I don’t mean there in the destination sense, but rather there time in your life sense. We had been discussing a quick roadtrip to Burlington and I just couldn’t quite get myself to being 100% on board with an overnight excursion with all of us operating on a not-quite-sick-but-close state of being. I felt like a real wet blanket so I suggested taking the girls to see Bee Movie. It was 11:05 and there was an 11:55 showing.
Brilliant, suggestion denial despondence averted!
We bundled up, me looking like the typical mama-pack horse with diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, babies, gum numbing gel and a stash of Pirate’s Booty and fruit chews packed in plastic baggies to avoid the introduction of a type of processed “food” heretofore not exposed to the palates of our asparagus and sharp cheddar cheese loving blue-eyed cherubs. (I know, resistance is futile, but I’m not ready to give in to transfats, high fructose corn syrup, and servings administered by the pound or gallon.)
We pulled into the parking lot behind the theatre at exactly 11:05. Score, we miss the previews and get straight to the movie.
After the girls worked their signature crowd wooing moves on the two cashiers at the ticket counter, we headed into the theatre. Older moms smiled at us, their eyes glazing over as they traveled back in time and remembered with fondness the smell of downy heads and the feel of squishy fingers grabbing at their cheeks. I smiled back and felt a surge of pride and accomplishment. A movie. Wow.
Any of you laughing derisively yet? You should be.
Just past 3 and 17.5 months, clearly, we would learn, not the optimal age for the in theatre movie viewing experience. We found seats in a row by ourselves, though the mothers behind us were so smitten with the girls they might as well have been sitting beside us. My annoying habit of trying to present a serene front in the face of certain toddler adversity reared its formidable head. Damn. I quickly propped Avery in my arms and sank low in the chair to create as little obstruction to the people behind me as possible. Sean sat a seat away with Briar in his lap, their profiles were identical with the exception of his being topped by a gentle buzz and Briar’s with a halo of irresistible flyaways that had escaped her big girl braids.
The screen lit up with the first of what would be a 20 minute cluster of previews for an audience far older than the girls in our laps. Briar appeared to be engaged, Avery was another story. She began fidgeting in my lap, forward, backward, forward, backward. She flirted with the people behind us, then turned and reached for the man in front of us. She clambered toward the seat beside me, grabbed her doll, dropped her doll, squealed for her doll, pulled the hair on the impossibly delicate skin along my neck. Then came the noise, she was talking and squawking and kicking the back of the chair of the already angry head in front of me I felt the first hints of the unbeatable back-arch, the pre-cursor to the stiff-as-a-board and limp-as-a-ragdoll dance I panicked. I also smelled something.
Swell, she pooped. I took the opportunity to dash out and change her diaper. Surely the change of scenery would help her reset. We passed one of the moms we’d seen on the way in, “Must be waiting for a teenager. Poor thing,” I thought to myself. The look on her face was different, and I imagine now that she was thinking, “Must believe a trip to the bathroom is going to fix it. Poor thing.” We went into the bathroom, which, as luck would have it (or not), had no changing tables. I went to put her on the counter, but of course there was not a single area that wasn’t soaked. I looked for paper towels, none. Screw it, I took my arm and wiped the surface down. The rest was easy, of course once I got down to her skin there was no poop to be seen. Her eyes twinkled, gotcha. I chuckled despite my frustration. She giggled back and I thought for a moment we’d be fine.
We got back into the theatre and discreetly slipped into our seats. Sean smiled at us, Briar was too engrossed in the activity on the screen to notice us. I breathed a sigh of relief as Avery’s head pressed against my chest and her fingers toyed with the leg of my jeans. I started to get into the banter between the bees played by Matthew Broderick and Jerry Seinfeld. I ate a few fruit chews and then all hell broke loose, as Avery grabbed a coat from the chair next to us and unleashed a clatter of shoes, keys, wallets and water bottles. I sat up, pulling her to me and offering her at once: a bag of fruit chews, a bag of Pirate’s Booty, her baby doll and my left breast. For the love of god, please just put something in your mouth and stop moving. She took the breast and clearly mistook if for popcorn because after approximately three seconds she bit down with a ferocity that made me gasp, I saw the man flinch and I thought, “You don’t know the half of it, asshole.”
Popping my breast back into my bra, I crammed into my bag as many of the things that had fallen from the chair as I could, kissed Sean and bolted from the theatre.
“Goin’. Goin. A-ree’s goin’.” Avery tittered gleefully.
“Yup, goin’,” I concurred as I blew wisps of hair out my eyes and tried to yank my non-maternity sweatshirt down over my needing-a-maternity-shirt belly.
Walking out of the theatre I actually didn’t feel defeated. I was proud that we had tried, proud that I had acted rather than hissed. As we emerged into the harsh mall lighting I felt a little spring in my step. This wasn’t a failure, it was a shot, and while it missed the mark, it made a memory and on an overcast Saturday I don’t think that’s half bad.