I totally get it that since we are now in Europe, I should be writing about all the wonderful things we are seeing and doing. However, the reality is that there have been more important things on my mind. Things that are essential to our everyday survival and haven’t necessarily gone as planned.
At this point, in the middle of glorious England, I am preoccupied with bathrooms and bedtimes. I think about bedtimes from the moment we wake up, and I think about bathrooms every time I see one or see one of our kids holding his/her crotch…as in constantly.
The obsession with both started on the plane from Reykjavik, Iceland to London, England. The first flight went fine. We landed in Reykjavik at midnight our time. So while one kiddo actually slept for about 2 hours on the flight, and the other didn’t, Missa B (the non-sleeper) has made it up to midnight before, so she wasn’t a complete wreck. And besides, what kid wouldn’t stay up to watch a 31-year-old movie? (I still can’t believe Gremlins is 31 years old — I have that blender scene stuck in my head as if it were yesterday.)
We had a 50-minute layover in Iceland. First thing we had to find? A bathroom. Now, I must say that M loved the airport bathrooms, and I did as well. Who doesn’t love going into a small room which is completely clean and has both a toilet and a high-tech sink? I was a bit surprised while sitting on the loo (being in England for 5 days has taught me that I prefer the word “loo” over any of the words we use in the States) to hear a whirring sound coming from the stall next door. Upon washing my hands, however, I found the source — put your hands under the faucet one way, and they get washed. Move them out to the sides of the faucet a bit, and voila! A hand dryer! When Missa B and I met each other afterwards in the hall, the first thing we said was, “Wasn’t that cool?!” Because it really was.
And, of course, as our plane started to board, Missa B decided she had to get to the bathroom immediately, so I sent her with instructions to “go as absolutely fast as you can.” Yes, I sent her through an airport on her own at age 9. There is something about Iceland that calms even this Chicago-bred mama bear.
On the second plane to London, Missa B was asleep before the plane was in the air. But, it was that awful, fidgety sleep where you just can’t get comfortable, especially when you are in the middle seat. Her head seemed to go in a continuous circle — from my shoulder, to the seat in front of her, to the tray table (always with a horrific clunk), to the lap of the random woman on the other side, and then back again. It was truly painful to watch. And, after about 1.5 hours of this, she lost it. She stared at me with bloodshot, tear-filled eyes and just cried, “I want to sleep!”
In the seat behind me, JJ happily watched movies next to Hubs. Until the seatbelt sign went on for landing. Then he had to go to the bathroom. Hubs, who never follows any rules, tried to convince him to get up and go to the bathroom. JJ, who is absolutely his mother’s child, insisted he could not go because the seatbelt sign was on, and then proceeded to squirm and cry. And cry. And cry. Not loudly, mind you, but enough to convince Hubs and I that we were about to land in London with a boy with soaking wet pants. He made it, however, pushing through all the people in the aisles as he headed to the back of the plane after landing. Crisis averted.
Everyone did great during the 3 hour wait for our bus to Bath. We got to know the bus center loos quite well, and let it suffice to say that they couldn’t hold a candle to those in Iceland.
As for the bus ride, we again switched up our sleepers. Hubs, who hadn’t slept at all yet, fell asleep instantly. As he tells it, after about 15 minutes, he woke himself up with a thundering snore/snort and was too embarrassed to fall asleep again. I, however, conked out for most of the trip, and although Hubs took pictures, they will not be showing up on this site. Missa B watched Harry Potter for the pretty much the duration of the 2.5 hour trip and never slept. JJ, however, passed out while playing MineCraft and eventually found himself a comfortable position:
Upon arrival in Bath, we had dinner and then headed up to bed. I gave each child a very small dose of Melatonin, and we all settled in for the night.
One small problem. Due to the Melatonin and exhaustion, JJ slept way too hard and had two accidents during the night. Missa B does not know this and will not be allowed to read this blog until she will no longer be scarred by the fact that she slept in a bed in which her brother peed.
In spite of that, I would call the night a success. They slept 13 hours, and I was convinced we had jet lag beat. We spent 3 hours touring the Roman baths and visited every restroom within a mile of the city center.
Later in the day, I took the kids to the local playground that had been highly recommended by a friend. In the meantime, Hubs went to get our rental car. He thinks we didn’t go with because the kids wanted to do the playground; the reality is that I didn’t think I could be in the car the first time he drove in England (fodder for another post).
And of course, JJ needed to use the loo. Problem is that these were coin operated loos. 20 pence to be exact. I only had a £1 coin, so I considered asking the ice cream man for change. One look at JJ’s face, however, told me that we were looking at an Icelandair repeat, so I just threw the coin in the slot. While JJ was doing his thing, a man came up with his young son and asked if I had someone in the loo who would be done soon as he just wanted to grab a tissue and didn’t want to pay 20 pence. As JJ is never quick at ANYTHING, I told him I could not guarantee a time of departure. So, he put in 20 pence and explained how when the pay loos were first installed, they put bins in the doors as a sign of protest and to allow others to use the loos for free. I had a strange picture in my head of a bunch of people marching to the loos, taking crates and sticking them in the doorways. When he exited and used the trashcan (doesn’t “bin” sound nicer?) to prop open the door, I realized the protest was much less sophisticated that I had imagined.
I will say that I was glad he did it as Missa B soon came wanting to use the loo as well. So, I kept it propped open and stood in the doorway to block the view. It gets better. Then I needed to use the loo (and yes, JJ was STILL in his), so I had her block the door. But I am taller than she is, so I made her put my purse on her head. Looking back, I can only imagine how ridiculous she looked standing with her back to an open door with a purse on her head. And I have no idea why we didn’t just shut the door. Makes perfect sense now, but it didn’t at the time.
After dinner that night, I was prepared for another easy night. I have obviously never done jet lag with kids. Missa B was up at 2:30 am and didn’t go back to sleep until 5:30 am. I was up with her, and after putting JJ in bed with Hubs, laid in bed with her and proceeded to be kicked continuously after she finally fell asleep. We all woke up at 10:30 am and had to scrap our plans to visit Longleat. $165 down the drain. Not that I’m bitter about it. Not at all.
The next night was worse. They were crazy hyper at bedtime. They tickled each other, hit each other, pulled down the pillows we had put between them, and made whatever noises they could to keep the other awake. After bribes, threats and lots of, as my friend Jenny calls it, “angry Mom voice,” we put Missa B on the floor. When she fell asleep, we made the mistake of putting her back in the bed. They again woke each other up, and eventually, Hubs slept with JJ, and I slept with Missa B.
Which brings us to our travels to Stratford-Upon-Avon where we are now. We visited every petrol station on the way learning that they, like in the States, have loos that we could use. When you can barely stay on the correct side of the road, pulling off for additional stops can be treacherous, but sometimes it is necessary (and sometimes I think the kids just wanted to see the different foods that lined the convenience store shelves…Marmite, anyone?)
Here, the kids have separate beds. Problem solved! NOT. Last night was a nightmare. Hubs finally took JJ to the car to fall asleep. Yes, the car. But eventually we got them into the same room:
At my wits’ end, I put out a call to Facebook for ideas and was pleased to see so many people responding with similar stories, suggestions that mirrored what we had tried, and general sympathy. The one new thing that was suggested was meditation podcasts.
Which we tried tonight. And it worked. It REALLY worked!
So, now it is my turn. Or, as they say here in Stratford-Upon-Avon:
“Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired…”