If there is a butt-hole on the planet Earth it is Sea World, San Antonio, TX. Does that give you a feel for how our trip went?
It started off pretty decent; both our kids made it all the way to Austin (our lunch destination) without needing to be fed, watered, or needing a diaper change/potty break. We lunched at Shady Grove, a trailer park turned restaurant, under beautiful blue skies and munched on yummy food. Sam was pretty decent during the meal, though I had to bring out her Barbie dolls I’d brought as a "surprise toy" to help her make it until her lunch arrived. The beginnings of what would become an epic bad attitude started peaking through when she ignored my orders to stay in her seat and, instead, wandered around the restaurant like a gypsy. It’s so much fun to chase your child around a crowded public place while using this whisper-yell to threaten her with a permanent time-out. And you just know everyone watching is looking up the number for the Super Nanny because you’re a mom in desperate need of parenting advice!
After lunch we went to Zilker park, one of many fine Austin parks, to ride a little train, play on the play ground, and wade in the river. The train is super cute, but only two to a car so Jake and I rode in one while Jeff and Sam rode in another. I got the best end of that deal because Jake smiled and cooed while I could hear Sam whining about being cold and wanting to get off to pet a duck. Along the train’s path we saw lots of joggers, cyclists, one unicyclist, ducks, and a dude playing guitar and harmonica. Only in Austin.
We finally got back on the road to San Antonio….during rush hour. Traffic doesn’t really bother me, but my husband goes bonkers. Luckily he only dropped one or two curses, but I know one day my darling daughter is going to call my mother a dickhead or something equally unsavory that she’s picked up from Husband’s road rage expletives.
Once in San Antonio we headed straight for our hotel, Omni Mansion Del Rio. It seemed nice enough in the lobby (Sam pronounced it beautiful) but the room was small and the bathroom teeny tiny. And let me tell you, when you have a three year old that has to be everywhere you are, you need to be able to turn around in the bathroom without knocking your kid in the head with your ass (granted, some of the problem is the size of my ass).
We had one room for all of us, two double beds and a bassinet for Jake. Husband and I haven’t slept in a double bed in a few years and now I remember why. We barely fit on the thing and both of us have some sort of disorder where our bodies turn into heat generators once bedded down for the night. This biological condition led me to climb into bed with my daughter both nights (one night my attempt to change beds got botched and I fell off, but luckily the stroller broke my fall- and my ass).
Anyway, we unpacked a bit then headed out to have dinner on the River Walk. We got as far as the exit from our hotel before realizing no way was this going to work. There were stairs leading down from the hotel and stairs pretty much everywhere we looked—a stroller nightmare. While we discussed what to do Sam kept running off and the more we ordered her to stay by us the farther off she ventured (while yelling "LA, LA, ,LA, LA!"). Meanwhile, Jake began to cry because the poor kid was starving. Husband decided we would not survive as a family if we tried to eat out so we wheeled Jake and dragged Sam back to the hotel room where we ate underwhelming, overpriced, room service.
Once both kids were fed they fell asleep pretty quickly which was awesome because that meant Husband and I could watch a movie, but, of course, the pay-per-view was not working in our room. The front desk offered to send someone up to do maintenance, but since it was 10:30 p.m. and we had two sleeping kids, not to mention I was already in my bed gear, we declined. With nothing else to do I passed out.
Amazingly, both kids slept great. Jake was so quiet in his bassinet that I got up in the night to make sure he was still breathing. Sam tossed and turned a bit, but got plenty of sleepy time. So, you’d think we’d all be rested and ready for Sea World. But, oh no.
The morning of our Sea World adventure we swung into the hotel restaurant for breakfast where our children proceeded to disintegrate. Jake was fussy for reasons known only to him and Sam was 100% pure, concentrated evil. She wouldn’t sit in her chair, she didn’t like how I colored something so she yelled at me (big no no), she broke her crayons, she tried to slide out of the chair under the chair arm and got her head stuck, she hid from us under the table, she banged her fork, and when told not to even touch it she looked right at us while gently prodding the fork with her finger.
During all of this mayhem Husband volunteered to wheel Jake around in his stroller to see if he’d go to sleep. Looking back I realize he was just escaping our daughter. Five minutes after he left, Sam decided she needed to go with him and when I told her it was too late so she’d have to wait with me, and all hell broke loose. She started crying saying, “I want my Daaaaddyyyyy”. I’m talking big fat tears, snot streaming, screaming, crying. And as if he was never coming back (thought sometimes I wonder).
I’d like to say I calmed my daughter with soothing, but firm words of reason, but I lost it. I yanked her out of her seat leaving all our stuff behind and went outside the restaurant so she wouldn’t disturb the rest of the place with her caterwauling. As the outrageous crying continued, I begged her to stop. I told her she was going to be in big trouble if she didn’t stop. I asked her what her problem was and then I called her a monster. Bad mommy. Just as Husband came into sight I finally told her to forget Sea World because we were going home (and I so meant it)! Husband overruled me because he’d already bought the Sea World tickets and there ain’t no way Husband would let a pre-purchased ticket go to waste.
So I threw Sam at Husband and took Jake back to the table to await our food. I’d eaten half my breakfast by the time a sweet faced, slightly contrite Sam returned with Husband. I tried not to see Satan when I looked at her, but it was hard even though she was perfect throughout the rest of breakfast.
We finally get to Sea World, where the real tragedy begins. First of all, there’s about 4 billion people made up of parents, kids, the slow moving elderly, and 100 million strollers jammed into what is not a very big park. This is not good for me because where some people have road rage I have pedestrian rage (I once clipped a woman’s heel with my Target cart, on purpose, for repeatedly cutting me off then slow-walking in front of me).
Second of all, there’s not much for a three year old to do there, but look at a few exhibits and see the shows. The first thing we did was head to the Shamu theatre since it looked like our day would revolve around the various theatrical fish performances. Once seated in the Shamu theater, Sam started whining about not wanting to see Shamu. How is it I have the only kid in the world not interested in Shamu? We made her watch the show and she seemed to enjoy it until we tried to engage her then she’d snarl at us.
The rest of the time was spent wondering around in the sun trying to navigate the crowd and find something she was interested in doing. It went pretty much like this:
Parent #1: Let’s go see the dolphins!
Sam: I don’t wanna see the dolphins!
Parent #2: Come on, it’ll be fun!
Sam: I don’t wanna have fun!
Parent #2: Well, how about the sea lion show?
Sam: I don’t wanna see the sea lions!
Parent #1: Well, what do you want to do?!
Around 2:00 p.m. we decided to eat, but despite the late hour every restaurant was jam-packed. Sea World only has about five restaurants and each of them had about four thousand people waiting to eat. While in search of food, Sam decided she was thirsty, but we could find no water vendor so for twenty minutes she trailed me whining, “I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee, I’m thirrrsteee”. You get the idea. I wanted to throw myself into a tank of piranhas.
We finally found one restaurant where there was an empty table and a reasonable line, but Sam and Husband decided it was stinky so we left. In what amounts to the greatest give up in parenting history we bought Sam some Cheetos and cotton candy for lunch. It was a sad day.
As we walked around the park like a pack of lost nomads I wondered why we ever thought this was a good idea. And as if to taunt us, every five feet there was a sign suggesting we upgrade our admission ticket to a season pass. Season pass to Hell? Here’s my ad for Sea World:
Purchase a Season Pass to Hell for the small price of your soul and enjoy eternal damnation all summer long!
Around 4:00 p.m. we decided we’d had enough. On the way back to the hotel Husband and I debated pulling the plug on this horrific trip and heading for home, but realized the hotel would make us pay for the night whether we stayed or not so we, of course, decided to stay. The next debate was about what to do in a hotel room with a toddler and a baby for four hours or until bedtime. Husband was panicked about how to fill the time since he bores as easily as a three year old.
As we drug our tired, stinky selves up to our hotel room we met the maid who was just then coming to clean our room. I love a freshly cleaned hotel room, but don’t love it when they have to do it with me watching in uncomfortable silence so I took some towels and told then to never mind.
Husband decided we might be able to carry Jake and control Sam long enough to eat on the River Walk so we packed up and made our way to a restaurant directly across from the hotel. We made it through dinner without a whole lot of trauma, but we did have to stay on Sam about sitting in her seat and just generally minding us.
Thankfully dinner burned an hour and a half so by the time we got back to our room we had an hour of play time and bath time then went directly to bed time. Sam had lost her movie watching privileges twelve times during the day so when she sweetly asked for her movie we reminded her there would be no movie. Meltdown. Husband piled the blankets and pillows on the foot of her bed as a makeshift wall between her and the T.V. where I had on Dateline, telling her she better not look at the T.V. or she’d never watch a movie again. (I realize I should have sacrificed television to make it less challenging for her, but I was still cranky from the morning shenanigans) Amazingly, it worked and within twenty minutes she was asleep.
Husband and I watched “I Am Legend” (see sidebar for review) while both kids slept like rocks. It was the best part of the stinkin trip.
When morning came we packed up and got the hell out of San Antonio. Of course, Sam was acting like an angel now that we were leaving. We made another remarkable car trip with zero stops between San Antonio and Dallas for either kid.
So, to recap, Sea World San Antonio is the Butt-hole of the Universe, though I recognize my experience is colored by my demon spawn. I do believe this trip taught us a valuable lesson about traveling with young children--don’t.
This says it all.