7 Lessons I Learned Over Memorial Weekend

1. Four adults and five children in one hotel room is not as much fun as one might think.
I know, I know. Four adults and five children (ages 10, 6, 5, 3, and 2) in one hotel room—sounds like an instant party right? Well, surprising as it may be, it’s not quite that much fun. ALMOST, but not quite. Yes, my sister and I (in a weak moment–or maybe when we were both stinkin’ drunk) decided it would be “fun” (translation: “cheap”) to share a hotel room in Kansas City, where we would be attending our cousin’s wedding. You may be asking yourself, “Is that legal?” The answer is no, probably not. I’m fairly certain we violated some sort of fire code and maybe even a city ordinance or two.

We started second-guessing our “grand idea” after we checked in to the hotel and proceeded to carry in all of our luggage. We found ourselves avoiding eye contact with other guests as we slunk along, herding five wild children into the room, schlepping our 5 suitcases, 5 sleeping bags, 4 pillows, 3 toiletry bags, 1 bag of “kid snacks,” 1 briefcase, 1 flower girl dress, and 1 tuxedo. I’m pretty sure we looked like some sort of circus family.

I think it was about 10:00 that night that all four adults came to a silent agreement: Never again. Getting 5 children, all of whom are practically laying on top of one another on the floor, to all succumb to sleep is a little like trying to get 5 monkeys to all hum Vivaldi while standing on their heads and smoking pipes. We tried to be patient. I mean, come on, how fun is it to a 2, 3, 5, or 6-year-old (the 10-year-old wasn’t quite as amused) to get to sleep 3 inches from one another on the floor of a hotel room? But the patience quickly ran dry as the giggles, snorts, and choruses of “Hellooo!!!” (which is EXTREMELY funny to a 2- or 3-year old) failed to diminish after repeated gentle reminders and minor threats. The mommy gloves then came off as my sister and I competed for the coveted title of Mommy Dearest. “What did I say? NO TALKING! If I see that mouth move one more time, I will take you in that bathroom and spank you! Did you hear me?!” Needless to say, just as we thought we could take no more and might actually have to make good on our threats, we heard it: the sound of silence. Miracles never cease to happen.

2. You can’t always trust a GPS receiver, especially if it’s named Richard.
My sister rode with me to KC, and she brought along her trusty portable GPS, which happens to be named “Richard.” Not being worthy enough to own one of these techy gadgets myself, I didn’t know that they actually have names. Anyway, after my sister spent the first 40 minutes of the trip plugging our destinations into Richard, only to have him instruct us to “Take the next right!” into a cornfield or “Turn left now!” into oncoming traffic, we aptly unplugged him and nicknamed him “Dick.”

3. Drifting into another lane and causing a horrible accident = BAD.
Really?! I did not know this, Mr. Sheriff! Thank you for clearing that up for me. You see, I thought it would actually be GOOD to cause a horrible accident. But now that you informed me that it is BAD, I guess I’ll rethink my weekend plans.

Yes, you guessed it. I got pulled over on the way to Kansas City. I THOUGHT it was for speeding, although I was only going about 5 miles over the limit. Oh, how wrong I was…

The fun began when, instead of rolling down my window, I had to open my door in order to speak to the cop. Mr. Officer, or as I like to refer to him, Rosco P. Coltrane, stood back, hand on gun, as I carefully opened the door and yelled, “My window doesn’t roll down!” (My window has not rolled down for about 2 years now, but I’m too cheap to get it fixed!) Oh, so cautiously, Rosco crept up to me, finally poking his head inside the minivan and asking, “Is everything all right in here?” The 10-year-old and 3-year-old were silent. The 5-year-old started to cry. “Yes,” I answered. “An undercover cop called you in. He’s been following you and said you were all over the road, drifting into the other lanes and driving erratically.”

What?!? This caught me a BIT off guard. “Uh, okay,” I said. “I didn’t realize I was driving like that.” I turned back to look at the officer and we nearly bumped noses. He had stuck his head further into the van and was now staring into my eyes. Was he mesmerized by my beauty? Good guess, but no. The realization hit me like a ton of wine coolers: HE THINKS I’M DRUNK!!!

You got it, Rosco! If my van doesn’t look like a “party van,” I don’t know what does! Let’s see…maybe it’s the kids in carseats in the back…or maybe the smashed Teddy Grahams all over the floor of the van…or my pregnant sister sitting on the passenger side…or it could be “A Wrinkle in Time” playing in the DVD player…That’s right, we are CRAAAZZZYYYYY!

Long story short, Rosco gave me a warning for “improper use of lanes.” I honestly think his “undercover officer” was the one who was, in fact, drunk because I hadn’t been driving “erratically,” but I didn’t want to argue with my officer friend because he acted a LITTLE too eager to use that gun. I don’t believe he ever took his hand off it. But I guess I don’t blame him. We WERE pretty menacing… Before he let me go, though, he gave me these pearls of wisdom that I shall never forget: “Remember, drifting into other lanes can cause a horrible accident, and you wouldn’t want to cause a horrible accident.” I wouldn’t? Oh, I’m glad you told me. I really thought it might be kind of fun. I’m so glad you cleared that up for me.

4. I do not have a “happy place.”
I realized this as we were driving country roads trying to find the home where the rehearsal supper was being held. After 15 minutes of a 3-year-old and 5-year-old screaming and telling jokes, to which the punchline of all of them was “Because I pooped!”, all while I was trying to listen to “Richard” give me directions, I looked over at my sister, who sat with a faraway look in her eyes and small, content smile on her lips. “Why aren’t you screaming back at the kids like I am?” I asked. “I’m in my happy place,” she said, matter-of-factly. “Happy place?! Happy place?! How come you get a happy place? Why don’t I have a happy place?!” I asked desperately. But she was already lost in pina coladas and Matt Damon. Damn. I gotta get me a happy place.

5. As a rule, one of my children must get sick at each wedding we attend.
Yes, you guessed it, we couldn’t go the weekend without someone getting sick. This time it was #2 who continued the streak of “the wedding bug.” Although he spent hours laying down in the van while Husband (“Daddy” to him) sat with him, patiently working calculus problems (He’s a party animal too.), he kindly waited to vomit until we got him. What a good boy.

6. 85-year-olds have no right to expect to actually SIT DOWN to eat their food.
Okay, seriously, what is wrong with people? At the wedding reception, there were not enough seats for everyone, and I mean not NEARLY enough seats for everyone. Nor did they have a reserved place for family to sit. So my 85-year-old grandma who had just played this monster of an organ for an hour and a half carried a plate of food with frail, shaking hands and asked someone, “May I sit here?” Now, don’t you think that if you saw this poor woman, never mind that she’s the GRANDMA OF THE GROOM, precariously holding a plate of food and looking like she could faint from exhaustion at any moment, you would say, “Please, take the seat!” or even “This seat’s taken, but you can have my seat!” Ah, but no. My grandma was told “The seat’s taken,” as the person held on to the chair as if for dear life, eyeing my grandma like she was some sort of interloper. All I can say is, “CLASS. Some people really have CLASS.” Finally, my mom and dad found a seat for my grandma at the “kid table,” as she ate among the crayons, bubbles, and farm animal hand puppets. If you can believe it, one woman had the audacity to come to the table, glare at my grandma for having the nerve to take a “kids’ seat” and snatch up the party favors before my grandma could round them all up and take them home. Grandma is such a bully.

7. Our house is lame.
I learned this when my 3-year-old started crying on the way home. “I don’t want to go home!!!” Then he proceeded to say, “Let’s think about who I can have a sleepover with.” The winners? Grandma and Papa. Nothing says Happy Memorial Day like a 3-year-old sitting beside you as you pull into the cemetery to decorate graves, asking “So, where are the dead people?”

Here’s hoping your Memorial Weekend was just as relaxing as mine!


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