I love getting away without my kids. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m fortunate enough to have grandparents who are willing and able to take them. We lived out of state for 10 years, so I value this greatly. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a parent so long, or maybe it’s just because I trust them, but when our kids are with their grandparents, I never worry about them. Jeff often has to prompt me to check in, because I always figure if there was anything I needed to know, they would call me.
And it’s not that nothing has ever gone wrong. I’ve gotten the “Nathan’s fine, mostly, but could you just verify some of the insurance info for the ER?” or “Zoe had a migraine, threw up all over the bed, said, ‘I feel better,’ rolled over and went to sleep” phone calls. I just know that after all the years of parenting us, they can handle anything that comes up.
Besides, it’s always entertaining to come home and hear all the stories of what happened while we were gone. This trip was no exception.
About a week before we were scheduled to fly out, I discovered that 1) Nathan had to see a live theater performance and complete a report about it, 2) Zoe was supposed to attend a Sounder’s Women soccer game with her team, and 3) Parker’s long-awaited boy scout camping trip was scheduled, all during the time we would be gone. This gave me immense anxiety. I would have been stressed trying to make all of that happen if I was here, but now I needed to transfer that burden to others, which, for me, is much worse.
My mother-in-law, Toni was going to be staying with the kids, and she agreed to take Parker on his camping trip. God bless her. That meant Zoe and Nathan needed to stay with my parents for 2 days. I found a team parent willing to take Zoe to the game, as long as someone could race her to the meeting spot right after school. And I talked Sydney and my mother into accompanying Nathan to the only live performance I could find playing- “FELA!”
Zoe wanted to take a camera to the game. They were going to be walking out onto the field with their sister team, the Colorado Rush. My gut told me that instead of sending her with a real camera I should buy her a disposable, but I got distracted in the pre-trip chaos. When she called me to ask where the camera was, I told her, knowing that if it even had a battery in it, it wouldn’t be charged, and I had no idea where the charger was. (Welcome to the world of Iphone cameras.) I figured she’d run into these obstacles and give it up. I should have known better.
She indeed discovered that the battery was missing. Somehow she convinced Toni to drive her store to store in search of a replacement. After several attempts, they found one at a batteries-only store. She charged it overnight and it was ready to go the next morning.
Later, I received this text from Toni: “So the good news is Zoe had a great time. The bad news is the camera got knocked out of her hand and bit the dust.”
I responded, “Of course.”
Zoe was, as you can imagine, very upset. I have yet to determine if it was fear of getting in trouble or distress over not getting more stellar shots like these:
The camera was toast. She stewed a while, but in the end was able to enjoy herself. She even got an autograph. On her black shirt. In black sharpie.
That night around midnight I texted Sydney, asking her how the play had gone. I got no response. The next morning I texted my mom.
“How was the show?”
“Well. It was complicated. I was trying to figure out what I thought about the play this morning. I’m thinking it wasn’t great.”
Let me back up a bit. Nathan is in an improv drama class at school. A couple months ago, he came to me and said, ” I have to see a live theater performance by Friday.” It was Wednesday. He had done a little research online and said he found a show playing that he wanted to see- “Batboy The Musical.” For those of you unfamiliar with Batboy, he was a staple on the cover of the “Weekly World News” a while back. Some twisted mind had thought to make it into a musical.
The show was at 10pm the following night down at Seattle Center. There was no way this was happening. I looked online, found that “Jersey Boys” was playing the next afternoon, and bought tickets for Nathan, Zoe and I. (As a result you can often hearing Zoe singing, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” around the house.)
This time, he came to me after school one day and said, “I need you to take me to the school for a performance for drama tonight at 7.” Unfortunately, that was the day that Parker spiked a 104 degree fever and I was on my way to the hospital instead of the school. We forgot all about it until a few days later when he came to me again and said that since he had missed the thing at school, now he had to go to a real play. By June 6. I scoured online looking for something. There were two options: a questionable comedy show at 10pm on a school night, or “FELA! ”
“FELA!” had a short video of highlights on their website, along with rave reviews by celebrities who had gone to see the opening. I saw tribal music and dancing, bright colors. I knew it was about a man named Fela, but had never heard anything about his story. I was kind of jealous I wouldn’t get to see the show. Turns out appearances can be deceiving.
The morning of the show I got a text from Sydney. “This play says it has strong language, sexual content and drugs.”
I responded, “I already paid, so you’re gonna have to deal. I had limited options.”
After speaking with my mom, Sydney and Nathan separately since the show, I have been able to piece together the debacle that was “FELA!”
According to Nathan, Sydney was either sitting uncomfortably with her arms crossed throughout the first half, or sleeping. Perhaps she was just trying to avoid eye contact with everyone. My mother said Nathan seemed uncomfortable with the whole thing, and didn’t want to go to the Cheesecake Factory afterwards for dessert. (I originally thought that meant they didn’t go, but it turns out that they went and he sat there while the other two enjoyed their desserts.) Sydney took issue with the dancing, as she felt it was hypersexual. She also wasn’t a fan of the audience participation portion of the show, asking them to dance like the cast. I asked her if my mom had danced, and she said, “I was afraid to look.”
Sydney said the second half was more enjoyable because they seemed to be discussing something more meaningful than in the first half. I still don’t have a clear understanding of what the play was about, but my mother described it this way: “It seems like it was too big and dark a story to be told as a musical. There was a lot of music and dancing but it was in the context of the brutal regime running Nigeria in the 70’s. Fela’s mother was thrown out of a second story window when the soldiers attacked the family compound and the story related his asking for ‘permission’ to leave Nigeria. She appeared as a spirit and sang amazing solos. It’s truly hard to explain.”
Nothing like traumatizing your mother and children in an attempt to salvage a B minus. Nathan submitted his report yesterday. His review said, “There was a lot of swearing and immature humor.”
Sounds like a fun, light-hearted night at the theater if you ask me. Sigh.
Saturday morning, Toni loaded up the kids, dropped Zoe and Nathan with my parents and headed up to Jim Creek for the Boy Scout camping trip. I was surprised to receive this photo of my typically cautious and non-thrill seeking child:
I felt terrible when I heard that they had tent camped in the rain. Have I mentioned what a good sport Toni is?
Parker really enjoyed the trip, which, unfortunately, means I will probably have to go camping this summer.
Sunday I got a call from my parents’ secondary phone number. There was no message. I called back and Zoe answered. I said, “Did you call?” She said, “No.” I said, “Did Nathan call?” “No. No one called.” I said, “Zoe, I have a missed called from this number on my phone. Someone called.” “No. No one called you. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
A while later Jeff looked at his phone. He had a missed call also around the same time, from the same number. This one with a voicemail. From Zoe. Telling on Nathan.
When we got to the airport I saw I had missed another call from that number, this time with a voicemail. It was Zoe saying she didn’t feel good. I knew she was just missing us.
When our plane landed I turned my phone back on and there was another voicemail. “Mom, Nathan doesn’t believe I was born in Utah, so, yeah. And so… that was all I was gonna tell you. ok bye.”
It’s nice to know that even though they had lots of fun while we were gone, they still miss us. And truth be told, those welcome home hugs are the best. I’ll be sure to enjoy them the next time we get away, hopefully in the not too distant future. Seriously. Sooner rather than later.