A self indulgent, terribly long, tongue-in-cheek post that waffles between the first and third person. Mainly to serve as a memory so that some day, far into the future, I can remember two days with five boys.
Remember when your kids were young and your childcare provider would give you a run down of their day when you picked them up?
This week I took five boys to the city for two days. Here’s my teenage boy version of that run down.
Day One of Two
Leave at 9am. Stop at Superstore to let the boys spend $40 of my points on snacks for the weekend. They momentarily consider spending all the points on a large stuffed pink hedgehog to use as a mascot the entire weekend instead of food. Teenage stomachs overrule the brief sidebar and junk food it is. Surprisingly though some fruit and cheese are also part of the equation. Small wonders.
11:30 am we arrive at the Oval and rent skates. The boys request sizes that range from 5 to 13. Seriously. When else in life do you have friends that range so much in physicality?
I learn that The Oval only carries one pair of size 13 skates. At all. Mental note to reserve them next time, and hope Matt doesn’t keep growing, otherwise we will have to rent a sledge to push him around with.
Put skates on and answer the question “do I have to wear a helmet?” Yes. Sorry. It’s the uncool part of the program, and I have big plans of bringing home all five of you with intact skulls.
Out they go onto freshly zambonied ice. (I know it’s not a word).
I immediately sigh with relief as I realize I’m not the only parent who hasn’t taken my child skating since Grade 5. I stand and watch as they look like a cross between drunk gazelles and baby deer. With the exception of hockey-player Daniel who glides effortlessly around the ice with his hands in his pockets like he is in a 1940s Black and White Film. I expect Audrey Hepburn to jump out of the bushes at any moment to skate hand and hand with him. He’s that smooth.
Meanwhile some of my other flock have taken to utilizing the child-assist skating devices. I worry for a moment if they should be giving them to the small children, but quickly recognize that is a moot point – as the 8 year olds skate circles around my 13 and 14 year olds.
Time for Chris to return his skates and helmet. When asked what last name it was under he says Ann. My last name is not Ann. I have known Chris for 5 years. This will be the “bit” of the weekend.
Chris apologizes. Karrie-Ann threatens to take Chris’ fruit away if he keeps apologizing for things. Sweetest most respectful kid ever.
Leave the Oval. Justin trips over a stick and falls down. He lays in the ground a long time and looks to be injured. Crap. We are only 3 hours in to this weekend and we already have a man down. Damn it. Wait. Nope. He can’t catch his breath because he is laughing so hard. No harm no foul.
Load in the van. Give them choice of where to eat. Will drive them anywhere. They unanimously and excitedly request the food court at the Halifax Shopping Centre.
Mental Note: Start taking kids out to places with more culture than food courts.
They proceed to spend two hours at the mall. This is new. The mall? Shopping? I guess they aren’t 10 anymore Dorothy.
Watch as some girls watch the boys and the boys watch some girls.
Head to the hotel. We have only rented one suite for six of us. They will break some fire codes and “illegally” cram into the living room side of things to sleep on the floor, pull out sofa and “feel” like they have a room to themselves.
I ask three of them to come with me to check in, leaving two in the van. I have a flashback to when the kids were little and I would have never left them in a car by themselves.
I wonder for a moment if someone might try to kidnap the 6’2″ children.
Check in and go dump stuff in room. Try to discreetly go back downstairs and sneak remainder of “the children” through the side door.
Learning of the day: They are all too big and loud to try and sneak anywhere. Graceful and sleuthlike is not their forte.
Arrive in room. They hook up the XBOX to the TV. I never would have agreed to bringing a video game system on our mini vacay if it wasn’t for the pending storm knowing we could be stuck in the hotel room a good part of the day.
I learn later that night that there are screens and then there are screens. These games they play – they never stop talking and laughing. It’s very unlike screens when they are on their social media.
Head to cineplex to beat the storm. Drop boys off. Go shopping. Worry the entire time if the storm will start early as I have four kids who are not my own with me. (The fact that I am literally less than five minutes to the hotel doesn’t seem to factor into reality for me).
Go to Boston pizza to pre-order pizza. BOGO on pizza. Score. We can eat supper for $10 each.
Return to find boys at the theatre arcade. Matt and Daniel are either incredibly skilled or incredibly lucky at an arcade game and receive an unusual amount of tickets to trade for bouncy balls. Which of course they must have.
The dichotomy of this age is one of the things I love most.
Young woman behind the counter becomes confused and somewhat defiant when the tall men-like creatures standing before her insist on acquiring all of said bouncy balls with their dozens of tickets.
Sadly Karrie-Ann (again Ann is not not her last name) must break up the conversation as she insists it’s time to go as a blizzard is forming quickly and we do not want to be stuck in the Cineplex with rude-bouncy-ball-lady for the entire weekend.
Eat the cheap pizza at hotel.
They go to the pool to swim. Return within 5 minutes. Too many little kids. (Be still my heart – they aren’t ‘the little kids’ anymore)
Return to pool after some serious gaming. Apparently have pool all to themselves later in the night.
Karrie-Ann chooses not to supervise them at pool – there is only five of them – letting them grow up and go.
She instead spends the entire hour in room praying they don’t make stupid decisions to dive head first into the concrete bottom.
They return in one piece. Phew. Dodged that bullet.
Try to sleep.
12:35 am. Karrie-Ann quietly but meaningfully turns on her light and shuffles about her room hoping they can see the light from the crack under my door. She hears “shhhhhhh” and laughter. She makes a mental note in 10 minutes she will be less discreet and go yell at the boys that it’s time to settle down.
12:36 am. Karrie-Ann falls asleep. Who the hell knows what happens between 12:37 and 7:00 am. Bars and strip clubs perhaps.
Day Two of Two
Wake up and give thanks that a) it appears no boy wandered out of the hotel room never to return and b) we did NOT get kicked out of the hotel.
That’s how I’m defining success this weekend.
Inform boys next time there will be a morning curfew – no one out of bed until 8am. Matt and Chris agree. Particularly Matt who got elbowed by Daniel several times asking if he was up yet. No Daniel. He wasn’t up. Truth be told though it was Chris’ alarm and my early morning son and Jackson who started the sunrise fiasco.
Boys head down to eat breakfast and play a tournament of something on the gaming system.
Karrie-Ann drinks two large cups of coffee. Without Baileys. Give myself pat on the back for not being inebriated around the children.
Somewhere around this time they call me on “a swear”. I called one of them a smart-ass. I love they think that qualifies as swearing. I love even more I never heard one disrespectful word from them all weekend toward me. Not one. And that’s the truth.
Get ready to leave hotel for Get Air.
Uh oh. Realization that a bomb exploded in the boys room. We may need a late check out just for them to clean it up.
The sloth-like creatures do a reasonable job in an unreasonable amount of time. How the hell are they so fast on the court?
Arrive at Get Air. Everyone from Halifax and Dartmouth are there. No really. Everyone. People have quit their jobs to come here today. The line is nearly out the door.
Finally get through. Boys go jump. I go sit and make small talk with other Moms I’ve never met before. Big mistake. I don’t have the energy for small talk. I should have went and sat in the van by myself.
All five return after their one hour jumping session with no injuries and have apparently not jumped on nor injured any people shorter than them either.
Once again – success.
Look for van in parking lot. We are all confused when it won’t unlock. Another mental note – pay better attention when renting a vehicle – memory consisting of “blue van” doesn’t cut it in the city.
Pile back into the correct van only to pile back out again after a vote calls for eating prior to leaving.
Go eat. Sit away from them to give them space. I’m so tired my head feels heavy. Would it be conspicuous to lay my head down next to my quesadilla and take a little nap?
I realize what a long period of consecutive waking hours they have been together – usually they would have breaks in time when spending two days together. They have done very well. They are good kids and they make me proud – even though only one of them is mine – I’m so proud of them all.
Ok. All done. Time to go home.
The drives are always the best part. They chirp each other and make the stupidest jokes and try to one-up each other. They try and beat each other at some game I can’t pronounce. They fight over the back seats which is where they are most squished but still want to be.
There is one point as I’m dropping Daniel off to his house that I laugh so hard tears literally pour out of my eyes. I’m so so so tired. Why don’t I have a vehicle that drives itself?
Two days with five boys.
Each of who unfold themselves from the van as I drop them off. Each of whom try and find their bags and pillows from the piled-high-Beverly-Hillbillies-Van. And each of whom holler a big and sincere “Thank You” as they drag themselves to their homes.
Each of them exhausted, over tired and zombie like. They don’t exactly “look” like a great time was had. They are smelly from Get Air. Come to think of it I’m not sure I saw any toothbrushes out at the sink either. And certainly not a shower was had. Will their mothers ever let me take them anywhere again?
But even smelly and exhausted, I wouldn’t trade these two days or these five boys for the world.
These are the moments.
Oh – and by the way – the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.
It’s an inside joke. Which isn’t so much a joke as a game. And which I wasn’t really on the inside of either.
But how thankful I was … to be on the outside of it looking in.