We first went to Legoland in Oceanside, California when my second son, Frederick, was born. It was my first outing in 40 days, and my older son, Miles, was almost 3. I was in a peasant skirt, Converse hightops, and my pajama top. Literally: I was in my pajama top, since I nursed pretty much round the clock for the first months, and I had barely been in real clothes since Fred was born anyway, so why make an exception for Legoland?
I mostly sat on benches in a hormonal daze and nursed while trying to not draw attention to myself since I was crying out in pain (nursing my sons for the first several months of their lives elicited that for this lucky mama). Miles and my husband had a blast going on all of the amazing 3-year-old-friendly rides. Fred screamed the entire two hour ride home, simply because he could. I almost lost my mind and vowed never to leave the house ever again.
Cut to almost three years later. Yes, I have left the house, and yes, Fred has stopped screaming in the car for no apparent reason. Now he screams in the car because–don’t you know it?–he is “DONE DONE DONE” with the car “NOW NOW NOW.”
We ventured to Legoland again last week; Fred is the age Miles was when we first went, and Miles is almost 6 and super pumped about both LEGO and spending the day with his 6-year-old friend who was there with his family to celebrate his birthday. Yeah: this family we are friends with bought a 5-day pass, stayed at a hotel inches from the entrance, and really lived it up. Way to make us look like the loser parents, guys.
But it was honestly really great. Miles had an even better time this trip because a) he is, as I mentioned previously, super pumped about LEGO; b) he loves rides and now can ride even more of them since he is taller and older and less cautious; and c) he loves to strut around with his buddy and his buddy’s older brother like they own the joint. And that they did.
Now, this may seem like a pretty unexciting blog. Legoland? Good time? Happy kids? Big deal. People do it all the time, right? Well, I’m not most people. Here’s why this was a big deal.
Number one: I am cheap. Okay, you can call it frugal, but that’s just linguistic masturbation. I am cheap as dirt. I hate spending money, I hate wasting money, and I am not even ashamed to pick up pennies off the street. My grandparents were immigrants who worked in sweatshops and lived with my mom and her two sisters in an apartment the size of a closet along with their grandfather who had active tuberculosis and spent his waking hours in their bathroom so they had to pee… not in the bathroom.
I vowed not to listen to the amount the nice lady behind the Legoland glass fortress demanded from my husband upon entry, but that vow dissolved so quickly as I craned my neck to hear her pronounce the three numbers we owed: three digits! And that was with Fred free because he’s not yet 3!
After that brief episode of annoyance and disbelief, the money thing became less painful for me, since my husband and I pride ourselves on not buying souvenirs when we go places like this. Our boys are totally fine with this arrangement; we simply explain to them that “Today is not a buying day because we spent our money on coming here.” Period. End of story. Works for us, works for them.
The second reason why I think that I deserve some sort of award for braving Legoland is that I hate crowds. And that’s not just because I am recognizable and I tend to not look my best on long, hot, sweaty days in amusement parks when I am taking tons of pictures of the Star Wars LEGO exhibits while giggling and cooing at the tiny spaceships like a lovesick teenager, carrying a screaming Fred from the fireman stage show because the excited theatrics scared the bejeesus out of him. I hate crowds because I don’t like to feel stuck. I don’t like limited freedom of movement, and my husband likes to point out not entirely wrongly that I have studied the Holocaust extensively enough that crowds are unpleasant and reminiscent of people being forced to walk places they don’t want to walk.
It turned out to be not too crowded of a day, though, and I managed the crowd thing pretty well. I didn’t get recognized a lot, and that was also nice, since my sons have no clue what it is that makes so many people come up to their mama. They think I am only good for giving them money to buy tokens, getting them food, water, or milky, or taking them to go pee.
The third and final reason why I feel like I conquered something great by going to Legoland is that I hate people. Well, perhaps that’s overstating it. But I will admit that I am a bit of a Scrooge in general, and when it comes to how people treat their kids, I get very grumpy. I can’t handle people hitting their kids, or screaming at their kids for simply being kids, or making bizarre insincere threats of consequences that don’t match behaviors, or–my personal favorite–allowing their child/toddler/baby to scream bloody murder for wanting to be held without doing anything to remedy the situation. Note to parents of those kids: Fred is in the process of weaning, so it won’t be much longer that I will offer to nurse your screaming child/toddler/baby. Keep that in mind and don’t fear the milky.
We stayed 9 hours at Legoland. I realized that having a little one under the age of 3 still puts you in that hyper-vigilant mode when you go places like this: what if he has a peepee miss in line for a ride? What if he has a poop miss?! What if he doesn’t understand that the pizza they sell is not vegan and he has a fit about it?
Well, none of that happened. No one had a meltdown. No one cried. No one protested when we told them it was time to leave. And within 5 minutes of hitting the freeway, they were both sound asleep for the two hour ride home. If there was a way to have made myself a martini and given myself the Nobel Prize right then and there, I would have. I am such an imperfect person and parent, and as a cheap, hermit-like, misanthropic person, Legoland was about the biggest test I have been given in recent years. And I think I passed.
When will the next test of this kind come along? I don’t know; after how well this Legoland trip went, I can totally see doing Legoland as a Bar Mitzvah gift to my boys. Mazel tov!