I am sure that when I look back upon today, I will only remember that we went, and were successful, and had fun. "That was a great day"... and it was. But right now, I'm going to tell the whole story.
I wanted to take the kids to see A Christmas Carol live. We watch the George C. Scott version and the Muppet version every year, so they are well acquainted with the tale, but I felt they would benefit from seeing it done live, and by a very reputable company. WB decided he is Caroled out, so I took them alone. I also brought along my other 2 kids-- their mom had worked last night and was going to sleep all day anyway, but really, I took them because that's just what we do. I like packing up all my kids into the van and heading off on an adventure. But I digress; this is about a trip to the Big City to see a Show! They spent the night last night so we were ready to hit the road early, even as the predicted snow started to fly. The roads weren't that bad-- the snow was coming down for real around Gray, but I've driven in much, much worse. We got into town about 40 minutes early, to find that my normal parking lot was closed. Hmmm.... so I drove around the block and found onstreet parking. Sweet! When we got into the lobby, there was no one there. I mean NO ONE. The box office was closed, and no one was anywhere to be seen. After I called the box office (from 10 feet away-- one of my favorite tricks) and didn't hear our show listed, I finally stumbled upon someone who informed me I was at the wrong venue-- our show was about 5 blocks away... but she didn't give great directions, and I really didn't know where we were going. This is where the story takes it's turn.
And so we left, quickly, as we only had about 15 minutes to make curtain. I drove off to where I thought the theater was, but didn't see it. So we went around the block... to encounter one way streets. After a long drive through the Old Port, I got back to a known landmark. The one time I needed WB to be at home on the couch with the laptop open, he was working on getting the 4-wheeler ready to plow the snow. Luckily Mike was available. He googled me directions, got me a phone number, and talked me around the block again. I ended up passing the theater 3 times, but finally saw it. Another quick turnaround, into the parking garage, and we got there about 10 minutes into the show. The 4 kids sat in late seating on the left side of the house, while I was taken to the right side because there weren't enough seats for us together. After a few heated words with the stage manager ("One of them could have come with you.." "I know, but they're in, seated, quiet, and fine. Just take me to the other side.") At intermission, we found our correct seats. All was right in the world.
I have to say, through all of this, the kids were amazing. Now, they've been with me enough-- and with me as the sole adult enough-- to know how stressed I was, and how one little thing would cause me to break. So they walked quickly, sat quietly, and helped by not saying anything. There was only one big sigh as I explained how, on the third trip by, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever find it. One quick bark from me (and I think some stares from the fellow passengers) was all that was necessary. When we were finally seated, a section apart, I heard other children talking, but not a peep from my chickens. They were happy to move, and NOT A ONE OF THEM asked for a snack at intermission. (For those of you who have not taken 8,9, 10, & 11 year olds to a noontime event, that's a super big deal!) Yes, Santa, they all earned Good Kid points today.
After the show we got some lunch and did a bit of shopping (getting lost, again, finding my way from the theater to the mall). Now I spent most of my childhood about 30 miles south of this city, and had a passing familiarity when I was in high school... twenty years ago. It took about 10 years of living up here to change my landmarks and successfully navigate the city from the north, but I don't do it often, so while I know about where I am, I don't always remember how to get from point A to B. Let's just say "I HATE the city!" was uttered more than once...
Anyhow, it really was a great day. We made it, we didn't miss much, the play was awesome, and we got some shopping done. Most importantly, we got through a rough spell together, without any of us losing it. They rallied around me as only your kids can when you're lost in the city and there's not a damn thing they can do to help. When I had calmed down enough to laugh, they laughed with me. When the show was over, they asked to fill their bellies, but didn't make demands on where. When I said it would have to be fast and cheap, they were thankful for the Happy Meals. When we shopped for WB and teacher gifts, they didn't complain. I got to walk through the city, with 4 kids in tow, and see the amazement on others faces. So yea, it was a great day. No hindsight necessary.