Let the family love in.
Because when you're coming back claustrophobic in the slow moving beach-goer current after a day trip over the hill inland without the traffic, you wish you would've stayed home instead. ("The hill" being the Santa Cruz Mountains and the "day trip" being to Happy Hollow in San Jose and back again with two little girls, the Mama and the Daddy.)
Although most parents do everything they can to plan for the most painless trips to here or there with their little ones, the reality is you can't plan for when patience runs out and little emotional volcanos need to vent, and how that venting drives the dormancy out of the adult volcanos as well.
Especially when you knew the traffic would be bad coming home, and your foresight overshadowed the hope of quiet, happy kid camper, safe passage.
Earlier that morning when we left for Happy Hollow, I asked Bea, "Where are we going?"
"Zoooooo!" she answered. Bryce squealed and cooed.
Blink. We were on our way. Smooth sailing with the exception of a little scary foreshadowing -- there had been a horrible accident going the other way on Highway 17. Emergency vehicles everywhere. Multiple cars pulled over, some with visible crash marks and one car was on fire. The backed up cars behind it looked like a parking lot.
There was a pop from the burning car and Mama said, "Speed up and get by this, please." And so I did.
Blink. We were there. At Happy Hollow. Riding the Merry-Go-Round. Running to the goats, to the miniature horses, to the cow, to the turkey, to the turtle, to the monkeys, to the meerkats, Bea throwing the food pellets to the ground in front of the animals because she was scared to feed them -- then to the swing ride, to the slide area, having lunch on the grass, then back to the Merry-Go-Round for one last ride.
Blink. We were on our way again. Back in the car. Going home. Moving along nicely until --
We weren't. Memorial Day Weekend gridlock stopped us cold, inching towards the mountains, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and other coastal drifts.
Inching along with Mama in the back between Bryce and Bea, doing everything she could to distract and entertain. But then the toy luster wore off and the DVD player locked up and the iPod Touch lost juice and only my iPhone remained with just enough kid video misdirection for Beatrice to relax the rest of the way, poor little Bryce blew.
Her patience had run out miles back and her unhappiness eruption spewed all over the back seat, covering her and the Mama, but thankfully not Bea. Mama kept it together and sang to Bryce (although I did see a thin stream of red lava flow down from the top of the Mama's head). That calmed Bryce down enough to survive the final 20 minutes to get across town to home, which was painfully glacial for me because by that time I was ready. To. Get. Out.
Blink. We were home again. No more crying. All laughter and smiles. As if nothing happened except the fun family memories we shared.
Right on, sister B-hive. Right on.
Let the family love in before you pass out.