Saturday, April 19, 2014

Poppy Fat Camp, pass the Tang please.

We had been invited to spend a weekend babysitting for our toddler granddaughters (twin 2 year olds and another who just turned 1).

How hard could this be? We witnessed our daughter manage these cuties and run a household with ease and organization, and after all she is a product of our superior genes, and these southern belles are so sweet how could we refuse.

As soon as the date for her mini vacation with her husband was set, our train tickets were purchased and the anticipation was underway.

We were confident in being able to handle this assignment easily as we just knew that two seasoned professionals could certainly overcome any parenting obstacles our daughter had to endure with ease.

Tag-team grand parenting should allow us ample time to relax, at days end, fulfilled in the knowledge that two-and-a-half tots were no match for such brilliance.

Realities became apparent almost immediately the moment the parents loaded the car and waved adios:

1. It had been decades since we were the youthful, barely-legal parents of tots and now we had been commissioned for duty for an entire weekend.

2. There were 3 of them.

Yes, coordinating the daily life of two and a half tots can be an eye opener, and gathering them together for activities can be like herding kittens, at any moment they are in different stages of dress/undress, toy preferences changing by the second, food etiquette soars out the window, diapers are constant.

By evenings end when bath and bedtime were finally accomplished (it would take paragraphs to describe that adventure each night), and household cleanup was finalized,there was just enough energy left to find a pillow and crash.

It is a great workout if you are trying to lose weight. By bedtime your body knows it’s been really busy. I called it “Poppy Fat Camp” and highly recommend it to those “Biggest Loser” style television programs. Run after a flock of toddlers for a few months and watch the fat melt rapidly.

In the movie “Groundhog Day” there was a recurring scene where Bill Murray would awaken each morning at the exact time, having to endure the same daily scenario until he made right events in his life needing correction.

It was a little like that!

Truth be told by day three the tots finally had conditioned us to be aligned with their orbit and we survived, eventually getting it just right and ready to tackle the task again when asked.

Just maybe not when they are teenagers.

The Train Trip

As always, I need to comment on Amtrak’s Carolinian train travel.

Heading south the train was ½ hour late arriving in Philly. By the time we reached Greensboro that amplified into 90 minutes.  When delays occur you can usually hear rumblings in the seats requesting updates from the staff. 

Having spent years in the printing and publishing industry I know it is futile to ever get the strait scoop for any delay.

Just like printers, train staffs are experienced in explaining away encountered problems in a way a passenger can understand.

“Sorry sir, we had a family of rabid raccoons on the tracks near Raleigh and had to wait until Amtrak animal control could arrive and safely remove them”.

Still I would rather be a little late riding the rails then circling above airports or sitting for hours on a tarmac, at least without being heavily imbibed.

It was nice to see the Washington Monument finally restored and the “erector set” that surrounded it during restoration removed.

One curious observation I noticed in Virginia was a man having to stand outside his place of business for a smoke break.

He worked at a cigarette wholesale warehouse.

I believe that if you work in the capital of tobacco, and in a related field, it should be mandatory to smoke indoors. You should not even be allowed to hire a non-smoker.

The smoke police have way too much power (and I am an ex-smoker, 20 years).

My boss, Joseph A. Carter, commented, “Virginia is for lovers, not smokers”.

The Astronaut Wife

If you were alive during the early days of the space race, or if you ever visit the Air and Space Museum, or viewed online, you will see the capsules used during the early Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

These are quite constraining and would have any claustrophobic running for the Ativan just by taking a peek inside.

My wife would have been an ideal candidate for an astronaut.

Not only can she sit in the confines of a train seat surrounded by numerous bags (2 carry on limit, she smuggled in another 8 or 9), she can actually sit at a 90 degree angle and somehow stretch her arms to reach the floor and under the seat in front of her (like some kind of DC Comics Radioactive freakazoid heroine) to retrieve a PB and J sandwich stored in her lunchbox.

I can just imagine the other astronauts asking her “could you pass the TANG please”?

Overall it was a great trip, and look forward to going again.

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