It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
At some point last week, the words “Why don’t you each invite a friend to sleep over?” slipped from my mouth. I have been especially conscientious of being a present parent lately, and though I meant to give my children a fun-filled Friday evening, as the words escaped, I wished I could take them back.
I’ve never allowed them to have friends sleep over on the same night. And definitely not as a solo parent.
But the looks on their faces of excitement, nay, disbelief, immediately told me there was no going back. So I was going to tread on unknown territory.
Just me versus four school-aged children for eighteen-odd hours.
I planned the evening with the tactical skills of Seal Team Six. I’d swipe them from school, feed them a sugar-free, low-carb snack, then wisk them away to unknown destinations and wear their asses out until they didn’t know their names.
And then I made a grave mistake. I asked Dude and AG for their input. And nearly simultaneously they said “Chuck E. Cheese.”
My only hope was that I could divert their attention and bring them someplace that would at least keep us away from the crazy rat for as long as possible. And, long shot of all long shots, satisfy them enough that we wouldn’t have to trek to, what’s that place where they keep the airport, Kenner???
So after a somewhat decent afterschool snack at home, I threw all four of them in the car and headed to the undisclosed destination. When Jack realized we weren’t headed to CEC immediately, he asked where we were going. I gave some vague reply, to which he responded in his best Louis Armstrong, sing-songy voice “No-body knows…”
The kid is funny.
We arrived at the scene- Where Y’art? at the New Orleans Museum of Art. I was very worried that it would be terribly crowded and parking would be a problem. Turns out, no one in town must know what a gem this is, because we parked nearly in front of the museum and arrived to no line at the desk. And, to my pleasant surprise, no admission charge either. The regular admission of $10 per adult and $6 per child is waived for NOMA members. Sweet!
We walked in, and I as I grabbed a glass of wine from the bar in the main hall, the kids listened and watched, mouths open, Amanda Walker, a fabulous pianist and singer. We headed over to the free kids’ activity, a multimedia stenciled piece, that kept them happy for thirty minutes. We left NOMA without really seeing any of the exhibits because I wanted to check out the Besthoff Scultpture Garden and the Newman dance group.
So… my kids love the sculpture garden. It’s seriously a hidden treasure of New Orleans. I knew they would enjoy a visit.
I was not, however, so confident in their interest in modern dance.
We found the group, traveling amongst the pieces, and watched. All five of us. There was a healthy dose of “modern” in their dance. When the piece ended, I held my breath. Would there be giggling? Pointing?
Neither. Just one little head that looked back at me and asked “Can we follow them and keep watching?” To which the other three little heads nodded.
So we went. And watched the remaining performances. It was a lovely spring evening.
And the kiddos were perfect.
Until they remembered Chuck E. Cheese.
So true to my word, we headed west and entered Hades. I’m sorry, did that slip out?
Any of you who really know me, know I’m honestly up for any adventure, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never stride into CEC on a Friday night again. Ever.
The pizza was pretty awful. I spent WAY too much on all-you-can-eat-salad for each of us, because, can you really deny a child salad?? And within fifteen minutes, Dude’s friend had his tokens stolen.
Good thing I schooled the crowd in carnival basketball and got a shit-ton of tickets. (The current high score at the Veterans CEC is 71. And it’s mine. Swear. It’s my secret talent.)
And, to the Greater NO Metro population, when you’re in what is generally considered a family restaurant, would you kindly cover your ass-crack and not yell at your toddlers with such colorful language that my eight-year old asks me to interpret?
As a parent, and I feel like I speak to all of you, since why on earth would you be reading this shady blog if you didn’t have kids?… I couldn’t have been prouder of all four kids when they redeemed their tickets for crappy prizes. They were all about “Yes, ma’am,” “please, if you don’t mind,” and “thank you so much.” The sweet seventeen year-old managing the prize counter (I would rather collect trash in August than take that job) was dumbfounded.
So we collected our bookmarks, pencil toppers, and erasers, and got the hell out. I’m pretty sure our guest B has PTSD. The kids were exhausted and barely made it through showers and dental hygiene before they passed out.
Exactly as planned.
I have to say, to all the bajillions of readers out there, that our guests, J & B, were perfectly delightful and well-mannered. They are welcome anytime.