The long holiday weekend was jam packed full of highs and lows. A few highs included hitting two different beaches, surfing, exploring Huntington Beach and having Duke’s famous Hula Pie, riding bikes in Venice Beach, seeing the Harlem Globe Trotters play, and watching our son make a basket at his rookie basketball tournament!
And then there were the lows… Mom “ate it” on her bike, tearing up her palm on the sandy bike path and obtaining a giant, colorful bruise on the hip… but that’s nothing compared to yesterday.
Yesterday was such a banner day that the story I am about to tell you will be greeted with disbelief- but trust me- it is ALL true!
I thought it might be fun to take the kids up to LA to see a special showing of “Lady and the Tramp” at the old historic El Capitan Theater on Hollywood blvd. Quick 1 hour drive. Maybe get some lunch at the Hard Rock and ice cream at Ghiradelli? Fun mom- right?
Well, still being relatively new to CA traffic, I had not been warned about “Jamzilla”- the 80 hour closure of I-405 (Our very route, wouldn’t you know it?). No worries. I always leave plenty early. I gave us twice as much time as we had needed, but we were in the car for OVER three hours! Needless to say, we missed the 1:00 showing, for which I had ordered advance tickets. But it’s those three hours in the car that I will never forget!
The first hour went pretty smoothly. Until… One of my three tiny passengers said “I think I am getting car sick”!
OK. I can’t use my tethered cell phone on a busy LA freeway, but I CAN lean over to the passenger side floor, dump out the contents of an entire grocery bag filled with snacks, pull out a handful of napkins from the glove compartment and reach back to the third row (where there are no floor mats – because that would just be too EASY to clean up!) and hand the distressed child these supplies. The other kid jumps up and out of the path of the 10 minute vomit session and is then un-belted in the 2 MPH freeway traffic, scrambling to the other row. Half of the strawberry smoothie barf made it into the bag- the rest all over the poor thing’s clothes, seat and feet.
Staying calm, as all moms must do, I breathed only through my mouth and rolled down the windows for the remainder of the drive. Fine. Kid feels better. Aside from the smell and clean up that lies ahead, I am still determined to make this trip a success.
Until… Laughing and making light of the situation and looking forward to a place to pull over or even stop (which there is NONE), the other child cries, “I HAVE to go to the bathroom and I can’t hold it any longer”!
Are you kidding me?!
There is NO place to pull off. I can’t even change lanes in this traffic, much less exit to go find a potty. So what’s this resourceful mommy to do? I hand her a cup.
Too embarrassed to look out the window to catch any horrified passersby or scolding cop, I keep my eyes straight ahead as she pees into the cup. Fine. These things happen. No big deal.
Until… “Oh no, Mom”! “What now”?! “I spilled the cup”!
Deep breath. Whisper-count to ten. Stay calm. Pat myself on the back for keeping it together. Mentally choose my new car with clean leather seats (in which no children will be allowed to ride).
It IS what it IS- right? We pull into the theater parking lot hours after show time and ask for the manager. This is when the El Capital theater manager Michael Bandy came into my life. I love you, Michael!
After explaining our situation, Michael did what any good manager is supposed to do. He stayed calm, reassured me and exchanged my tickets for great seats at the later showing. But Michael went a step further. He let the kids clean up in his restroom; wrote out hand-drawn directions for a better, faster way to get home; recommended a place to eat within walking distance before the next show and then gave me a bucket (with a lid), latex gloves and an industrial-strength cleaning solution/ deodorizer with which to clean up my car.
When we returned for the show, Michael was there to greet us with a smile. The kids loved the show, the theater, the history and the overall experience of the El Capitan. After enjoying treats at the concession stand (because what else should a good mommy give a barfy kid, but popcorn and candy?) we made it home in just under an hour with his directions- and no one threw up!