Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The O's Do Disney, Part One

"It's morning, time to get up..." I say sweetly to my three sleeping sons. "We're leaving in about half an hour."
I've had my shower, done my hair, finished packing my suitcase, and am ready for them to start moving. It's 7:30 am and we have a noon flight out of Bellingham.

We are going to Disneyland to celebrate all the good things that have happened this year - like me turning 50.

"Guys? Can you get up please? We have to get a move on."

I load the dishwasher and clean up the messes that are the result of having all three boys home.

"We have to go. Can you get up?"

I don't want to have this day start like all our school days did; with me yelling and threatening and getting angry. I want them to WANT to get up. I need for them to take responsibility for getting up.

"What's your problem? Just calm down," I'm told as they saunter out of their bedrooms.

"It's a stat holiday - the border is going to be packed. Let's go...."

Last minute packing ensues.

"Seriously? When I said, get packed up last night, what were you doing?" I ask, trying to keep upbeat and cheerful.

Danica, whom we were going to pick up on our way, has arrived. She's likely never seen a family so not ready to leave on a trip.

At 9 am, we're ready to go. "I don't have my passport. We have to stop at dad's place."

I am biting my tongue and getting a very sore stomach. This is not going well.

"It's on the way, so it's no big deal," he reassures me.

"We're so late. We're going to miss our flight."

While he's trying to get into his dad's house, we listen to the traffic news on the radio. A minimum of two hour waits at all the border crossings. We are at least half an hour away from the border. Plus we have another half hour drive on the other side, to get to the airport. Our flight leaves in 3 hours.

"There's no way we're making going to get to the airport on time," I say as I mentally do the math.

"It won't be that bad. We'll be fine."

The passport is procured, and we head south. I am fighting tears of sadness and spouts of rage. Plus I am overtired. This is not how vacations should start. Why does everything have to be so hard? Why can't they trust me when I say, "It's time to get up"? I am running through the options of how to get a vacation out of this mess, because I know we're missing our flight, and it's not like we can simply catch the next one. I bought cheap tickets on a discount airline, and they only fly into Long Beach once or twice a week. I am at a loss. I feel defeated and am overcome with a sense of hopelessness. I've got poison in my attics to deal with rodents. I've just organized three galas. I can't seem to get on top of my work load at the office. And I need a stress-free weekend to recharge my batteries.

We get to 176th Street at 9:30 am. The line up starts at 16th Ave. This is not a two hour line up. It's a four hour line up. Again I say, "We are not going to make our flight."

Max, the family's optimist, says, "Now let's not hear that kinda talk. We're good. We're going to get there on time, you'll see."

By 9:45 am we've moved ahead 7 car lengths and that's only because 5 cars ahead of us aborted the lineup and left.

I don't know what to do. I've got us this far (finding 4 days in this calendar year that all 4 of us have free. Buying airline tickets, pre-purchasing and printing off two-day park hopper passes for us all, making reservations at a motel with a pool, free wifi and complimentary breakfasts, renting a van, getting US cash, paying off my Visa, printing off directions on how to get from the Long Beach airport to our hotel...) I've done all that, and have no capacity for how to get us to the airport on time.

A tear escapes. I wipe it away before anyone notices. Clint has started suggesting alternate plans. I don't say anything.

And then.
And then, Max, who is sitting directly behind me in the truck, reaches his hands forward and places them on my shoulder blades. (I've watched Danica do this to Drew when he's tense while in the driver's seat, and it's seems like such a gentle, warm, positive way to calm him.) (To clarify; when I drive them somewhere, he actually drives. I sit in the passenger seat. Danica sits in the back. This will change once he has a full license. Then I will hide in the backseat.) (Just kidding. Danica will sit in the passenger seat and I won't ever see them again.)

I stop breathing. I have a son who has, of his own accord, placed his hands on me. This does not happen. No one even sits on the same couch as me. When they all reached teenaged-hood, they became extremely 'hands off'. If I even placed my hand on their arm they would hiss, "don't touch me" and twist out of my reach.(I had gone to a single-parenting class years ago when I first got that new title, and one of the things that was stressed, was how important it would be that my sons see me be the recipient of hugs and non-sexual touching. Hahaha. Like that was an option. I don't come from a huggy family, and sure didn't have any friends who were touchy-feely either. So I got a fail in this part of the course.)

Anyways, here we are. On 176th Street. Me, shocked and thrilled, to have a boy gently rubbing my back, and another one trouble-shooting our dilemma.

"Holy cow mom! Tense much?" Max looks at his brothers. "It's like massaging a cinderblock. Her back is hard as rock. The whole thing is one big stress knot." He pokes my back in various spots to show them.

"I don't know what to do." I say, weakly.
"So we're not going?" Drew challenges me. "That's it?"
We've invited Danica to join us. She's never been to Disneyland and it's always funner to share someone's joy when they are discovering the happiest place on earth for the first time. Plus, Drew is nicer to me when she's around. He is now desperate for this holiday to go as planned.
"We aren't going at all?"

With Max kneading knots out of my back, I suggest, "Well, I guess we could make this a road trip. We'll just drive."
Max counts the drivers in the truck and agrees, it probably would work.
Clint googles how long it would take. "Twenty one hours. We'd get there tomorrow morning at 6 am."
"And, those that have to be back on Monday night, will use the return tickets and fly home. Max and I will have to drive back."
"We need another idea," Max suggests.

Clint thinks we should ditch the truck at the side of the road and run to the border (2 miles away) with our luggage. Then catch a cab on the other side and get him to drop us off at the airport.

"That's so crazy it just might work."

Clint googles taxi's in Blaine and talks to a driver. Yes, he can pick us up in 15 minutes at the border crossing. Yes, it'll take about half an hour to get to the airport. Yes, it'll cost about $50.

I seem to remember hearing, though, that a car lineup outside, means that there is likely a walk-in lineup of foot traffic inside - and I'm not sure how long it'll take to clear customs once we've gotten to the border.

"I'll run ahead," Clint offers. "I'll let you know how long the lineup is. If it looks doable, I'll call you."
"But what about that big suitcase? How are we going to get that all the way there?"
(This discount airline I chose, charges $70 for checked baggage, so I had all the kids pack their stuff in carry ons. I paid for one checked bag, and made sure it was the biggest one I had. All the extra clothes and toiletries were in that massive piece of luggage.)
"Don't worry about that. That is not an issue at all. We'll look after that."

Clint googles our location on 16th Ave and his phone tells him it's a 27 minute walk.
"I'll run and should be there  in 15 minutes. I'll call you."
And with that, he was off, with just his backpack.

Those of us in the truck discuss this idea at length. I am the weak link. I am not in shape for a 2 mile run. I did not dress appropriately for a two mile run. I am wearing heels. Three inch heels. I have been sitting for ten years. I am scared.

Clint calls, "I am fifth in line. We can do this. Come. Now."

I pull a quick U Turn out of the south-heading line and park at the side of the road. Drew grabs my backpack and his carry on, Max takes the big suitcase, his backpack and his carry on, Danica pulls her carry on and slings her purse over her shoulder. They start running.

I follow. Feeling like my grandma. Who, escaping a war-torn country, fled across Europe, with her children and all they could carry, crossing borders and arranging transport in an effort to get to Canada.

The kids pull ahead of me in minutes. I see ahead of me, Max sprinting with my huge suitcase down Pacific Hwy, followed by Drew and Danica, holding hands, pulling luggage, jogging.

I am out of breath. I am wheezing. My legs are on fire. My muscles are screaming. My lungs can't get enough air. I have been running for 4 minutes. The border looks like it's on the other side of the earth.

We are going to miss this flight because of me. Because I can't run in heels with all this extra weight. And the worst part? I have an audience. Hundreds (thousands?) of bored folks in their cars are watching me limp and wheeze and gasp for air and hold my side as I waddle down the side of the highway.

"Dear God.


Andrew said...

"We are going to miss this flight because of me."

Did you forget about the rest of the morning? :)

Glad you all made it there and back again!

Anonymous said...

"We are going to miss this flight because of me."

Seriously?? Your kids need a smack upside the head for putting you through all that. Next time, tell them what time you're leaving, and then leave at that time. Any unused flight tickets come out of their pocket. Why are you blaming yourself?

Anonymous said...

What's happening?????