So, the intervening weeks between installments can squarely and categorically be blamed on my family and the chaos that can go into running it.
Our babysitter has been in CA so... So things have not been what you'd call "stress free". My inlaws filled in many of the gaps (and aged a decade in the process). I got an ear infection, a migraine and my vengeful period (not simultaneously and not necessarily in that order. Relax.) The kids were on alternating weeks of Spring break, my oldest had a birthday and the youngest has hit his terrible twos at 3 and a half. Hot husband's shoot schedule has been without mercy and when he's here, he's at breakneck speed trying to finish up a new bathroom before our AU PAIR ARRIVES ON FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!
Yeah. Au pair. It rolls in the mouth and off the tongue like the very best chocolate covered nugget of scrumptious-ness. I suppose the universe and her history will tell me that a storm, tumult, revolution and evolution always precedes the emergence of change, newness and calm. I'm sure madame universe would tell me that and I'd punch her in the face anyway.
The au pair is coming from Sweden and I can't friggin wait. I can't wait to have an adult female here. An adult female whose sole mission is to help us help our family negotiate the miasma we exist in.
Anyway, that's the pre-amble. Here's what you came for:
We woke up that second morning feeling pretty damn good. PJ was a wee-bit pissed off we weren't going to the water park again but we plied her with more blueberry muffins and eggs and all was well with the world (lemme fit in, however, that I tried to give Lincoln one of his medications at breakfast because I had forgotten to administer it the night before. It did not go well and in retrospect, he may have never recovered from that moment over the course of the day ahead).
The drive from our hotel to the Falls was crackling with tiny sparks and tingles of excitement. We were all jazzed up and enjoyed marveling at the dichotomy of the local landscape. Casinos can do that to a town. Pawn shops and freak shows and ice cream shops and liquor stores and fancy hotels and seedy motels happily co-habitate in the town of Niagra Falls and we were soaking it all in.
Penelope didn't care, though. She had developed a glare, a stare and a veneer of discontent that the Bronte sisters wish they could have described. We did our best to alternatively ignore her mood and to coax her out of it. Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Resilience takes many forms, my friends.
We found a place to park and we bit that fucking bullet and got out of the car.
It was a gray, spitty-rain kinda day. It wasn't nice out and not having the cooperation of the weather with cantankerous, unpredictable children is a cruelty I'd not wish on my enemies.
The Falls are LOUD and HUGE. I felt an incredible sense of privilege to be standing before them and I wanted to convey my gratitude and I wanted to experience the cell-splitting sense of humanness welling up inside of me... but... Penelope was there too. Penelope. Gray as the day and as full of power as the crushing water all around us. Penelope.
The smallest girl in the world can not only suck the air out of the room, she can suck the energy out of Niagra Falls.
Nothing worked. No amount of cajoling, carrying, kindness, understanding words, sternness... nothing. She was bloody miserable. And it went on and on and on and on and on and on and on...
We took turns carrying Lincoln, Ruby and Chris and me. Lincoln who was like a live wire in the presence of all that water. I swear he would have jumped out of our arms and into the driving force of the blue-green-black-white spray if we'd let him. The day had become painful.
When the oasis of the gift shop appeared, we dove in like starving refugees. Nope. Failure. What about making a souvenir out of a crushed penny? Yes. Yes! YES! She was happy, she was smiling. She wanted to do that. Oh God. I felt like a 2 week constipation had been relieved. Chris took the opportunity to investigate the surrounding attractions and we were ok. We were ok.
He came back and told us he bought tickets for the elevator behind the Falls. I was psyched! So was Ruby! We were obviously delirious. I know you know, but it could not have been a worse move.
The ride down was had in relative calm. PJ had resumed her uncomfortable posture, though and Link was acting slightly agitated. When I held Penelope up to one of the viewing windows underground and she saw the water gushing down in torrents in front of her face, she gasped and was so clearly and beautifully wowed. The mood stuck. She held my hand gently and asked magical questions and let me love her.
Lincoln had lost his mind. The combination of the tight tunnels and cacophony of sound was the nail in his coffin.
We got out fast and hightailed it to the car. He was like a bucking bronco on meth as we put him in his car seat. He was screaming like a three year old crack baby beginning withdrawal. I suppose I don't need to mention that it was bad in our world at that moment. So bad.
At one point I released him from the car seat and let him flail in the openness of the minivan. That action and what proceeded were not proud parenting moments and I'll leave it at that. No one was hurt yet no one was unscathed.
Chris got out of the car with the girls and took a desperate detour to the Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum and I took Link back to the hotel. I cranked the rearview mirror down so I could spy the twisted and miserable visage of my sweet baby boy. I asked him if he was hungry. He said yes.
We stumbled into Perkins clutching each other. As soon as we were handed menus he pointed to the picture of a plate of macaroni and chess and said "this". He sat on my lap to eat it. And he did so in complete silence. I sobbed into his downy head and hated everyone and everything. My son does not deserve a difficult life; difficult emotions and moments. He is a gift and he deserves the world. Right then, though, if he could talk in full thoughts and sentences, I believe he would have told me that the whole world and everything he could ever want was in that plate of pasta. Right then, he was happy again.