Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Few Days with the Cousins, part one

or, as an alternate title, "Why I Don't Have Five Kids"

As Spring Break 2009 approached, I was excited about the relaxation and possibilities it would bring. I was ready, oh so ready, for the luxurious days of no work. In fact, I even started my own personal spring break a little early, spending my seventh period conference on Friday in the comfort of my classroom eating a Cadbury Cream Egg and watching the Lady Aggies win a basketball game. Granted, it wasn't the most productive way to spend my last few hours of work before the sweet release of the school bell, but I decided I've been working hard enough to earn it.

Before I left school, I called my mom. She knew we were heading to Rice for a quick visit, and I was just checking in before we hit the road. She had left me a message earlier in the day wondering if I wanted to bring my two nephews and niece back to College Station with me for a few days. So we talked briefly about how I was glad to bring them here for a visit, and we decided to work out the details of their return trip to Rice a little later.

Then I started making mistakes.

Instead of coming home to pack and picking the boys up from school on the way out of town, I stopped to get them first. While I threw underwear and extra socks into a duffel bag, Tucker packed snacks for the trip and Keaton started packing his own bag.

Keaton preferred the rolling backpack to the duffel I decided we could share. He had to work hard to get it, opening the door to the extra closet and pulling out suitcases, wrapping paper, and board games before he could finally uncover the amazing rolling bag. There was no need to put all of those things back, of course, because the maid would be by later to take care of it. Oh wait, we don't have a maid. He must have forgotten.

Tucker packed a healthy little cooler of snacks, complete with bottled water, pop tarts, and about two dozen Oreos. In his defense, it is about a two hour and fifteen minute trip. We could've died from Oreo starvation in that time. He probably saved our lives.

The previously clean house was now a disaster of suitcase and Oreo crumb proportions, and we left it that way. It was Spring Break, and we were headed to Grandma and Pop's.

We stopped to pick up Trey from work, then turned the truck northward.

The pouring rain made it clear that this would be no leisurely drive. After all, it hasn't rained here in several months, so most people had forgotten that cars still work in the rain. In fact, they needed to slow down to thirty or even forty miles per hour on the highway because they were afraid the rain would somehow injure their automobiles. No one wants to make one of those pesky insurance claims because the rain hit his car too hard as he drove down the highway. Driving extra slow was the frugal thing to do.

Of course we needed gas, but the first station we stopped at didn't have any open spaces for gas or parking. We waved goodbye to that crowded place and stopped at the next one. Trey braved the sub-fifty degree temperatures and rain to gas us up for the trip. Now, finally, we were good to go!

About 45 miles down the road, we heard the familiar, "I have to go to the bathroom" from one of the boys. You're not going to believe this, but in all of my motherly wisdom I actually told them to go to the bathroom before we left the house. Wouldn't you know it, they didn't have to go then. But they had to go now, so we needed to stop.

Trey suggested McDonald's because we knew it would make the boys happy and we're all about making them happy.

Wait, actually he suggested that we go to McDonald's because it would cause the least amount of whining and fighting between the boys, and we were willing to eat some nasty Mickey D's in order to NOT listen to any of that.

Just as we announced to the boys that we'd be stopping at McDonald's for dinner and potty breaks, we notice the parking lot of said restaurant. It was so full that there was only one lonely spot left for us. We could see the lines of people inside and wanted so badly to bolt to the Sonic across the street, but we had told the boys McDonald's. We had committed. No matter how many millions of cars in the lot, we were having happy meals. and we were going to be happy about it.

It wasn't until we were inside that we saw the tour bus parked on the other side of the restaurant, and the lines fifteen people deep coming from the restrooms, and the line at the register that threatened at any moment to stretch out the door into the pouring rain.

But we persevered. I stood in the food line while Trey took the boys to the bathroom. When they got back we traded and they stood in the food line while I stood in the potty line. Four to-go burgers and thirty long minutes later, we were back on the road.

I dropped ketchup on my shirt twice because the first time didn't sufficiently ruin it, but other than that the rest of the drive was uneventful. We finally arrived at Grandma and Pop's. Spring Break had finally begun.

Or so we thought.

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