Sunday, August 16, 2009

August 14, 2009

Yesterday I proposed to Bill that perhaps we should use this year to create our own pathetic and satirical versions of the NYT "36 Hours in…" features on all the lovely places of the world. We could do "36 hours in Dublin," for example, stressing the ways that we use history museums to kill time and save money, our two-hour TV binges back at the hotel every afternoon, and the way that we guiltily like to return to the same old places, even on a 36 hour trip, just for a little sense of the familiar. We could write about creative ways to get our children to order things we would like to eat, recognizing that they never finish what they order anyway. We would fill our guides with all the best places to play freeze tag, to buy Skittles, and to nap under cozy down duvets in the middle of the day while battling off our children's whiny, jet-lagged ennui. I'm not sure that anyone aside from us will find these guides useful, and we will may never return to these places again -- certainly not with the same-aged children -- but we will certainly find them entertaining to catalogue. Stand by for "36 hours Barcelona," followed by "36 Weeks Aups, France," the adventure guide beginning late tomorrow morning.

In Dublin, our 36 hours has actually been three full days, starting at 6:00 AM on Tuesday, and ending at 6:00 AM on Friday, so perhaps we have deserved our repeat visits to our favorite pubs, our singular dependence on Guinness for hydration, and the many walks up and down Grafton Street, which is super irritating to try to walk down, and super conveniently located between our hotel and most of the things we walk to visit.

This morning we dragged our toxically tired children out of bed again at the crack of 9:00 AM. Grace had gone to bed the night before furious, unable to accept how cruel her parents were not to allow her to write on her own hands in purple ink in the dark. I'm not particularly proud of the way that I spoke to her the third time she shouted at me, begging for me to turn on the light. I turned on the light and stood over her like a madwoman, insisting that I would not turn it off again until she was really, truly done with her toddler tantrum. (It is rarely evident to me in the heat of my own tantrums how toddler-like they are, and how frequently they align precisely with the toddler-like tantrums of my own children.) Eventually she was either chagrined or terrified by my madwoman act, and she settled down a little, but still talked, laughed, and shouted in her sleep most of the night. By breakfast time, she was truly disabled by her own fatigue, but seemed to have left her crankiness behind. The only evidence was the purple ink scrawl on her sad little palms, instructions she had written to herself for managing her awful parents. "Don't ask for things when Mommy is mad." Damn good advice, purple ink or no purple ink.

Once they got themselves out of the room, they were faced by a breakfast of a size that very few long-haul truckers could manage to wade through without assistance. Even without the hot chocolate that Grace wisely decided to forego in the hopes that she could finish her breakfast, the "half full Irish" included far too many sausages, perfectly fried/poached eggs and huge slices of bacon for her to eat. Abigail chose the rich and delicious cheese omelette, and cried for mercy four bites in. I stuck with the Nobel yogurt, plus as much coffee as I could rightfully ask for. The innkeeper and his wife continued to dote on us in the most loving fashion. I have decided that Number 31 Leeson Close is truly the nicest B and B in the world.

I also decided last night that today would be an educational day, and that the kids would learn something, goddamnit. Perhaps it is the arrival of mid-August that has awakened the teacher within me. More likely it is the guilty parent springing to life. My dear friend at work (the work that is no longer mine, of course) is avidly watching the number of math problems completed on our school's website by the children under her care. Thus, she knows full well that Grace has done precisely NO math for over two months. How did this happen? Was it the lack of internet access? Was it the lack of concern in my black, black heart?

So in light of the kids' entire lack of learning of the last two and a half months (and, I might argue, the excellent emotional and physical growth of the same period of time) we thought that today would be all for Viking History, Medieval History, and The Book of Kells. We were happily aided by the thematic connection provided by The Magic Treehouse Vikings-and-Monks-in-Dublin book I happened to toss in Abby's bag last minute.

Once at the museum, we learned that Vikings used moss as toilet paper, that small children were sold as slaves in Viking Dublin, and that Mideval people kept dead rabbits hanging in their kitchens. The Trinity college tour was full-on adorable, courtesy of the smart undergrad who provided it. The Book of Kells was a whole lot of build-up, a lot less exciting than children might have hoped for, but simply remarkable for adults who understand things like time and how hard it is to keep books you really like. (The awful ones seem impossible to lose.)

Afternoon included a brief visit to an Internet Café so that I could get my fix of friends and family, then the usual afternoon sloth attack (TV and ipod action for the girls, a big old fat nap for me.) For dinner we tried to choose a different pub, but failed miserably and ended up back at Foley's. Perhaps the "36 Hours in…" features as they are currently written are based on the fact that you run out of places you'd like to go once in the first 36 hours. The places you want to go again and again you go to again in hour 37. Foley's (with meat pie, chicken tenders, Irish Stew and, natch, Guinness) is just that sort of place. Nobody fell on the floor today.

Tomorrow being our trip to Nice, I have put myself in my usual travel tizzy. I can only hope, but not reasonably expect, that the trip will be as smooth and simple as the trip that got us here to Dublin. Bill has been pouring over French maps and made the taxi reservation for 4:30 AM. I got the 4 AM wakeup call and packed everybody's stuff. Our little sojourn here is ended, and the new life ahead is just about to begin.

36 weeks in Aups, here we come.

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