By Contributing Editor Jenny Isenman
I had a night away this weekend, a night away. It has been 6 months, almost to the day, since the last time I had a night away. Yes, I am on the half year excursion plan. Twice a year I take the long ride from Weston to Fort Lauderdale, or South Beach, or Naples and spend a single night with as much day wrapped around both sides as my parents or in-laws will allow. We couldn’t go far, and because I was looking for optimum veg time, proximity was second only to my first criteria – NO KIDS.
Yes, I said it … NO KIDS. I had to find a close hotel that was kid free during spring break, when every cold frostbitten family packs up their 2.5 children, takes their pets to the kennel, and comes to Florida hoping to thaw out. I, on the other hand, needed to chill out and the best place seemed to be this boutiquey hotel on Lauderdale Beach called The Atlantic. The pool was off-putting to children, a long and narrow rectangle with no slides or falls. The décor was very hip, mod in an Ian Schrager, “don’t touch that kid, it will break” kinda way. I would avoid a place like this at all costs with my kids, as it blared “BORING” to anyone under sixteen. I banked on other families’ sense of “funless” to be on par with my own.
Wearing my too teeny bikini, I immediately found the pool and within moments I was donning an ipod, reading my book and sipping champagne. Totally enthralled with my book, I must not have noticed the influx of people at my tiny boutique pool. But then I heard someone scream, “Marco!” and though I am in South Florida where a name like Marco is not so uncommon, I could tell this was not some adult woman calling her adult husband to come put sunblock on her back.
“What the hell was that?” I asked Mark, like I had just heard a gunshot. “A kid,” he nonchalantly replied, like my gunshot was just some car backfiring. I looked up and, Lo and behold, it wasn’t just one kid it was a whole pack of them. Maybe five ranging in age from about 4 to 10. I shuddered as the largest one, who was undeniably their bossy leader, demanded another pool game that had them screaming answers to random questions, and swimming all over my tiny boring lap pool.
Leader: “WHAT‘S YOUR FAVORITE SHOW?”
Kid 1: “WHAT?”
Kid 2: “She said what’s your favorite show,” the little one repeated shaking in fear.
Kid 1: “OH, I’LL GIVE YOU A HINT, IT’S TWO WORDS.”
Why are they screaming? They’re 5 feet apart.
Leader: “TOTAL DRAMA ISLAND.”
Kid 1: “I SAID 2 WORDS!”
Kid 3: “I think I know what it is. Can I guess?”
Leader: “NO! GIVE ME ANOTHER HINT.”
Kid 1: “FINE IT STARTS WITH AN I.”
Leader: “INDIANA JONES?”
Kid 1: “YOU SAID A SHOW NOT A MOVIE.“
Leader: “GIVE ME ANOTHER HINT.”
Kid 1: “NONANA NOPE NOPE…NOPE NOPE.”
Oh, come on, give her another hint already.
Kid 1: “I. C. AND IT’S ABOUT THE INTERNET.”
Leader: “WHAT IS IT? I DON”T KNOW.”
Kid 1: “WELL, I’M NOT GONNA TELL YOU TILL YOU GET IT.”
iCarly, iCarly, don’t suggest the game if you suck at it. I mean hello?
Leader: “UMMM, I GIVE UP.”
Kid 1: “I CARLY!”
I knew it.
Leader: “THAT’S CHEATING. MAHHHHHHHM MOM! HE CHEATED HE SAID IT WAS TWO WORDS AND iCARLY IS JUST……..”
Had this really happened? Had my ipod faded into the background and the passage of my book still not registered after reading it 3 times over? I was actually angry. I am so capable of tuning my own kids out, why was I not able to use this skill on someone else’s?
My penthouse suite, which was graciously extended to me when I explained my bi-annual excursion plan, wouldn’t be ready for hours. I watched as kid 4 goaded kids 2 and 3 by bobbing up and down chanting “DIVE!” every time his head cleared the water. I guess he hoped this would annoy them. I gave the parents a sideways glance to let them know that it was working on me, but they pretended not to notice.
Then it dawned on me. I am the crotchety lady that shushes other peoples kids. Maybe it was all the trips to the cardiologist, maybe my patience had been worn paper thin trying to get my own children to listen to me for half second. Each “Can you do it for me?” “Not now, Mommy.“ “No way, Jose.“ scratching one more layer from the surface. One would think, out of politeness, I would be less overtly bothered by other people’s children, but the truth is I have to save that rigorous acting job for when mine send me over the edge. So as my son would say to my daughter, “Too bad, so sad.”
The bobbing continued and noodles burst across the pool like fireworks. This is the reason they invented adult swim… and boutique hotels. While frantically searching for someone with a whistle, I noticed the other adults. Why were they so calm? Why weren’t they shooting looks at the over-permissive parents like I was? Were they not being over-permissive? —allowing their children to have so much fun around the pool on vacation?
Then it hit me…the hot tub. The one refuge that still belongs to us serious adults. With my book in hand I crossed the trendy stretch only to find another pack; they were multiplying faster than I could count, and now they had infiltrated the sacred whirlpool area. An area that actually has an age requirement. It was so unnatural, like seeing raccoons scavenging during the day, it was just wrong. Two kids watched the third one diving to the bottom against the current of the jets, kicking his feet all the while.
I thought, can I tell these kids to scram? But wait, aren’t I supposed to be representing the next generation of parents? The cool parents. Not our parents or their parents’ generations who would have scoffed before entry and sent the kids running for the hills. We “hip parents” have a rep to protect, right? We’re like kids ourselves. In fact, if you hadn’t met our children you would think we were too young, too fun, too awesome to be “parents.”
I told myself, say something funny and endearing thereby shattering their vision of adults as naysayers and fun-enders. So, after carefully choosing my words I let my tension go, eased into the whirlpool and said, “Could you please stop splashing, it’s getting my book all wet. I don’t know if you guys should even be in here.” I turned to pat my book with my towel and when I turned around they were gone. “Awesome, shmawesome.”
I am a neurotic mother of two amazing, wonderful, brilliant, perfect children which is saying a lot because I am a harsh critic and an uncompromising disciplinarian. You know, the kids have to sing for their supper kinda stuff… well, they at least have to ask… well, a grunt would be nice. Actually, they just sit and I make multiple meals until one is worthy of their sophisticated taste buds and doesn’t exacerbate their fear of burnt spots, crust, pizza bubbles, or food that touches other food. It is my job to keep them protected from the Florida sun, prehistoric insects, and plasticware with the number 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom. I have to expose them to just enough germs to build their immune system, while using little enough sanitizer to keep them healthy. I also have to remember to feed and water them daily.
A freelance writer for magazines such as InStyle and Mademoiselle, I also have a fabulously funny and relatable blog called suburbanjungle.net
“I had a night away from the kids this weekend, a night away!”