Running From the Cops

The other day we were talking about teaching my 10 year old to drive the wave runner by herself. She is tall and she always wants to drive, but having her sit in front of someone is difficult since you can’t see around her Amazonian body and Mowgli hair. In the middle of this conversation between me and my dad, my mom stopped us and said “you know it’s illegal for her to drive those alone right?” to which we both stared at her like she was speaking Greek. I quickly said “Only if she gets caught!” And this is where it is clear I am my father’s daughter, and my child is following right down those rebellious misguided footsteps. We all looked at my mom like she was crazy to say out loud that breaking the law was probably not a good idea.

My Dad gave me my first motorcycle ride before I was a year old. Apparently I caught a cold shortly thereafter and my grandma quickly put the blame on the bike so I wasn’t allowed back on until I was 3. I also got my first helmet that year. It was orange and loud and too big. I loved it, and I loved the motorcycle. So much in fact, that by the time I was seven I was demanding to ride alone. My dad made me show him that I could hold it upright unassisted and operate it alone before I was able to take my virgin solo ride. By the time I was ten I was a little terror in the trails down the street and ripping up the baseball field at the elementary school. I was also very clear on the rules which were “if you see a cop, turn off the bike and say you are out of gas and waiting for your dad to come back.” I was then to walk it home with the cops following me. I partook in this parade quite a few times before the police finally told my mom if it happened again they would see that I did not receive a license to drive at 16. I guess I shouldn’t have been all that concerned since I actually drove myself to driver’s education classes in my own car at the age of fifteen, but at the time it scared my mom enough to make my dad sell the bike. Although that was just the beginning of my tendency to push the limits, the lesson I learned was you don’t get in trouble unless you get caught.

This lesson has trickled down to my daughter. Fortunately, she isn’t doing anything she feels the need to hide from me yet, and with my experience in jackassery, she will probably have a hard time doing so. Right now she is still wondering if she is allowed to do things on her own and when she is given a yes by mom or grandpa she follows up with dad or grandma to get the real story. I just keep telling her not to worry. She won’t get caught and if she does, mom will be in trouble which is a pretty familiar place for mom to be. Apparently my kid is totally okay with me paying the price for her misdeeds as well since as soon as I explained I would be in trouble for making her drive, she grabbed the keys and tried to take off on me. Luckily, the wave runner takes a few seconds to start or we may not have seen her again until she ran out of gas. Although, she drives like a grandma, so I probably could have caught up to her with a quick doggy paddle.

I have had a lot of great experiences in my life, party because I was not afraid of much. I have had some bad experiences for the same reason, but that is a whole different story. Little things like laws and rules have rarely deterred me from trying something new and have often times made me learn a new skill, like jumping off a roof with a skateboard or moving through spaces that are too narrow for a cop car to follow. I am hoping that my kid can learn some of these life lessons from my stories rather than having to touch the ot burner herself, but only time will tell. For now, I am grateful that she will take a chance now and then but drive slow enough for her mom to still catch her.

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Die, Die My Darling

While boating the other day, I told my dad we were trying to kill him. An hour later my husband and dad almost killed me. Karma sometimes acts pretty quickly. Seriously karma, I was just kidding! Not that my husband trying to kill me is anything new. In fact, I’m pretty sure he has been working on a plan since the day we were married based on the amount of “accidents” I have had in the last 16 years. I am going to ignore the fact that I am accident prone here.

Let me start by saying that my kid and I are daredevils. When it comes to dangerous activities, we are all in. So needless to say, when we go rafting, we are the ones screaming “faster” as we bounce along the water. Saturday was no exception. My dad spent the better part of his afternoon pulling me and mini me around the lake on a raft. My mom spent the better part of her afternoon having a panic attack and covering her eyes. At one point we were almost completely sideways on the raft. I looked down and I was literally on top of my kid as we bounced over a wave. On the same trip around the lake my dad nearly plowed us into a family of ducks as he turned and we flew out to the side of the boat. Luckily it was not a family of swans or they would have popped our raft and pecked our faces off.

After an hour of my mom glaring at my dad he took her to shore. The thrill seekers were still up for more rafting so we took one of the wave runners out dragging the little two person bouncer behind. Everyone took a turn riding and driving. I didn’t drive since I drive one speed no matter if I am alone or dragging bodies behind me. I have been told that 55 is too fast for rafting. But I learned that you can injure yourself at any speed. My husband was going only 9 mph when he almost killed me. After the old man and mini me took a trip around the water she decided she wanted me back there with her so my dad took over the spotter duty while my husband drove. We were just getting ready to head back in when the men decided it would be fun to whip us around in a circle so my husband proceeded to spin around at single digit speeds while we circled. We had gone around twice when all of a sudden we were air born. A wave came out of nowhere and we hit it like a ski jump.

Both passengers were able to hold on with one hand, but we came down fast and hard. I landed on my side and was immediately pummeled in my ribs. I was clinging to the raft wondering who threw a bowling ball at me when I heard crying from above. My daughter was sitting on my rib cage right under my armpit holding her mouth and crying. She had apparently bitten her tongue. I eased her off me and tried to see inside her mouth while not moving. I felt like a baby holding it’s breath right before an enormous scream comes out, but no scream came, just small gasps. When we finally got back to shore, I slid off the raft and walked onto the beach still gasping for breath. I have had the wind knocked out of me on many occasions so I knew it would take a minute or two to catch my breath, but when five minutes went by and I still couldn’t suck in any substantial amount of air I was getting a little nervous. It didn’t help that three people were in my face asking if I was okay. I couldn’t get enough air to talk which was the scariest part. Not being able to talk for 10 seconds is torture for me. I would rather be water boarded than not be able to spew every thought in my head for five minutes. Since I couldn’t argue, being unable to speak and all, I was at the mercy of my family when they insisted that I go to urgent care to get an X-ray.

Luckily, I managed to worm my way out of actually seeing a doctor. One urgent care was closed and the other one didn’t have an X-ray machine (seriously!) so we headed home where I splayed my body on the couch with a bell while my family waited on me. I argued that even if I had fractured ribs there was nothing they could do anyway. I guess my husband figured if I was well enough to argue with him, I was well enough to carry on. I’m guessing I’ll discover some abnormality six months from now while getting a massage, which is the same way I found out I had a rib in my back that managed to flip over the wrong way and stick out under my arm. Until then, as long as I can get enough breath to keep ordering my family around, all is well.

**I wrote this while listening to the Beastie Boys takeover of XMU which is the best station to have on while driving around to urgent care centers!

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Pandemic Vacation

My daughter has spent the last six months mentioning how we haven’t been to Disney World in “forever” which is the equivalent of three years. Every time she said this I mentioned that if she remembered going a few years ago that it clearly hasn’t been that long. But apparently I am highly susceptible to brainwashing because about two months ago I started feeling like we hadn’t been to Disney World in forever. I always knew I would make a great cult member. So I booked a trip for her birthday which just happened to fall on a Monday after a long weekend for parent-teacher conferences. It was like the universe was screaming at us to take this vacation, so we did.

We were getting ready to head out and people kept asking if I was worried about flying. I wasn’t worried. Not even a little. I am one of those people that doesn’t really worry about much. My husband on the other hand worries about everything, so between the two of us, we have a pretty healthy outlook, but it only works when we are thinking in sync. I also carry buckets of hand sanitizer and sprays when I travel. I may not worry, but I am disgusted by other people’s bodily fluids, skin and breath. I was trying to get my hands on a hazmat suit to wear on the plane. Not to protect me from germs, just because I thought it would be hilarious to board a plane dressed like an extra in Contagion. My husband had been texting me photos of the lunatics in China walking around with plastic bags over their heads or helmets made out of water bottles. I’m sure these are the same geniuses who don’t wash their hands before leaving the bathroom, and every one of them would be seated around us on a plane. I didn’t see any bubble helmets but I did see quite a few paper masks. One of those masks would have been helpful during the flight when the couple in front of us sat down. I’m fairly certain the man rolled around in dog shit before boarding and the woman had tried to set herself on fire. It’s bad enough when you have to spend several hours in a giant metal fart box hurdling through the air, but when your fellow passengers are not vacationers, but residents of the land of meth and hennessey returning to their swampland, it’s especially ripe.

We planned this trip prior to any worldwide health concerns. We are assholes, but not the kind who put other people in danger. Social distancing is actually something I can excel at. I don’t particularly like people, and I certainly don’t like having to spend too much time with others, so I have been social distancing for most of my life already. Unfortunately this is not something that can be accomplished in a theme park. The night we arrived was the night they made the announcement that the parks would be closing in three days. Since the point of no return was miles behind us, we pushed forward. We loaded up on hand sanitizer and sunscreen and headed to the parks for the three days they remained open. Not so surprisingly, the parks were still packed with overweight sweaty dads licking their fingers after consuming a half dozen churros and tiny booger machines wiping their filthy hands on every surface possible. The only difference was the moms occasionally squirted a dollop of cleaning product into everyone’s hands after screaming “stop touching things!” The whole place smelled of alcohol by the second day, which was nothing new for Epcot.

My daughter’s birthday was the day after they closed the parks. We had purchased after-hours park tickets and had reservations for the restaurant that you have to sell a kidney to get into, so needless to say, she was a little bummed out. Luckily I was able to move up our dinner reservation and my little princess was satisfied with being able to celebrate her birthday for several days instead of just one. We also realized after almost murdering each other after the first ten hours of stampeding from one ride to the next, that we would never have survived a late night together. It was probably for the best that our time at the parks was cut short by a day. We even made it over to the shopping district and to the pool, which never would have happened under normal circumstances. I even discovered a massage chair in the arcade that simultaneously squeezed your calves and skull in a death grip while punching you in the butthole. I’m not sure who designed this chair, but it may be the same guy who came up with waterboarding for the military. And I actually paid money to sit in this chair and then convinced my husband to do it as well. Apparently he could be a cult member too.

Shockingly, there were quite a few parents who either had no idea that we were at the beginning of a pandemic, or just didn’t care. I watched as children of all ages rubbed their hands all over every surface within a ten foot radius. They touched literally everything they could get their grubby little paws on while their parents stared at their phones. These parents obviously were not checking out CNN or they may have told their kids to keep their mitts to themselves. My husband watched one child pick his nose and eat it for a solid half hour. His mother was either immune to this behavior or just happy she didn’t have to worry about his lunch because she seemed not to notice that this kid was two knuckles deep trying to scratch his brain with his tiny fingernails that had just been submerged in a buckets of the seven dwarves fake plastic jewels. On the second day I offered my daughter $10 for every hour she managed to not touch anything. I explained that she could earn a cool $120 over the course of the day simply by keeping her hands germ free. She made $10 the entire day. She lasted the first hour and then never made it past 15 minutes after that. I must have poured two gallons of candy scented sanitizer on her hands that day.

By the time we checked out of our hotel and got ourselves to the airport they had announced that pretty much everything was closing down. All of the filthy little monsters licking their hands and then swinging on the railings were following their unaware parents to the beach. We watched the footage of swarms of bikini clad idiots storming the shores mistaking the word “pandemic” for “epic party”. All I could think is at least we are thinning the herd. If we had stayed any longer, we may have had to take out a loan to cover the tips I was handing out. I was throwing money around like a rapper in a strip club, knowing most of the workers were going to be sent home shortly. I was anxious to get home by this point as I knew we would need to quarantine ourselves for at least two weeks after having been exposed to so many people.

Once we got on the plane we were subjected to instructions on how to properly cough into our elbows and how to wash our hands in the bathroom. I was shocked that anyone would actually use the airplane bathroom, considering I will hold it for hours in normal circumstances before stepping foot in that petri dish. I guess I should have been more shocked that adults needed instructions on how to avoid spreading germs. The woman seated behind me proceeded to sneeze on the back of my seat for the next two hours and lean her head against the little airplane window. I don’t know if I have ever been so happy to get off a plane. Our vacations are always an adventure, but being home has never felt so good. Bring on the social distancing, it’s not often I actually get to show off my skills, and I could win a gold medal in this competition.

*I wrote this while trying not to kill my family and listening to X-Ray Spex!

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Consequences

Family vacations are always a mix of pure joy and total exhaustion. Children don’t acclimate to new settings as quickly as adults so their reactions to pretty much everything are usually a little over the top. They are like little ping pong balls bouncing back and forth between bliss and terror. My mini-me is usually on the verge of wetting her pants with excitement or trying to find a safe place because the sky is falling. Also, once she is excited, there is very little slowing her down. She is like a tiny energizer bunny. Unfortunately, her recovery time from a walk into terror town is of similar length.

We took a trip down to Florida last month to test out the latest Harry Potter ride at Universal. This was not exactly the trip we were planning to take at the end of June, or really at all, but it happened. We had gone to Universal during Easter break and somehow when I planned the trip back in March, I bought two sets of tickets to the theme parks. This sounds ridiculous unless you know me. I buy duplicates of things all the time. In fact, I realized on this trip that I had packed a pair of shorts with a tag still on them that I had worn several times since May. I had not actually been wearing the pair with the tag on them, I had been sporting this pair’s doppelganger for a month prior to buying the shorts I took on vacation. I usually pretend that I intentionally bought duplicates because of my undying affection for whatever the item is, but this tactic was not a good one in the case of the duplicate tickets. I had to fess up that I accidentally bought two sets of tickets whilst confused about how many days and how many parks we planned on visiting. Needless to say, my husband was not thrilled about this trip but mini-me was over the moon, especially since a new ride had opened just two weeks before our arrival.

During our flight down to Orlando, my daughter talked of nothing other than the timing of our riding the new ride, where she most wanted to sit and how many times we should fly through the air strapped onto a metal track during our stay. She vacillated between titillation and crippling fear for the three hour trek. She loves all things Harry Potter but is nervous about roller coasters, so there was much ambivalence. She had watched several YouTube videos of the ride which were apparently replaying on the screen in her brain repeatedly.

Once we arrived, we could hardly hold her back while we checked into the hotel and grabbed lunch. As we headed toward the park (by foot since it was faster than the water taxi), she skipped ahead of us calling back for us to hurry up. When I finally barked at her to slow down and settle down she turned to me and said very earnestly “I know, having kids is hard. Maybe you two shouldn’t have gotten married.” Just like that – mom, these are the consequence of your actions, live with them. She stroked my arm while saying this, the same way I have touched her while doling out a punishment for the last several years. I couldn’t help but laugh. Proud of herself, she skipped off ahead of us again.

My husband and I spent the rest of the vacation blaming every minor disappointment on our marriage. Everything from long lines to the rain that arrived halfway through our third day was the result of our nuptials. Apparently the butterfly effect of all things can be traced back to our wedding fifteen years ago, even the decision for overweight women to wear short shorts. Who knew?! Luckily, the same rules applied to all things that went right. Riding the front car of the new roller coaster wasn’t luck, it was the direct result of my saying “I do” in 2004. If not for our marriage, the ride probably wouldn’t even exist. If nothing else, the recurring joke saved us our sanity while fighting crowds in the sweltering heat.

By the final night of our trip, my family was literally falling asleep at dinner. The fact that the seating at the restaurant was groups of couches did not help. We fought the sleepiness long enough to inhale some sushi before collapsing into our beds. My child’s sudden narcolepsy was of course blamed on her parents’ marriage. I had to point out that this was probably the most accurate assessment of the entire trip. This crew really does wear me out!

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In the Thick of It

A friend of mine recently told a story about being the only mom participating in an activity while other moms sat back watching. She was on vacation, in the ocean taking a surf lesson with her husband and kids. Other moms sat on the beach taking photos and watching while their families had an adventure. The women  documented the event as their families experienced it.

Her daughter noticed the anomaly and pointed it out. The tween asked why her mom was not doing what the other moms were doing (or not doing). In this story, the mom explained that she was in the water because she had recently gotten into better shape and was finally comfortable in the wet suit, whereas six months prior she would have probably made an excuse to sit on the beach instead of getting in the water. She shared with her daughter that she was happy to be in a mindset where she would rather be participating in the adventure.

I wondered how many other moms were sitting on the sidelines for the same reason and how many were watching from a distance simply because “that’s what the moms do.” Most of my adventures as a kid were led by my dad. Sometimes my mom participated, and sometimes not. Her participation seemed to depend on the level of danger involved. I think she shied away from some of our adventures after she mistakenly engaged the clutch instead of the brake on my dad’s motorcycle and almost ran me over. For the short period of time I played sports as a child, the dads coached and the moms watched. It seemed like anything physical was a “dad” activity and mom was left with arts and crafts or trips to the mall.

I have never been one to follow the crowd. I don’t sit on the sidelines and watch because “that’s what the moms do” and I have never bought the idea that different activities are better suited for boys than girls. I grew up on a motorcycle and skateboard. I am the mom who doesn’t mind getting dirty and certainly doesn’t mind making an ass out of herself. If it’s fun, I will do it. I am often a mom among dads and that’s just fine. There should be more of us if you ask me.

This story was on my mind when my family headed off to Florida for vacation a few weeks ago. Lo and behold, I saw moms all over the theme parks sitting and watching as their families rode the rides. It was most noticeable at the water park. Maybe the moms didn’t want to get their hair wet, or maybe they were uncomfortable climbing up the stairs in their bathing suits. Maybe they just wanted to relax and get a tan. I have no idea why these moms were watching instead of participating. All I know is I am not one of those moms.

We spent less than a week in Florida and I felt like I needed a vacation to recover when we got home. We were busy while we were there and I was often the one running up first to the rides. I have a handful of photos from vacation, but not nearly as many as I would like. But I will trade the documents of the memories for experiencing the memories any day!

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