The $400 Health Club

There are things that I love about the holidays; the cool weather, the food, the jolly mood everyone is in, and then there are things that I really don’t like; sweating over what to get the nine (yes, nine) people/couples in my life (not including the Secret Santa gift and the sibling gift on my wife’s side). With kids now, there are even more things to love and/or hate about the holidays.

For instance, our kids’ daycare is closed for all major holidays. In the case of Thanksgiving, they were closed understandably on Thursday and Friday, but of course we still have to pay for a full week. Regardless, this means that instead of the kids playing for nine hours with their friends at daycare, they are either strapped in a car on a long trip or stuck in a boring house with people they don’t know and only a handful of toys carefully selected for both portability and creativity, and unable to generally get out and burn off all that energy that keeps them the sane lovable children we all hope they are come the weekend.

As my friend pointed out over at Pantsfreesia, by Sunday afternoon I’ve got that twitchy eye thing going and if the weather is nice, my wife is urging me to get out-of-doors and go do something that doesn’t involve kids. So, long holiday weekends, such as what we just had for Thanksgiving, are especially trying for me even though I love my children with all my heart.

I love em; I just don’t wanna play with them for 96 hours. And it’s not just the playing either. When my oldest son doesn’t go to daycare and burn off steam, he’s a different person. He talks back, he whines over piddly stuff and he just generally isn’t as well behaved as he is when he gets tons of exercise. And for whatever reason, riding bicycles and hitting the ball are poor substitutes for chasing each other around the playground pretending you’re Spider Man trying to knock down the Red Power Ranger. I know this because I played it for ten minutes and I was done, both because it’s physically demanding, and because it’s a tad humiliating for people to see you imitating a three year old making noises that you haven’t made since you were, well, three years old.

And no, I never bought into that whole, “Dance as if no one were watching” idea. I mean, someone is always watching and even if they’re your parents, in the back of their head, behind the part of their brain that’s saying, “What a good father,” they are also thinking, “My goodness he looks like a total goober.”

Welcome to parenting.

Beach Trip Deja vu

So my son and I are here on the outskirts of the country’s most popular destination spot—Pigeon Forge, TN. The house is a huge, three-level affair perched precariously (I’m seriously here) on the side of a mountain. The grade is so steep in fact, that halfway below the bottom floor of each house, and the ground, which falls off dramatically, is a catwalk for maintenance people to use to get to the electrical closet located in what might generously be called a basement.

At any rate, the original plan was for my family to spend the night at my mom’s house a mere 20 miles away, but since it’s only my oldest son and I, my mom made such a fuss about our staying for the night that we did. However, this meant that we got last dibs on sleeping arrangements. In this case, last dibs included the top floor, loft area consisting of two twin beds in a “we’ve been married for 15 years and no longer want to be sleeping in the same room” kind of set up. Also sharing this loft is my aunt, and my niece, and then over a half wall is a bedroom where my cousin and her husband are sleeping. So basically, there are six of us sleeping in a loft together.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that the house is made of all wood. I mean, there isn’t a stick of sheetrock anywhere. The walls are wood, the floor is wood and the ceilings are wood. What this amounts to is one giant cavernous noise funnel up to the top floor where we are all sleeping. Last night, when one of us turned over in our noisy bed, the rest of us heard it and were similarly disturbed.

Tonight, despite any arguments to the contrary, my son and I are making the twisty, turny trip over the mountain to my mom’s house where I will sleep in a queen bed, as will my son. We will walk around the house in near-nudity since we won’t have to worry about offending aunts and/or cousins, and we will not worry about snoring or tooting in our sleep, lest we offend those who might be offended.

And then tomorrow morning, we may or may not come back—perhaps opting to rather say goodbye via telephone and loiter around Townsend, TN checking out the Apple Barn and the little train museum. And then, hopefully having worn out my son, I’ll strap him in the car and we’ll hit the road on the way home.

Or, I might freeze my butt off in Gatlinburg tonight looking at the lights cuz I was too stupid to bring a coat. We’ll see.