I had been really looking forward to this Saturday all week. Melvin wasn’t on call, and I wasn’t out of town, so I thought we’d have a really nice “family day.” I really felt that all would be perfect if we spent the day together.
Max apparently was looking forward to this day as well, as he decided to begin it at 6 AM. His ears seem to be bothering him again, so he’s been very cranky, and did not like it AT ALL that I refused to continue to pour more Ice Age cereal into his bowl just so he could continue pick through it and eat only the marshmallows.
After 3 hours of the kids this morning, I finally woke Melvin up and told him it was his turn. I was able to sleep for about an hour before Ella needed my attention. I was only woken up a couple times during this “nap” with Ella crying and Cameron whisking the covers off me, as he was apparently playing hide-and-seek with Melvin, and he thought the blob in bed might have been him.
Eventually, by about 2:30, after some cleaning, lunch, naps, etc. we finally made it out of the house. I had heard good things about the IMAX Undersea 3D film, and since Max goes crazy with delight when he’s around a fish tank, I thought this would be a fun outing. Well, silly me to think so. Max was interested for about 3 minutes, and then found it more exciting to play “switch laps” between Melvin and I, to check out the heads of the people in the row in front of us and to try to escape the whole movie. The whole 3D experience was giving Melvin a headache, so he offered to take Max out, while Cameron (who was refusing for over ½ the movie to put on his glasses) and I tried to finish the documentary. Instead of enjoying it in peace, Cameron kept commenting, “When is this going to be over? It’s too long. When can I go get some popcorn?” (To this last question I told a parental “sanity” lie, informing him they had stopped selling it when the movie started). The movie ended quicker than what I had expected, and although it looked fascinating with the whole 3D effect, I found the film to generally be boring, so I can’t say I was disappointed with its abrupt ending. We were then going to enjoy the sunny, 50 degree weather by walking around the zoo where the IMAX is located, only to discover that it had just closed.
So I decided it would be exciting to make our way to the Mall of America for some more “family fun” and to have dinner. Forgetting about the weekend crowds, especially at dinnertime, we had the bright idea of going to Rainforest Café, where I standed in line for over 15 minutes just to get on the waiting list. After being given a return time of an hour later, we took the boys to the amusement park in the center of the mall, where they at least had fun. As our reservation time rolled around, we told Cameron he could come back after dinner to go on one more ride. He wanted to keep the ticket himself, so we told him to put it somewhere safe so that he wouldn’t lose it. Into his pocket his ticket went, and off to the overpriced, but decorated for ultimate kiddo distraction, Rainforest Café we went, only to discover that our table still was not ready.
Melvin had to make a trip to the bathroom, so I was left in the overcrowded Rainforest store, by myself with the 3 kiddos, awaiting our table and Melvin’s return. The fish tanks only kept the boys preoccupied for so long. And then Max began to wander, touching everything in site, as I forced Cameron to stick with him, while he also felt the need to put his hands on every little knick knack in view. Thankfully Ella just slept soundly as I awkwardly maneuvered the big double stroller around the merchandise displays as they boys made their presence known.
By the time our table was called, it was 7 PM and the boys were starving. So as we waited for our food, we heard the constant nagging of Cameron letting us know just how hungry he was, and Max spent the time blowing bubbles into his chocolate milk. We requested to have their food brought out early, which kept them busy for a few minutes, but by the time our food came, they were done eating and Max started playing “musical laps” again, and also felt the need to be helpful by dunking all of my chicken fingers, and anything else in reach, into my sauce. Finished with his meal, Cameron kept asking when we were going to be done so that he could go on the rides.
When we couldn’t take anymore, we arose to go to the rides again, only to discover that the ticket for the rides was no longer in Cameron’s pocket. We asked at the front if anyone had turned it in, but no one had. Needless to say we had a disappointed little 4 year old on our hands, but wanting to teach him to be responsible for his things, when he told us to just buy another ticket, we actually said no, and headed toward our exit floor.
And then the fun really began.
Melvin announced that he was going to get the kids ice cream before we left. I cringed at the thought of this…Max and ice cream…not a good idea, but the plan was already announced in front of the kiddos, so we proceeded. Of course Max had ice cream all over him, and Cameron, who seemed to be in rare whiny form today, was not happy with the custard style ice cream and chocolate sauce Melvin had purchased the two boys. Thinking whipped cream would make him happy, I went back and had that added, but he still was not content. Eventually he relented and took it from me when I literally put a spoonful in his mouth to shut up his complaining.
After the ice cream was all cleaned up, we headed to the exit doors. But then I realized that we were on the wrong floor. Melvin headed to the crowded elevator holding Max, while I was pushing Ella in the stroller and oblivious Cameron continued to head toward the exit doors. I went and got him, telling him to hurry up and get on the elevator. By the time I reached there to hop on, Melvin asked me if I knew where Cameron was. I told him I thought he had run on the elevator and wasn’t he with him. He told me no, and a quick glance around the crowded elevator of impatient people led us to believe the he wasn’t there. We quickly jumped off and scanned the area, where Cameron was no where to be seen. All of this literally happened within 2 minutes. And in seeing that he was not in the immediate area, my heart dropped, for I just knew he must’ve been on that overcrowded elevator.
Panic set in. The area was crowded because we were at the Rotunda elevators, where there happened to be an Elvis impersonator contest going on all night. And as if the sound of Elvis over and over wasn’t unsettling enough in this situation, while Melvin was off looking for Cameron, Ella was in her carseat crying, and Max was screaming trying to get out of the stroller as I wheeled through the crowds looking for my lost son. When I think about it now, it was as if we were reenacting a scene in a movie with all the stress and the sites and sounds.
Not knowing where Melvin went, and feeling useless just standing there with my unhappy kids, I discovered that we were right near the Mall location of the Bloomington police station. But that turned out to be no help at all, as the place was closed (????). After about 10 to 15 minutes of waiting around, searching, panicking, praying, I found some security guards. But at the same time, I heard someone call out my name. Across the Rotunda, coming down the escalator, there Melvin was with an obviously sad, but quite brave little boy, in his arms. A huge feeling of relief set in, and with a quick thank you to God, and a big hug to Cameron, we headed out of that place as quickly as possible.
How scary the ending of our day was, and I am incredibly grateful to the person who saw Cameron crying and took him to a security guard where Melvin found him 2 floors above us.
Despite all the difficulties, I’m still glad we were able to spend the whole day together as a family. Even though he had reason to, Melvin didn’t complain even once about my Saturday ideas of family fun. The excitement on the boys’ faces when they went on the rides was priceless. They were completely overjoyed being surrounded by life-like animals, rain and trees at the restaurant. And Ella was super smiley and quite content all through the movie and dinner. But next time I look forward to having a fun family day, I think I’ll lower my expectations…just a little.