I attended a rave for kids over the weekend!
But, first let’s recount another epic restaurant failure.
We took the kids to Lee Roy Selmon’s for lunch.
Huck was asleep when we arrived. I wish he had stayed that way.
As soon as the food arrives, he wakes up pissed off and starts crying. My husband tells him to stop crying or he will get time out. So, he starts WAILING.
Then, my daughter starts crying because I told her she can’t have any birthday cake at my niece’s birthday party because she’s refusing to eat anything but Mac ‘N Cheese.
Can 3 year olds get scurvy? I bet mine can.
I have literally eaten a few bites of food before my husband is trying to hail down the waitress to get the check and I’m shuttling two screaming kids out of the restaurant.
Outside, in the blistering heat, I use distraction techniques to shut them up.
“Do you hear a plane?”
“Look, a lizard!”
It works until we get to the car, when my daughter starts being a giant Jackass. Every 2 seconds, she’s saying “mommy.”
“Mommy, get my Cinderella dress off the floor.”
“Mommy, I want juice.”
“Mommy, I’m being good now so I can have birthday cake.” (Oh, hell no you can’t.)
“Mommy, I want a snack.” (Go, F-yourself you little meatless, veggieless, fruitless monster.)
We took my food to go so I could eat it in the car, but my blood pressure is soaring and I know if I eat I am going to be trapped in a bathroom, destroying the toilet at the bowling alley for my niece’s party.
Which brings me to the rave.
We arrive earlier than anticipated since lunch was cut so short. We take them to the arcade area and try to show how them how to play Skee Ball.
We take a shot at air hockey.
Alma refuses to play.
Huck sits on the table and my husband accuses me of trying to injure our son because I hit the puck too hard.
We walk over to the party once it’s started. Seconds after the obligatory round of cheek-kissing, they shut off the lights.
I am blinded by neon and can no longer see my children.
The theme is candy.
Tweens are running around sucking on ring candy and I’m having a flashback to the time I ended up at a rave, sitting miserably against the wall with some douche bag spinning glow sticks in front of my face saying, “Are you rolling? You’re so rolling. Are you rolling?” (For the record, I was NOT.) (That same night I ended up in the women’s bathroom with some chick who asked if I was having fun. I told her, “Not at all.” She offered me cocaine.)
So, now I am desperately trying to herd my children around the table where I’m sitting on one of the most uncomfortable, perpetually swiveling chairs.
I am envisioning their melon heads being shattered by some pre-adolescent boy wildly swinging a bowling ball.
My daughter is repeatedly refusing to drink fruit punch because she wants juice. Abuela offers her the same drink and calls it juice. Alma drinks it and loves it. (Then snidely says, “Mommy, it’s not fruit punch. It’s juice, see?”)
I’m digging apart pieces of crappy, overpriced pizza for my son, the tomato sauce burning through my hangnail. (Pizza that I cannot eat because I am lactose intolerant.)
There’s some pizza-faced, “slow” girl who works for the bowling alley lurking around to make sure the correct number of adults are bowling at each lane. I resist the urge to trip her. I mean, it’s dark. No one will see, right?
I love bowling and I’m pretty darn good at it. Doing it basically blindfolded while trying to keep my toddlers from being abducted by potential pervs?
I buy a pitcher of shitty beer. It does not make me feel better.
My son has been given a little birthday balloon on a plastic stick. He proceeds to hit himself in the eyeball with the stick. (2 days later and it’s still red)
Awesome, now I’ve blinded my son for the sake of a little kid rave.
My daughter is hopped up on candy (Candy is not birthday cake, she has informed me.) and I am still STARVING.
In the car, my spoiled leftovers smell like cheesy, unclean, fat person butt. (Which surprisingly does not keep me from being HUNGRY.)
We have no food at home. I get groceries. I cook. I hate everything.
The next day, my husband needs to get some work done so I end up taking the kids to see the new Planes movie.
I’m down with talking dogs. I can even chill out with phallic-looking Muno and his genital warts.
They lose me at communicating planes, helicopter and tractors.
My son is demanding to “walk around” during the movie.
My daughter drops her smuggled banana bread onto the floor.
At one point, she’s sitting on the floor, sticky with God knows what and I DON’T CARE.
I come home to find my husband still working and I die a little inside.
We manage to wrest him away from the computer long enough to hit up the mall park.
It smells rancid, like hot, unwashed hair.
Big kids are trying to jump from a giant fake hotdog to a giant fake Coke cup, threatening to squash my tiny tots running in between. My husband yells at them to stop and other parents are looking at his NRA hat suspiciously.
My son poops and I take him to the family restroom and discover we don’t have any wipes in the diaper bag. I am wiping him with Starbucks napkins, hoping other parents don’t notice. Within minutes of being back inside the park, he poops again.
We have to leave because there are no more Starbucks napkins.
Now, Alma starts screaming because we didn’t take them on the cars outside the park. (The little motorized cars that we refuse to pay for so they can jiggle from side to side. I always tell them to just get inside and enjoy their Goddamned imaginations.)
At home, Alma wants to blow bubbles outside even though it’s blazing hot.
I suffer for ten minutes, drenched in sweat. Then, I take her to look at animals at the pet store and buy a coloring book at the craft store. We emerge into a torrential downpour.
My husband works through the entire night.
He’s going out of town this week.
I watch Ray Donovan alone after the kids are asleep and cry into a glass of wine.
Looking on the bright side, there’s half a bottle left.
As I held my new niece for the very first time, I marveled at her perfect little face and how fragile and tiny she was. I was impressed by her full head of hair and the tiny lips already poised to smile in her sleep.
Then, I was relieved that she wasn’t mine.
Maybe it’s because the entire drive to Orlando, my children kept throwing their respective Spiderman and Hello Kitty balls on the floor of the car and whining that I needed to pick them back up.
Maybe it’s because my daughter wouldn’t stop yelling and waking her little brother up once he finally fell asleep.
Maybe it’s because my son threw a temper tantrum in the hospital room and started kicking me, then his Nana and then anyone in his general vicinity.
Or, maybe it was watching my daughter cower in front of her own family, melting into nothing because she was uncomfortable about the presence of a baby. She chose to peer out the window as if there was nothing more fascinating than the rooftop of the building next door.
Maybe it’s the dozen times this past weekend that I had to peel soggy undies over my son’s little legs. (along with a couple chunky poops) To say he’s regressed is an understatement. We’re starting from scratch.
Maybe it’s the previous day when we made the mistake AGAIN of going to the beach. We chose a closer one, but that didn’t stop my daughter from complaining about the duration of the trip.
Once we set up our mobile beach home, it wasn’t the sound of waves crashing on the shore or seagulls that filled the air.
It was, “There’s wind in my eye!” “There’s sunscreen in my eye!” “There’s sand on my hands!” “I want my shoes on!” “I want to go in the water!” “I want to go on the sand!” “I want more oranges!” (“We’re out of oranges, honey.” “I want more oranges!!!!”) “Put me deeper in the water!” “Take me closer to the shore!” “My belly hurts!”
All I could think is THANK GOD I have a week off coming up for my birthday. My plan was to have several days of “me time” with stress free trips to the beach, naps and reading for more than ten minutes without passing out from exhaustion. Then, we were going to do our first weekend without the kids since they were born. Stay at a hotel with a pool, drink too much, sleep too much and remember how much we actually enjoy each other’s company.
We drop off the kidlets at my in-laws after the beach so we can grab a couple of adult beverages and drink off the feeling that having kids at all was a giant mistake.
The first thing my mother-in-law says is that they’re heading to Vegas to celebrate their anniversary… the weekend of my birthday when we were going to get away. I die a little inside.
While having drinks, I tell my husband that life will get easier once Huck gets potty trained and that all I need is several days in a row where I can really work with him.
Big mistake. Now, it looks like instead of a staycation, I will be cleaning up piss and shit for a week. Can I just work instead?
So, yeah… that new baby smell does NOTHING for me. I’ll just use baby powder.
The cute itsy bitsy clothes? I’ll buy Alma a doll.
The thrilling feeling of bringing another human being into the world? Been there, done that, twice.
Maybe I would feel differently if one of my kids had been a dud. Maybe we hit the jackpot of batshit crazy and annoying. Maybe we’re not strict enough. Maybe it wouldn’t feel so difficult if I didn’t have to wrap up a shitty weekend and head back to a wretched job.
I love my children, but they are the little sticks of dynamite that have blasted my biological clock.
All that’s left are gears and cogs, tears and daydreams.
Congratulations to my big brother and his wife… and good luck with that.
All Corsa vacations are preceded by a moderate disaster.
One time we had to rush our French Bulldog to the emergency vet for a costly, time-consuming overnight visit that resulted in a diagnosis of “bad gas.”
Another night before leaving on a trip, my husband’s car stopped working.
Stomach bugs, pink eye, even a massive “bomb” dropping onto the hood of my car from the monkey puzzle tree in front of our old bungalow. It never fails.
This time, I take the dogs to get their vaccines so they will be up to date for a week at “camp” and the vet notices my Boston Terrier has a hematoma on his ear that will need to be drained.
Tack on 300 more bucks to what was already a hefty bill and my last day before vacation will be spent rushing him to and from the vet. (not to mention he will be wearing the cone of shame while being humped by strange dogs. Double shame.)
That night I also get ridiculously sick. So sick I call in to work at 3am. Yet, my boss text messages me at 6 in the morning and basically begs me to come in anyway.
I am miserable.
I haven’t washed my hair.
I can’t speak.
I end up leaving early to go to an after-hours clinic for a Z-pack.
While in recovery, I somehow develop a massive swollen gum in the space where my 4th wisdom tooth would’ve been… if I had one there. (but, I don’t) Now, I am kicking off my vacation with wicked jaw pain.
We’re on Cuban time, so my husband and I race around packing and dressing the kids (no small feat) (they have small feet) but then have to sit around wasting time for hours until the rest of the clan is ready to go.
Even then, we must depart in a group.
We’re going in separate cars, but it’s the soldier’s creed. No man left behind.
Anna Maria Island is beautiful and quaint, the vacation house ideal.
There’s a lagoon-like pool with a sometimes operable waterfall and a minimal amount of beach sand collected on the bottom.
We are two blocks from the beach.
This should be a great vacation, except for my aching jaw, endless stream of snot and the sensation I have plummeted instantaneously into the 1950’s.
I end up trapped in a bedroom with two insane children hopped up on VACATION, jumping around the bed we’re all expected to share while my husband is downstairs watching the World Cup.
Maybe it was the fear that this was going to become the anticipated routine.
Maybe it was the burgeoning revelation that the entire trip was secretly orchestrated to coincide with the World Cup in order to torture me.
Maybe it was all I could do to keep myself from racing through the home with a burning bra, but I stormed downstairs and demanded the keys to the car to go for a drive.
The next morning after being pummeled all night long by bony elbows and knees, awoken by the sound of my son grinding his teeth in his sleep and the pain in my whole face… I’m still ready to tackle my pre-women’s suffrage duties and help cook breakfast for the house of 12. (My family, my in-laws, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, her two kids, his two kids and one teenage friend of her son)
I remember that they cook their scrambled eggs with oil while I opt for butter or butter spray so they’ll probably find mine bland and inedible. I decide to go for the bacon and start to get the pan when my mother-in-law says, “You need to put it in the microwave first.”
I mentally throw my hands up and avoid cooking bacon for the rest of the trip.
The next day at the beach, Mother Nature valiantly came to my rescue.
I am obsessed with sharks. Terrified of them, adore them, secretly hope and dread for encounters with them.
The very first time I am watching my mother-in-law wade in the water with my daughter on her hip, I spot something unusual a couple of yards behind them. It looked like something pointy and dark sticking up out of the water.
Then there were two.
They were moving.
I walked toward abuela Corsa and made a hand motion for her to come toward me.
I could see clearly now there were at least two, possibly three sharks in the water.
I didn’t want to be “that guy” that shouts “SHARK!” and terrifies everyone at the beach. But, then again my mother-in-law is embracing my precious cargo and this scenario is like an unimaginable nightmare.
I remain calm even as my mother-in-law continues to demand to know why I am telling her to come to shore.
Other people see them too, so I have confirmation. These were not dolphins. I know what dolphins are. In fact, we saw some of those later in the day. Completely different swimming behavior.
The same day, we also watched a manatee lumbering along in the shallows.
Late afternoon, the summer storms roll in and I am watching them from our balcony. Billowing, fast-moving, dark clouds. Swirling, hinting at circulation. Palm trees whipping around like witches on broomsticks.
God bless you Mother Nature, you have shaken me from my stress-induced stupor.
The days that followed were filled with moments of joy, stress, hilarity and a healthy dose of awkward.
Perfect example of the latter: One of the said extraneous children along for the trip is about 9 years old.
He’s soft-spoken to the point of being irritating and even more bizarre than I was as a child.
He’s also a bit sneaky.
He and his sister appear to have some kind of arrangement that allows them to cheat and win at card games, hide each others’ crimes and possibly bury bodies in the backyard unnoticed.
At one point, my mother-in-law shouted that she saved me a piece of cheesecake.
Within a matter of seconds, I watched the boy grab the last piece and stick it inside an orange Dixie Cup so nobody would know he did it.
The night before I watched him go for some cheesecake in the freezer and when he saw me watching him, he rushed to open the freezer and put it back but his chicken-like arms were too weak to open the door.
He squeaked out a strange animalistic cry of frustration, like someone squeezed a rabbit REALLY hard.
To add insult to injury, a short while after he purloined MY piece of cheesecake, he shit it back out in the bathroom ATTACHED to our bedroom.
He is a Junior, so they call him “Tito.”
He shall henceforth be known as Cheesecake Tito to me.
Here’s another good one: In the afternoon, my husband was on the beach mercilessly teasing my sister-in-law and mother-in-law because they have decided they believe mermaids exist. Their scientific proof was viewed on a television show.
That night we’re playing Apples to Apples with the whole family with the exception of my sister-in-law’s boyfriend. He’s apparently holding some kind of grudge because he lost a game years ago to me over the definition of “The Big Bang Theory.”
So, while we’re playing we hear the sound of harmonious singing pouring from the open door to his room. It was like the bewitching melodies belted out by sirens, the ones who lure sailors to their deaths. The mermaids!
So, my husband says “He’s in there, unfurling his mermaid tail.”
I don’t know why, but this made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants.
I am a chortler. Maybe the occasional guffaw slips out. I NEVER laugh that hard.
I was crying, I was speaking in tongues, I was HAVING FUN.
Then there was the moment we were waiting for the trolley near a church and the truly Cuban members of the family decided to pose for a picture.
We ended up in Downtown Anna Maria Island, which for the record, does not exist. We were meandering down neighborhood streets looking like lost Okies drenched in sweat.
But, there were magical moments.
I watched my daughter discover the joy of being slammed by waves, overcoming her perpetual fear of the ocean.
I saw my son kick around a soccer ball with the big boys until sweat was dripping off his little melon head.
I saw sharks, I laughed until I cried and I drank more beer than seems humanly possible.
Yes, I was impaled nightly by little kid limbs. I spent much time trapped in bed watching PBS kid shows on the lousy cable while everyone else screamed about the World Cup downstairs.
I got a sun rash and gained five pounds. (my weird tooth issue resolved itself after days of gargling salt water)
But, it’s still the best vacation we’ve had with the kids since they were born. Good enough that my poor son is still grieving.
I am too.
Little known facts I’ve learned from my Cuban familia.
1. Titties are an acceptable topic of conversation. The use of the words “titties” or “tetas” is also acceptable.
2. If you are embarrassed for people to see you in your pajamas, breastfeeding or if you refuse to eat food they provide, you lose your Honorary Cuban card.
3. Traveling in herds is preferable.
4. Baby genitalia are cute and/or funny.
5. All meals must include rice.
6. All meals must be followed by Espresso.
7. If you do not own and/or use a pressure cooker you are NOT Cuban.
8. A trip to the beach requires a moving van. (and a POD)
9. Holiday dinners are preceded by a heartfelt speech during which other family members can mock you or take pot shots.
10. If you can’t stand up for yourself, stand somewhere else. You do not belong.
11. Cuban time does exist. You must turn your clock back a full hour when planning.
12. It ain’t a real party without a pinata.
13. Yellow rice is actually orange and best cooked with PBR.
14. Forget everything you knew about Thanksgiving turkey. You’ve been doing it ALL WRONG.
15. Don’t ever insult a Cuban woman’s cooking, even if it’s Bacalao and smells like rotting, farting flesh.
I have an Easter hangover and it has nothing to do with alcohol.
I’ve had the revelation that far too many holidays or special occasions involve parents not sleeping.
Christmas: Buying presents without the children knowing about it is nearly impossible unless you shop online. Then you open the boxes to discover damaged goods, wrong sizes etc. but it’s too late to send it back and get the right stuff on time.
You also have to hide the wrapping paper or you will end up concocting some bullshit story about Santa having the room for a bazillion gazillion presents, but needing the hookup on wrapping paper.
You spend all night stuffing stockings, putting presents under the tree so your kids can wake you up before dawn and destroy EVERYTHING you worked so hard on.
The Tooth Fairy: It’s the ultimate test of your parenting ninja skills. You have to be sure they’re soundly asleep and then sneak like a burglar into their room and steal something under their pillow. If THAT doesn’t wake them up, then you have another shot when you place the actual money under the pillow.
Easter: Again, waiting until the kids fall asleep so you can put candy in Easter eggs and hide them all over the house.
The kids literally have chocolate for breakfast. I caught my son sneaking chocolate eggs on his own several times before 9am. He had a chocolate clown face smile.
Then, it’s off to abuela’s house where she has jelly beans and cupcakes and ice cream. The kids are eating bunny shaped lollypops and skipping naptime.
Back at home that night, it’s a complete fiasco. They’re hopped up on sugar, bouncing off the walls, refusing to eat any real food or take a bath.
My husband actually started to time it during dinner. They could only go about 5 to 10 minutes between crying jags.
By the time they finally go to bed (kicking and screaming) I am starting to get a sore throat.
This morning, I wake up sick and am so tired at work my eyes are rolling back in my head like I’m possessed by a demon.
Three cups of crappy station coffee later and I feel like I’m having a panic attack. I’m pacing back and forth in the break room like a zoo animal held captive too long. My leg has Parkinson’s. It’s doing a solo Lindy Hop.
Last night I asked my husband, “Did they have fun?”
What I am really asking is, “Did they have fun, because I’m in holiday hell right now and if they DIDN’T have fun we are officially becoming Atheists so we don’t EVER have to celebrate a holiday again!!”
The first word out of my son’s mouth this morning, “Chocolate.” He can’t even pronounce his own name properly, but says “chocolate” with impeccable diction.
From now on we will only celebrate National Lazy Day. It involves not cooking, not cleaning, not consuming sugar, remaining horizontal and periodic naps. At this moment, I despise all of you childless bastards because you can have Lazy Day WHENEVER YOU WANT.
I just started on the HCG diet again.
I like to disaffectedly refer to it as the Help Control the Gut diet.
I won’t bother describing it. It works, removing fat from all of the right places during an insanely short amount of time.
It sounds awesome, if you don’t mind being perpetually exhausted and on the verge of passing out.
There are a plethora of subversive ways my life plots to derail the diet.
I go to my mother-in-law’s house and the evening begins with beer, nachos and queso. My father-in-law doesn’t even ask, just hands me a beer. I mean, when do I EVER say no to a beer?
My daughter asks me to blow on her nacho cheese which means I will inevitably have to touch it with my tongue or lips to be sure it’s not too hot. Biggest tease ever.
Thankfully no one notices I am steadily chugging water. I had no idea you could grow to HATE water.
The endless course meal moves on to toasted bread with olive spread. My mother-in-law asks me if I like sun dried tomatoes. I say yes, but I won’t be having any because because I am back on the dreaded diet. (She is aware of how said wretched diet works)
She says, “NO, no, no. I cooked all of this food. You are going to eat. No, no. You have to eat.”
I never know how to respond to statements like that. “Uh, no?” Awkward, awkward, awkward.
Then I get to watch as everyone eats rice and chicken along with assorted goodies, the kids sneaking Hershey’s Kisses and cookies.
Yesterday, I meet my husband and the kids at our favorite waterfront dive for lunch and he immediately slides a beer over and says, “This is yours.”
So sweet, yet so evil.
I had to push it back and instead choke down a drink with Club Soda that tastes like lighter fluid and is actually a “cheat” on the diet.
My daughter is great at sharing. I am so proud and so sick of her trying to force-feed me gold fish, fish sticks and mac n’ cheese.
Now, the world begins to conspire against me. We turn the clocks ahead an hour. My son is up late coughing and crying because he’s sick. My daughter wakes up from a nightmare at midnight demanding milk.
I drive to work, eyes half closed drinking black coffee. (which is allowed, but no other food until noon)
This means I am still falling asleep at work AND the coffee is shredding my stomach.
At lunchtime I have to walk past the vending machines to get to my pathetic portion of meat and veggies in the fridge. I NEVER notice the vending machines until I am on this diet. Now, I would stab a bitch for a corn chip.
Newsrooms are notorious for cakes, cookies, cupcakes, chocolate and everything bad. People just plunk it down on a desk for anyone to take, free of charge. Today, no naughty free crap trying to lure me away from the diet. But, someone has already offered me a Watchamacallit.
So, I sit here lips burning and fingers sticky from peeling an orange. I hate peeling oranges more than most people hate cleaning the toilet.
I have already started dreaming about carbs. I literally dreamed I was eating Tofu Woon Sen. It’s just vegetables, tofu and clear noodles… a meal most would consider “healthy.”
For me, it’s one more pair of pants I have to abandon forever to the widening abyss of items to donate to Goodwill that is my closet. It’s a living, breathing, gaping chasm, hungry for more.
But, not as hungry as I am right now.
I’ve never done crack or heroin, but carbs can’t be that far behind. I would eat uncooked grains of rice or raw pasta. I would snort bread crumbs.
Keep me away from all sharp objects.
The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But, we live in a day and age where parents get divorced, siblings spread out across the country and the only people willing to watch your child want to discuss their “fee.”
If the Tsetse fly gets me, there’s no passing my kid off to another gal in the tribe.
A couple days ago, I came down with a stomach virus. I called it the sick cruise without the “cruise.”
As I made my every five-minute dash from the bed to the bathroom, I could hear my husband’s groans of irritation with the kids growing louder as the night wore on. If dramatic sighs were a sport, he’d be an Olympian.
I tried to take over at one point, lying on the couch while the kids watched television, but within minutes had to say, “Mommy has to go potty.”
There is nothing worse in a family than a “man down.” (or woman down)
My mother-in-law broke her arm this past week when she fell while cleaning the top of the fridge. My father-in-law posted about it on Facebook, but it was in Spanish. For several minutes I was trying to figure out why she jumped from the fridge, hurt her arm and they turned into Tarzan and Jane. There was a Tarzan reference, but clearly my Spanish isn’t that great.
All it takes is one member of the family down, even the extended one, to derail all plans. She was supposed to watch the kids so we could celebrate my husband’s birthday this weekend with a rare overnight alone. Now, we’re trying to figure out how we can survive a couple hours at the race track with two kids. (Can you even take kids there? It seems illegal. Those places always reek of cigar smoke and seem to be teeming with aged sex offenders)
When I finally felt good enough to at least pick up the kids from daycare, I told my daughter I was taking them to Boston Market because “Mommy is too sick to cook.” She said, “Then I won’t talk to you.” I said, “What?” She said, “When you’re sick, I won’t talk to you.” So, at some point I must’ve scared the bejeesus out of her when I was ill. I can totally picture it: Me lying on the floor, writhing in agony and her bothering me about where her bunny’s blanket is and me shouting, “DON’T TALK TO ME. I’M SICK!!!”
Instead of being able to ask my mom for a hand, I’m text messaging her that I’m slowly dying of digestive failure.
Instead of being able to ask my mother-in-law for a hand, well… I’m just glad she still has a hand after the whole swinging from a fridge incident.
It takes a village, but we’re all in the “isolation hut” now. Not just reserved for menstruating ladies anymore. When there’s a man down, you suddenly wish you were better neighbors.
It takes a village. It also takes a team.
Last night my daughter started to cry in her bedroom. My husband found her hiccuping and burping.
Being astute, he rushed her to the bathroom where she promptly blew chunks across the tile floor.
We’re like an elite hazmat crew, working at high speeds, silently triaging the scene. My husband’s running the tub and whipping off her pajamas. I’m grabbing a plastic bag and every cleaning product created.
Within 15 minutes, we’ve got her sleeping in bed with minty fresh breath. I’m like a crime scene cleanup tech. You could sell that bathroom without anyone being the wiser to the gore it’s seen.
Props to any single parents out there. If I was one, I would just crawl under a vomit-stained bath mat and cry until DCF showed up.
Here’s me before having kids:
“I’m not going to be one of those parents who won’t travel because it’s too difficult with children. I’ll just take an umbrella stroller, a Baby Bjorn and we’ll hop a flight to Barcelona.”
Sounds like a joke, but it’s not. We seriously considered taking a trip to Spain the year our daughter was born. We checked out hotels with cribs you can rent and planned day trips to a beach nearby.
We weren’t just naive. We were morons.
Our first trip with our daughter was stressful, but tolerable. We simply visited my mother in South Carolina and drove to see my Dad and his wife in North Carolina and then flew back home.
We weren’t anticipating conceiving our second child with so much ease, so that was the last relatively simple trip we will EVER take in our LIFE.
The next vacation was to Key West with the entire Cuban Cluster. (See previous post)
We figured if we just packed like champs, it would be a breeze. The Cluster drove. It’s just a short flight from St. Pete to the Keys. We figured that would be better than driving for several hours with screaming, miserable kids, right?
We found ourselves in the airport parking lot, what seems like miles from the terminal with two small children, two hulking car seats, one massive stroller and three big bags packed with all of the crap you could possibly need. What could you need during a four-day trip to Key West? Diapers, wipes, formula, sunscreen, tons of clothes because they will destroy them all with vomit, pee and poop, medicine, (because all children inevitably get sick the day before a vacation) books, toys and blankets. By the time we figured out the logistics of just checking in, which was nearly impossible, I was drenched in sweat, my blood pressure was through the roof and I just wanted to go back to work.
Even if your kids don’t scream and cry on the flight, they will wiggle, kick and even laugh too loudly. They will want food and milk and the one toy you forgot to pack.
Key West was sweltering and you have to walk everywhere. Slather the kids in sunscreen, walk a marathon and then you can’t even get blitzed because you’re with your whole family and oh, yeah … the kids are there. Nothing like watching the whole rest of the world have a blast on vacation while you suffer.
While middle-aged women with frosted hair are guzzling Mojitos, you’re in a muddy bathroom without A/C trying to change a diaper on the floor because restaurants just assume nobody would be stupid enough to bring a baby to Key West.
Our children simply can’t hang with the idea of sleeping somewhere different. My son was probably six months old at the time. If he could’ve talked he would’ve been saying, “This f&^ing Pack ‘N Play is a bunchabullshit.” He woke up every single hour. We took turns, but when it’s that frequent ain’t NOBODY sleepin’.
My daughter slept in bed with us, but only when we would sleep with her. It was an 8 p.m. curfew, the next two hours spent staring at the ceiling, getting kicked repeatedly and wondering why we ever had children.
Trips around town were strung together by a series of meltdowns. A store accused my daughter of breaking a maraca that probably cost .10 cents to make. My husband and I took turns consoling my hysterical son during dinner at a fancy restaurant. A lunch was ruined by my daughter screaming for no apparent reason.
My amazing mother-in-law did watch the kids for an afternoon, so the rest of us could go snorkeling. I had a blast, but my husband and sister-in-law nearly barfed on the ride back to shore.
But, that all didn’t stop us from trying to go on vacation with the kids again. And we decided to drive!
That’s a story for another time.
To say marrying into a Cuban family was a culture shock would be an understatement.
I’m not making a blanket statement about all Cubans, just sharing what I’ve learned about MY Cubans.
Prepare yourself to be offended. Most topics that white people would consider gauche are not only acceptable topics for My Cubans, they are the preferred ones.
When I was expecting my son, I was regaled with stories about how huge my husband’s balls were when he was born. And tales of his cousin swallowing shit when he came through the birth canal.
I was encouraged to breast feed in front of the family. “It’s natural,” they said. Maybe in Africa, the remote parts where they don’t have DOORS.
The other day during lunch at Chili’s, the first hot topic was foreskin. My poor teenage nephew looked like he was going to shrivel up and die in the pan of queso.
The second hot topic came about because I was being harassed again for refusing to eat Bacalao. (See previous post.) This led to an anecdotal reference to a Cuban song about a guy who smells something delicious cooking in the kitchen, which turns out to be women boiling their underwear.
My mother-in-law randomly told us the other day exactly how many times she had diarrhea. When you look at her in shock, she says, “What??”
Oversharing is considered casual conversation, which means I probably seem like a stick in the mud. In reality, us white folk are probably too hung up on what other people think about us. My Cubans are right. This is the real and quite literal crap that happens to all of us.
Now, let’s talk about kissing. I remember when I met my mother’s British friend in Miami at an outdoor market, and he leaned in to give me the customary South Florida kiss on the cheek. I stretched backwards like Keanu in the Matrix.
I have a very definite body buffer zone. Burst it and you shall die. What I didn’t know when I met my husband was that it’s actually a required kiss on the cheek every single time you meet and again when you say goodbye. Cuban families are not generally small and they tend to move in clusters. It’s a lot of kissing.
Which brings me to goodbyes. The world’s longest, most drawn-out goodbyes. Over the phone, in person … doesn’t matter. Goodbye will lead to discussion about the next time you’ll see them, what currently ails them, what the week will hold and how’s the weather.
I’ve learned that when my Cuban family yells, they’re just “passionate.”
When my children are behaving like brats, they just have “strong personalities.”
My Cubans will never let something go, like forcing a daughter-in-law to eat stinky fish.
But, they don’t hold grudges. Family is family forever, no matter how often they screw you over. They have what most consider an “indomitable spirit.” (Which has to come from living in a country where survival is dependent on being resourceful and resilient)
My mother-in-law told me about how the government only issues you one bucket in order to wash your newborn baby. One bucket per family. When they fled Cuba, they gave their bucket to a neighbor and the government took it back within days.
One thing you will never be in a Cuban family is bored. (Unless you’re my 15-year-old nephew, who thinks that almost everything is boring.) Or hungry. You’ll definitely never be hungry.