Kids have a talent for throwing curve balls. That is just what they do. You can be having the most pleasant day then "WHAM," one starts to cry because their fish died three months ago and something at the grocery store triggered a ping of nostalgia, leading to the subsequent broken hearted breakdown. Or, you can be eating at a nice restaurant when your child that has the most manners, spits out a mouthful of food on the table after they thought it was topped with whipped cream, but discovered it was it's distant dairy cousin, sour cream. Its all a wild ride that you feel too tired to wait in line for, but you bought crazy expensive tickets so you are going to be damned if you don't have a good time. I think that's parenthood most days.
I had a really unsettling week. A dear friend, one that I had become close with over the span of the last six years, suddenly passed away. Jenny, was my age, far too young to be gone from this Earth. She was also one of those people that infiltrated your life. We chatted randomly about random things on random days. I carry around a change purse that she and another dear friend gave me for Christmas one year. Its' striped design reminds me of how she could never pass up a good stripe. (Especially if it was navy and came from the GAP.) She was loving and kind and I have battled my emotions all week as I traverse what it will be like without her company. Losing Jenny marks the first tragedy to happen since we moved overseas. I feel so far from my tribe, so useless in the situation and so disconnected from my old life. Zac, has been very conscious of my tedious emotional state. Like a good husband, he has fed me pink gin and tonics, told me "I'm pretty" and given me my space. By Thursday evening, after a spectrum of emotion, I had to get out of the four walls of our flat. I had to put one foot in front of the other and be an attentive member of the family again.
We decide to use our palace membership, (yes I bought one because I am the biggest geek), to see Kensington Palace on Thursday evening. We felt like even if it was a short go-round we could visit again another time, it would at least get us out as a family and hit the reset button in my mind for a bit. Kensington is magical. From the architecture and art pieces, to the incredible heirlooms and historical background of the occupants of the past, I was in a history lover's heaven. There is something so solemn about walking in the rooms where history was made. Sir Issac Newton presented his design for Opticks to Queen Caroline at Kensington. Little Alexandrina, who was born at Kensington, was told just 2 weeks after her 18th birthday that she was to be the new Queen of England. She would be the the longest reigning monarch, the great Queen Victoria. It blows my mind, that I, a girl from the sticks of Louisiana... am standing where rulers were born. Fun extra, the staff at Kensington are delightful and the most knowledgable I have met. They let me try on a tiara, if only in a reflection. I'll take it any way I can get it.
After our short but magical experience at Kensington, our kids begged to go to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. I have honestly, never seen a playground that is so well laid out, with tiny touches of whimsey at the end of every landscaped path. My kids where now in heaven, and I was happy to just walk around and hear them call out my name 1,267 times. Asher, speeds up to me, red puffy face and hair slicked back in sweat. "Mom, I gotta poop." Of course, as soon as we leave the beautiful palace, with clean restrooms, his body is triggered to expound waste. I say, "Asher, do you really have to poop or are you just excited from running around? Can you hold it while I try to find the next restroom?" Side note: due to Covid, many restrooms are not in use. So it is a Code Red now a days when a kid needs to go to the loo. My advice, go when you leave the house, or invest in adult sized diapers. Asher looks at me with a big mischievous smile and says, "No Momma, It's gone now." (Where it went, I don't know.) He then takes off like a shot, laughing and yelling all the way up the rock wall. I am thinking he may have pulled the "poop card" to get our attention over his sisters, who just cant wait to point out every little detail of this playground. Time passes, I overhear him run up to Zac and asks him the same question. Zac gives that look, "Seriously Asher? We just left a place with restrooms, and you just used them! We are heading home soon, is it an emergency? Can you hold it?" He gives no answer and takes off again to ride a wooden carved lamb. I am really stumped. He went to the bathroom about an hour ago. I just don't feel like he could be serious. We continue our exploration of the enchanting park. It houses a pirate ship with a look-out, a set of teepees and outdoor metal musical instruments. While the musical elements are a clever addition, they make me want to curl up like a ball inside the teepees once my kids find their inner Beethoven. We are having a usual, (and authentic), fun family outing. A little laughter and a dash of annoyance.
Then, I hear... "POOOOOOOOOOOP!" It was like someone sounded the alarm on a sinking ship. (I guess he was serious.) Zac and I both scatter to find our kids that have meandered along the ivy cloaked paths between the playgrounds. We race around calling for Asher who we know has to be the culprit, AND the least liked kid in the park at this moment. There he comes, walking like a cowboy from a long ride across the dessert. This park's magic, has apparently turned him into a puppy, and given him a tail. Zac and I look at each other with an "Oh shit, that's got to be shit" look. I whip out my phone to google the nearest restroom while also digging in my backpack for baby wipes as if there is any point now. We find a loo not far, that has a campy vibe to it. It is a little dirty, but we are desperate. I wait outside the men's room like a stalker, handing Zac things and cheering him on. He strips Asher down and extracts his underwear with his tail. He looks at me and I give him the knowing nod, finish them, I'm not packing them to take them home and wash them. He walks them over to the trash can as Asher begins to cry, "Daddy those are my favorite." I look at the faded blue Mickey Mouse undies and tell him it was their time to go. Rest in peace Mikey Mouse undies, you went out in a blaze of glory. Zac washes his shorts in the sink then hands them to me to use the hand dryer in the ladies loo to get them to at least a damp condition. While I am gone, Zac uses hand fulls of toilet paper to clean our son. Because this toilet paper is the cheap kind, it molds into clumps and looks like Zac is using large white erasers to clean Asher. I think it is kind of poetic as I also want to erase this experience as well. I not only feel guilty, I feel icky. Thirty minutes later we emerge from the park bathrooms. I don't look up as we exit for fear of catching another parent's gaze. Yes all... my four year old pooped at Princess Diana's park. It seems a bit symbolic.
Kids throw curve balls. Life throws curve balls. One moment, you are so devastated, working through how the world can be so unfair. The next moment you are laughing at how the most magical experience can literally, go down the toilet, but still be its own brand of fun. Both experiences remind you to be present, both remind you that another moment, good or bad, is coming your way. Life is a desperately delicate, short and unpredictable thing. We should all prepare. I'll pack the baby wipes, spare underwear, gin and most importantly, my grateful heart for our next adventure.
PS. Im sorry Princess Diana, you have a lovely park. We will do better next time.
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