Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Parade of Lights

...Or How We Spent The Evening Visiting The Seventh Ring of Hell.

Every year I have looked forward to the Parade of Lights...I'm actually a huge fan of parades, I love the sounds, the floats...everything, this year was no exception. We started to get ready for the parade a couple of days before. We made sure we had camp chairs for everyone, the blankets were cleaned, that everyone had a warm coat etc. The first couple of times we went to the parade of lights the temperatures were FREEZING, and we always forget something (Olivia's coat one year!) so we like to be over prepared. Last year we went late and were unable to see the parade due to the large crowds. This year we were determined to do it right. It was a beautiful night for the parade, the temperature was downright balmy for a December evening in Colorado. We started off really well, we found parking rather quickly, we had remembered the change to pay for parking and nearly everyone had their coats. (I forgot mine at home, but all the kids had theirs!). We walked the couple of blocks to the parade and had no issues. The kids did a good job of holding hands and they listened as well!

Once we were on the parade route things started to deteriorate a bit. In years past we had sat at an intersection, but found it wasn't a good spot. The balloons always have to duck under the lights so you never get to see the balloon fully upright and turning around until it is further down the street. The middle of the block is a much better vantage point. Unfortunately the only spot that seemed to be left was behind a parking meter next to a light post. (Can you say 'obstructed view'?) I was afraid that if we tried to walk further we would end up with even worse seating, so we stayed there. (The nice thing was that we were just down from the May D&F clock tower and it always looks nice for the holiday season. )
We unpacked our chairs, sat down and started to people watch. At first the kids were doing well... then boredom set in, along with that came the whining. "I'm hungry", "I'm thirsty", I want some valium"... oh wait that last one was me. To pass the time we usually buy some hot chocolate. Chris, being eager not to be left alone with the children, volunteered to find a hot chocolate stand. He found one rather quickly down the street and came back so Taylor and Olivia could help him. The babies were very upset about being left behind, but there was no way Chris could take all 4 through that crowd without losing at least one...probably two.

The crowd around us was getting bigger. More and more people were standing behind us trying to get a good vantage point. Across the street the crowd was so thick people couldn't get through to find standing room. Before I knew it, the girls and Chris were back loaded down with hot chocolate. Someone handed me mine and someone handed Dee Dee her hot chocolate. She immediately dropped it next to some kids...making the sidewalk uninhabitable for the people who were sitting there. CRAP. I apologized, Dee Dee apologized, the kids who could no longer sit down were less than thrilled. Ah well, thats part of going to the parade...right? I was still waiting for the valium... or at least hoping for some rum in my hot chocolate... there was none.

Dee Dee drank the rest of her hot chocolate for a while and then started complaining about having to go to the bathroom. The parade hadn't started, but it was about to round the corner... I could hear the band coming. I explained to her that she has on a pull up and it would be OK if she used it. She started to cry. CRAP CRAP! The parade started to spill down the street, (surely she will forget that she wants to see the inside of a porta-john and just enjoy the parade.) she started to cry harder.

Lucas heard there might be a trip to the bathroom in the works. He started to cry about needing to pee as well. Now, this is the kid that can make it through the day without peeing his pants but rarely does. I KNOW he has no issues with going in the pull-up. Dee Dee on the other hand always uses the potty and has a better precedence for needing to use an actual bathroom. I decided to just stay put, after all there wasn't any way to cross the street with the parade barreling down the street. The parade isn't that long anyway...everone could just wait to use the potty. The kids began to calm a bit, Dee Dee even started to nod her head along with the music.

Then, the parade stoped...there were still more floats scheduled according to the handy dandy program we had received, but minutes passed and the parade didn't appear.

Dee Dee took this as a sign that she should start howling about needing to pee in the potty, Lucas saw that this was working for her, and joined in on the howling. Chris and I conferred, and I'm about to just take the babies and go use the porta-potty since the parade is MIA. Olivia then started wiggling around and talking about how she needed to use the potty. CRAP CRAP CRAP!
I assessed the situation. Dee Dee and Lucas have pull ups on, they had peed before we left the house, I wondered how bad they really needed the potty...I suspected they were looking for an adventure. Olivia often exaggerates how bad she needs to go pee (she's walked in a bathroom and washed her hands after claiming she was about to burst.) I decided that she was looking for an adventure as well. Dee Dee started to howl again, Olivia was grunting and the boy has started to weep silently, Taylor was looking hopeful. OK, the porta-john was down the street across from us and in front of it is a bunch of parade spectators who were standing shoulder to shoulder. So, I knew if I said, let's go, I would have ended up with all 4 kids, trying to get across the street, through the crowd to the porta-john only to have half (if not all) refuse to go in because of the smell. Or if one or 2 decided to go in, I would then have to watch the other 2 diligently to keep them from disappearing in the crowd. Plus, would I wait outside with the remaining kids, go in one porta-potty with the babies, and tell the girls to stay in the other one until they hear my voice? I couldn't have the babies go in one by themselves...more likely than not they would fall into the hole! These scenerios swirled through my head and then I thought...the parade would start again leaving me stranded with 4 kids who would have no vantage point to see the parade, next to some smelly toilets. Meanwhile Chris would be left by himself to glean some joy from life... perish the thought!)

Being a caring and loving mother, I snapped, "Olivia, you only want to go because there's a shot of getting away for a bit, Dee Dee and Lucas... just go in your diapers!" I could then feel the judgmental stare of the 50 people behind us on the back of my neck. I ignored them and my whiny kids and asked a passing parade staffer where the hell the parade was. He told me that a float has broken down and that the parade should be rounding the corner in a little bit. (great... you'd think they'd be tossing Valium to those of us who were waiting.)

Some of the joy had been sucked out of the parade. I wanted to go home, the babies wanted to go home, Chris still felt a little optimistic, Olivia wanted to use the bathroom and Taylor adamantly wanted to stay. I was watched the people wandering up and down the street. I don't have any idea where they came from, just families looking for a vantage point. Half the time there wasn't even room to get off the street the people were so thick on the curb, so the people just kept wandering. I considered the logistics of leaving. We had our camp chairs (all 6 of us) and our cooler to carry the blankets and other items. The crowd around us seemed so deep that there wasn't any way to get up, pack up the chairs, grab the cooler, keep all the kids together and leave safely, or without someone shouting at us to sit down when the parade started again. I did briefly consider leaving everything there and just fleeing the parade like it was some sort of natural disaster... but that seemed a little excessive. Plus, there would have been some nut job in the crowd who would be yelling, "You forgot your stuff!!" For a longer period I considered what would happen if I just got up and ran down the street... not sure what I would have done after that... use a port a potty I guess. (Since the May D&F building was right there, the phrase, "naked in clock tower" came to mind, but it was a little too cold for that type of craziness) All the while this was going on in my head, Dee Dee was crying, Luke was whining, Olivia was jiggling in her chair and Taylor was complaining of being hungry. I was about to lose matter how cold it was. The parade finally rounded the corner.
Luckily the high school bands drowned out the chorus of complaining coming from those nearest me. The last few floats were great, and the parade was miraculously over. We started packing up, Chris ran Olivia across the street to use the porta-potty and the boy had a full on break down. He started sobbing... I asked him what was wrong and he said he didn't want to wear his coat... its not that cold, OK no coat. He started sobbing more, he wanted to wear his coat because he was cold! Chris was finally back and we finished packing up the chairs and everything else. Dee Dee was no longer crying about having to pee, Taylor had stopped complaining of being hungry, Olivia had gone pee, Lucas was still sobbing. I grabbed his hand, Dee Dee's hand and we all walked to the car while I tried to remember why I used to like parades. Once in the car everyone was much happier and calmer. Which lead me to think maybe we should stay home more often and never ever go to another parade.

But, I DO wonder what kind of floats they'll have next year... maybe if we sit closer to the porta-potties, and bring lots of salty snacks....

1 comment:

Lweeks said...

Holy Cow! You are a glutton for punishment aren't you? Loved the post - you're a really good writer.