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Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

When I was a kid, my dad would frequently tell me that I was "cruisin' for a bruisin'" when I would misbehave.  He mostly said this playfully (as far as I can remember, anyway), but I got it - knock it off, or else!  It wasn't until recently, when I heard myself say to Jack, "Dude, you are cruisin' for a bruisin'!" that I realized my dad was basically threatening to beat me if I didn't start behaving (and for the record, I can only remember being spanked one time and I pretended it was much worse than it really was).

But this statement has been in my head lately.

And the reason?

We just went on a cruise.  That my dad paid for.  And "beating" is exactly how I would explain it.  So, the childhood threats kinda came true.

Oh, it had its good parts, for sure!  We spent time with family, frolicked on a Mexican beach, and ate all the food we wanted, whenever we wanted.  But it got off to a rough start.  And there were many bumps along the way (and I'm not talking about the ocean swell).

This story needs to be told. And, it's going to be long. it goes.

Every so often, my awesome dad and his wife coordinate (read: plan and pay for) an awesome family vacation.  Five and a half years ago, it was an 8-day Mexican cruise.  It included eleven "adults" (this term might be a stretch for some of us at that time) and three kids.  Since most of us did not have children at the time, the entire week pretty much looked like this, all the time:

So basically, as you can see from this picture of a picture in my scrapbook (that I used to have time for), we pretty much partied the entire week and were THOSE annoying people holding up the photo lines at night so we could take cheesy pictures in front of cheesier backdrops while the photographer rolled his eyes inwardly and pretended like he thought we were funny as everyone in line sighed impatiently.
This trip looked a little more like this:

Basically, Jack was screaming bloody murder (and had been for about fifteen minutes at this point, NONSTOP), Claire was enthralled by the giant boat backdrop and could not be convinced, even for a second, to look away, I am laughing because WHAT THE HECK ELSE AM I GOING TO DO AT THIS POINT, and Charles looks a little crazy.
Let me back up a few days.

It's Tuesday morning.  I wake up sick.  Not just kind of sick, but chills all over even though I have a fever, head feels like it's in a vice, can barely roll over in bed sick.  We are scheduled to fly to California on Friday, and I know that I am too sick to go anywhere and I also know that this is not a 24-hour kind of bug (I know this because my mom was sick with it for TWO WEEKS).  I am also afraid that Charles or the kids are going to get it.

Charles takes care of me and the kids.  He does this Tuesday and Wednesday, while working (luckily, he works from home).  Thursday, I am still sick and in full-on panic mode.

And now, I'll back up a few days more.

Before kids, when we had a trip coming up, we'd often be up until two in the morning doing laundry, packing, straightening my hair, etc. - and then, somehow, we'd roll out of bed a couple of hours later and manage to make it to the airport about an hour before our flight left, where we'd argue over whether we were going to eat Cinnabon or Auntie Anne's, and then end up eating both while flipping through a giant stack of magazines that I had bought before the trip but then added to when I saw in the airport bookstore that the new Us Weekly was out.


So, I had actually started packing on Monday - that's FIVE WHOLE DAYS before we were supposed to leave.  I had successfully packed the carry-on and the diaper bag, and there they sat - all nice and packed and zippered-up - right next to the bed I was barely able to crawl out of.  My plan had been to finish all of the packing on Tuesday, save a few key items (hair straightener and Jack's shoes) that I would tuck neatly into our packed bags Friday morning.

So, that didn't happen.  The two packed bags sat and stared at me, mocking me for my failure to pack the rest.  Because I was too damn sick to pack.  I was too sick to do laundry, too sick to even make a list for Charles to pack.  I hadn't even taken the tags off the new cruise-appropriate clothes I had just bought for Claire.

OK, now back to Thursday.  By Thursday, my suffering has lessened but I still feel like crap.  All the herbal tea and steamy showers in the world aren't helping to cut through the gunk in my head, and all the rest I can muster isn't beginning to fight off this funk.  I am operating at about 50%, maybe.  Charles calls Southwest to see if we can switch out flight to Saturday.

Of course we can!  For $1300.

So, it's off to the doctor I go.  Where they stick a pointy stick up my nose that almost makes me cry, and shove a wooden stick down my throat that does make me gag - all to tell me I don't have the flu or strep throat.

Breaking the law, breaking the law!

So, am I ok to travel, I ask?

The doctor says the timing is unfortunate, but yes, and gives me a prescription for some steroids.  Which I promptly take.  Which give me the energy to pack like a madwoman about an hour after they kick in.


Kind of.  I still feel sick.  Just sick with enough energy to pack.

Friday morning, we all load up.  Our bags are packed, we're ready to go, and we're about to be leaving on a jet plane WITH ALL FOUR OF US!  Wheee!

Only, I can tell the kids are starting to feel a little under the weather.  Jack, who is three and as a result, often whiny, is extra whiny and kind of clingy (but still excited about riding on the airplane - we have literally been talking about this trip and building it up for months).  Claire is a little sniffly.  But onward and upward, right?

So, it's off to the airport we go.  And our flights go pretty well.  Claire sleeps the first leg of the trip, Jack sleeps for the second.  Both kids wake up and scream at the top of their lungs, relentlessly, for what seems like the World's Slowest Descent as we land in San Diego - grabbing their ears the whole time.  I think to myself, "This cannot be good."

But we are in San Diego.  Home!  An hour of Friday afternoon/holiday weekend/SoCal traffic later, we've made it to our brother's house in Carlsbad.

And we kind of start to relax.  I see my BFFs (and here's where I'd love to write a long blurb about how much I cherish my friends, and how amazing it is to see them, and all that good stuff - but looks at how long this is, and we haven't even got on the damn boat yet).

We retire to the hotel early.  I am still sick, but at this point functioning like a normal adult.  The kids are getting a little more sniffly.  And Saturday, we hang out with our friends and family some more.

But Saturday afternoon, things take a turn for the worse.  I return from lunch with my friends and Charles, Jack and Claire return from playing in the water park at LegoLand.  Jack's eye is oozing (OOZING) green goop.  Like, a lot of it...maybe the size of a dime, all coming out of his eye at once.  Awesome!  And then I notice that Claire's eyes are a little crusty as well.

And the best part is that we are supposed to get on a cruise ship and go to a foreign country the NEXT DAY.

We decide to go to Urgent Care.  It's the weekend, and a holiday weekend at that, but we finally find one that's open and as soon as Jack is up from his nap, off we go (and that goes over well - telling the sick child who wakes up like a Poltergeist and even on the best of days, hates going to the doctor - that he's going to the doctor).

By this time, the kids' moods have deteriorated to Cranky Cranky.  They are both whiny, clingy...this makes me both sad (I never want them to be sick) and tired (sick kiddos are exhausting!).

At Urgent Care, it appears that we do not have the only sick kids in California.  There is a long wait.  We end up being there for three hours (HOURS!  This is basically an eternity for a kid). Both kids are diagnosed with colds and eye infections (in both eyes!), and Jack has an ear infection, too.

Late night trip to the doctor on vacation is not fun.  In case you were wondering.
Both Charles and I are kind of hoping the doctor will tell us to stay home, do not step foot on a the cruise ship, and get some rest (because this would mean we'd "have to" stay in a hotel somewhere, probably on the beach with a pool, for a few days).  But we get no such advice.

Two nurses and the doctor all tell us the same thing: They wouldn't skip the cruise if they were in our shoes.  Not for a little cold and a couple of eye infections!  Just keep the kids separated from the other kids until the antibiotics kick in and enjoy our week at sea.

Antibiotics.  Well, it's now about 10:00 PM on a Saturday night, the night before Easter.  There is one CVS nearby with a 24-hour pharmacy.  So there we go.  Along with every other sick person in southern California, and apparently THERE ARE A LOT.  Who all want medication in time for Easter.


Our night gets a little longer.

By midnight or so, everyone has had their first dose of antibiotics and we are all, finally, in bed.  From the comfort of my bed, I type out a quick email on my phone to my mom...the title of the email says it all: Vacation Hates Us.

My poor little man, in bed at last.
Now, this (finally) brings us to Easter day.  Embarkation!

In my pre-sick state, I had Easter morning all planned out.  The Easter bunny was going to find us at our hotel and hide eggs around the room and leave baskets for the kids with vacation necessities like sunscreen and snacks and maybe a ship-themed toy or two.  Then, we would head over to my brother's apartment (my sister and BFF also live in the same complex) for the big apartment-wide Easter egg hunt.  After this, we would munch on doughnuts and then as a family head to the train station in great excitement of the train ride and the week to come.

It went nothing like that.

We wake tired and crabby.  We have to pack up the suitcases, which we have been haphazardly pulling stuff from for the last two days.  We have medicine to administer and a Continental Breakfast buffet to pick at.  Even the repeated promises of a train ride (which we have been talking about for weeks, and which has created much excitement!) does not cheer Jack up, and he wants to be held All. The. Time.

Waiting for the train.
We are traveling in a large group - eleven adults (the same as last time!) and nine kids (we've been busy these past six years).  We all take the Coaster (a commuter train that runs by the beach!) down to the cruise ship terminal.

Once we get to our stop, we have a ten-minute walk ahead of us.  Meaning, I carry Claire in the Ergo and pull a suitcase.  Charles pulls the bigger suitcase, with the carry-on balanced precariously on top, and the diaper bag over his shoulder...and, more often than not, holds Jack in one arm, too. It takes us more than ten minutes to get there, but we make it.

And this is where the Meltdown of the Millenium begins.

The terminal was crowded. Super, duper crowded.  We have to wait in line to be allowed to check our luggage, then wait in line for the luggage guys to actually get to our luggage, and then wait in line to get inside the terminal...where we sit on a crowded bench with a LOT OF PEOPLE, all waiting to be admitted to the next line we need to wait in.

It looked like this:

I took this because my Dad is visible...way at the front of the room...but the guy in the hat, center of the picture, totally creeps me out.  It's like he's WATCHING ME...
As we're waiting on our bench we are trying desperately to get Jack excited.  "We're almost there!" "Just a couple more stops!"  "We're about to get on the boat!"  This poor child has waited in so many lines now I am pretty sure he doesn't believe us.  At all.

But then, the line does move.  And off we go.  And Jack goes...a little too fast.  He falls.  The floor is cement.  He scrapes his wrist a teeny, tiny bit, but that is ALL IT TAKES.  He lets loose.  He screams. Charles scoops him up, and he arches his back and throws himself back in Charles' arms.

We are *those* parents, with *that* kid.

And it doesn't stop.  He doesn't slow down, doesn't take a breath, doesn't react to the giant cruise ship we can see through the windows.  He.  Just.  Screams.

The lines continue.  It's like think, "Oh, just around this corner and we'll be on the ride!" only to find out that they've tricked you, and the line goes on.  There is another spot to stop at, another person wants to look at our passports, another crew member wants to take our picture, another old person thinks they are going to be the one to make our kid stop crying (what is the deal, people!?!?).

He doesn't stop as we walk onto the ship.  For weeks, I have been building this up, talking about how big the boat is and how fun it's going to be once we get on, and here he is - throwing the tantrum of his life, oblivious to the fact that we are even walking onto this ship.

This continues while we find our room.  It continues while we flip through the channels on the TV to find calm him down.  He's red-faced and hyperventilating, alternately sobbing and screaming.  Charles puts him down and he throws himself onto the floor, screaming at Charles to hold him.

And finally...after nearly an HOUR AND A HALF of this (and for the record, he can throw a tantrum like the best of 'em but he has never, ever carried on like this), he falls asleep.

This poor little guy.  He just did not feel well.  :(

He falls asleep about 45 minutes before the mandatory safety drill.  That is mandatory.  For everyone.  That we have to attend.  That requires this sleeping child's attendance.

Luckily (for everyone on the boat), he is *so* tired that he sleeps through most of it, his little head resting on Charles' shoulder in temporary peace as a crew member attaches a bracelet around his ankle (in case of emergency) and as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the passengers, learning where we should go in case of an emergency.

And when we get back to the room, I sneak out to the balcony and take this picture:

I am tired.  I am sick (uhhh, did you know I was sick? Ha!).  I am not having fun.  But I tell myself, in a moment of "You Make the Vacation, the Vacation Doesn't Make You!" that I am going to have fun, dammit!  And by golly, even if I don't, I'll look back on this picture in thirty years and *think* I had fun (which I have now ruined by immortalizing these memories, but that's okay!).

But some good news.  Claire actually *is* having fun!

Even sick, she was still pleasant.  Which doesn't mean she was easy.  A cruise ship stateroom is a tiny and constricting place for a curious and mobile baby to find herself.
And that, my friends, is how this cruise started.

To be continued (maybe even with some helpful tips for parents who are going to be cruising - on a ship, not for a bruising! - with babies and small kids)...

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At April 20, 2012 at 2:13 PM , Blogger Katie said...

I'm so sorry your vacation started out this way, but I couldn't help but smile and even chuckle a little. We're going to Disneyworld for Thanksgiving with our 2.5 year old and a 3.5 month old babe. Oh, and DH's parents and his sister and her family of 5. I can only imagine having a similar story to tell by the end of the year. :)

At April 20, 2012 at 9:34 PM , Blogger Carrie said...

I figure this is the stuff family memories are made of, right?? :) And now that we've been home a week it's starting to get funnier (we kept saying, "We'll laugh about this someday!") but it was hard to believe at the time.

Good luck at Disneyworld! At least (hopefully) the baby will sleep through some of it! :)

At October 15, 2012 at 11:12 AM , Blogger Julia P F said...

Damn. I might have tried to coin myself overboard.

At October 16, 2012 at 6:43 PM , Blogger Carrie said... was pretty bad.


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