I am home for a rest after spending a mostly relaxing weekend in British Columbia, the land where everyone refers to their items by brand name, not description. As in, “The airline lost my Peg Perego” (an infant car seat) or “I just love walking in my Saucony’s” (shoes). I spent a lot of time nodding and smiling as to not appear to be the prairie hick luddite who owns a playpen, not a ‘Baby Bjorn’. I’m tired. Not only for the mental exhaustion that comes with trying to pretend I have any clue what people are talking, but also because I’m still recovering from the trip to the Vancouver Aquarium with two three year-old girls and a four month old baby in the middle of a Saturday.
Armed with a Primo Viaggio (stroller), the girls, snacks to satisfy every anticipated whim of a toddler, a baby, and at least two cell phones in case we needed to call for back-up, off we went to see the whales, dolphins, various kinds of fish and maybe an otter or two.
After we arrived and had to circle the parking lot for 15 minutes before finding a spot, a slow, dawning realization came to my friend and I that this might be challenging. We kept quiet though, out of respect for the other who may have decided to comfortably embrace the warm bosom of delusion.
It appeared there were quite a few people that picked the same day to take in the aquarium. Undeterred, we set about the process of un-buckling the girls, getting the baby settled in his stroller, and hauling out the bags, toys, snacks, tequila and valium before we forged ahead into the great unknown.
We arrived at the doors to the aquarium, steeled our nerve and prepared for battle. At some point during the walk from the parking lot the girls had managed to apply war paint which went perfectly with the low hum of jungle drums that were suddenly playing in my head. I even heard a monkey squawk. Wait a minute…aren’t we at an aquarium? There were people EVERYWHERE.
We were to meet two friends and their children at the entrance (safety in numbers), but alas, only one made it. We were only an hour into our voyage when traffic took out our first solider. We bought a stuffed beluga at the gift shop and sent it to her family with notes of kind regard.
The girls were not at all shaken by news of our first casualty or the masses of resistance forces that were stationed at every corner. In fact, along with the war paint the kids had managed to organize an impressive zone-defence that would have made any NFL coach proud. After yelling a squeaky ‘BREAK!’ they each took off in opposite directions with their little heads bobbing between a sea of random legs.
Man, those kids are fast. It also didn’t help that they are also super short because it was as equally hard to see them when they are standing right beside you as it is when they are bolting towards the nearest display of sea horses.
There was some pretty cool stuff to see at the aquarium, but we only got to see it when the girls took a break from plotting our demise.
"Dude, what are you doing just standing there? It's totally your turn to take off running in the opposite direction."
Cute though, right? The cute is all part of their plan, you see. Just when you’re all ‘awwwe’ they hit you with a tantrum or an owie or a sharp and pointy toy upside the head.
But, all that stuff is okay because the way they go about it is somehow charming in its own right. One flash of that mischievous grin and even though I know I’ll pay for it with some kind of natural disaster caused by the cyclone that is the collective 60 pounds of these children, I let it happen anyway because whatever the fallout, it’s probably going to be worth it.
Although it has taken me a few days to recover and I’m not sure we won the battle, the weekend was a blast. I wish I could freeze those girls in time and visit them at this age whenever I want because right now they are about perfect. I washed off the war paint though.
p.s. If you're wondering why my kid is practically bald, read this.
p.p.s. - I should also point out that only the bald kid is mine. The other one belongs to my friend who graciously gave me permission to exploit her daughter on the internet.