into their office anymore.
On the way home we passed a large farm consisting of several acres of cows. The two older kids rolled down their windows and spent a very long five minutes mooing loudly to the cows over roaring traffic. So, you know... between the geese and the cows, at least they're connecting with nature.