Preschool is over for good, at least for our oldest son. There’s a certain amount of sadness in the air, what with the “gang” splitting up to go their separate ways to different kindergartens. The sadness is not from the kids at all, however. They are blissfully unaware of the hours and hours of play dates it requires to forge real friendships with other parents. The kids are excited for the summer; the parents are dreading it. The kids are happy that they’re not going to wake up early and that there is probably a vacation of some kind waiting for them in the two-month hiatus. The parents are clinging to the past by planning weekly get-togethers for the future. Our good byes to each other are actually thinly veiled pleas: “Don’t forget about me for these next 66 long days!” We realize we might be lying through our teeth as we say “I’m sure we’ll see each other this summer” but we all need some reassurance at this very vulnerable time.
Just in case our boys were in fact feeling melancholy from the finality of it all, Alen and I planned a happy Father’s Day weekend trip to San Diego, obtaining premium tickets to both Sea World (Saturday) and the San Diego Zoo (Sunday). I wanted badly to leave by 2:00pm on Friday, just to try to beat the traffic and keep the trip to two quick hours. Our youngest son’s classmate had a scheduled birthday party (yet another one!) from 11:30am to 1:30pm on the last day of school, but luckily it was at a local park so I still kept up the illusion in my mind that we could be on the road by 2:00pm and into our hotel by 4:00pm. I was all packed by that morning, and I already had the birthday card and gift in hand, but as sometimes happens I forget about the less predictable schedule of my husband. We ended up not leaving until 3:30pm, which paved the way right into rush hour traffic and led to us sputtering into the hotel parking lot by 9:25pm.
All were tired, so the night routine was abridged and sleep arrived quickly. We woke up early Saturday morning, and although neither parent was in any condition to fit in the planned exercise of the day, we managed to quickly get through the all-you-can-eat hotel breakfast buffet and pick up our Quick Tix from the Sea World will-call counter by 9:30am. I love arriving to most events early, and the earlier the better, but I broke into a cold sweat as I realized that we were staring at an approximately twelve hour long adventure with our boys, with no breaks in sight and no other parents to commiserate with. Luckily it all worked out great, thanks in part to a few things that I have jotted down so I can remember for next time.
Actually called Quick Queue at SeaWorld, these tickets elevated our family to celebrity status as we rushed past throngs of hot, tired and envious onlookers as we were escorted directly to the front of the line – no waiting! Highly recommended!
As the boys finished a food product, we were already scouting out their next food product while constantly keeping them hydrated like it was a marathon.
Three changes of clothes
With at least three big soaking rides and attractions (it’s SeaWorld, hello!), having extra clothes in our backpack, including warm clothes for the evening, made this event much less stressful and worrisome.
Frequent bathroom visits
With so many restrooms available at every turn, there was no reason not to visit them as much as possible to let the boys at least attempt to pee. It was one less thing to think about, especially as the day wore on and this became as automatic as Pavlov’s dog.
Dangling a special purchase that will only happen if good behavior is seen
The boys latched onto a SeaWorld sword and a pure white stuffed Beluga whale when we first arrived at the park, so these pawns became invaluable throughout the day. “No good boys, no great toys” became our mantra.
Patience, Fun, Enthusiasm, and Love
We kept in mind that this was their day. We were goofy, smiling fathers who were just grateful to be spending this quality time with their sons. We were loving, and we felt loved. It was the perfect Father’s Day gift. Happy Father’s Day, Papa!