Sunny days, sweeping those clouds away

photo-369We live a mere 35 minutes from Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA, so it’s inevitable that we will go from time to time. This weekend was that time. The park sells a 2-day pass that is the same price as a 1-day pass, so we went on both Saturday and Sunday.

It was…well, it was how lots of things are with little kids. I recently read an essay in Conde Nast Traveler from a woman who hauled her three small children to Denmark. I had considered doing that this summer, and then thought better of it. She went through with it, and had moments of genuine fun in the middle of a lot of general difficulty, and some truly awful moments. Her kids got ill during the trip, for instance. I’m glad mine did not at Sesame (though we witnessed the aftermath of another family’s puking incident). Nonetheless, this ratio — some moments of amazement, a lot of hassle — is about normal.

Saturday I wished I had worn my FitBit. I stopped wearing it several months ago (I’m tracking time, I’m watching my diet, I don’t feel like dealing with steps too). But since I started the day with a lovely 8-mile run, and then spent the afternoon and evening walking around the park, I’m sure it was well into 25k badge territory. We stayed until the final parade at 9 p.m., and then we got ice cream at Baskin Robbins on the way home. I liked my ice cream but in general I felt that I spent much of the day holding the baby and watching the 3-year-old while my husband did rides with the big kids. So when we decided to go back on Sunday, I asked to do more of the big kid stuff.

For the most part, I did. I had moments of pure fun, going (twice!) down a remote water slide that, unlike the rest of the park, had zero line. My 8-year-old and I raced down. He beat me, sagely following the advice of the person in front of us who instructed him on streamlining himself by having as little skin as possible touching the slide. I rode next to my 5-year-old on a few rides, and for one quiet moment in the giant pool area, my 3-year-old sat on my lap and snuggled and giggled. We all enjoyed our soft serve ice cream in waffle cones.

Of course, there was a lot of crabbiness too. The kids didn’t eat much of their over-priced dinners on Saturday (Sunday we made them eat sandwiches in the car on the way there instead). The 5-year-old is obsessed with carnival games, and always wants to do those, which strikes me as essentially burning a $20 bill. OK, to be fair, he won some small stuffed animals, so if we were going to have to pay a tax in plush, that was more economical than buying a big Big Bird. I took the baby on the Lazy River and he hated it. He screamed the whole time, and there is nothing less relaxing than being on the Lazy River with a screaming baby. We faced the fun of the 3 children who can speak all wanting to do something different, and each insisting loudly on his/her choice.

Yet for all this, I will probably remember it as a pretty good summer weekend. The kids would whine and fight at home too. At least in this version, I got to go down a giant water slide.

In other news: The Friday night 8-year-old book club was awesome. The kids discussed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for a solid 30 minutes before things deteriorated. Then we had pizza and went in the pool. We got to play big kid games like sharks and minnows and Marco Polo. It was like a glimpse into my future life, though I suspect that when my kids are teenagers I will not be allowed to participate in the pool party beyond bringing snacks.

Sources for stories: I’m working on a piece this week on “how to create your own retreat.” Have you ever created your own mini-retreat? What was the goal, what did it involve, and how did it go? Feel free to comment or email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com.

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