We are most of the way through Spring Break, or March Break as it is known in many parts of Canada because calling it “Spring” is far too cruel. It is definitely March. Can’t argue with a calendar.
On Monday it was sunny, although very cold and windy, so we went to the park and ran around to warm up. It was awfully nice to do this. I did wear just a hoodie and gloves and though I put the hood up from time to time, if I found a nice sheltered spot where the sun was shining, I did not lose feeling in any of my extremities. West Coast, Represent!
On Tuesday I had promised to take the children to the arcade at Metrotown, the Mall that is so legendary I spent twenty minutes talking about it to strangers at a party in Saskatoon, SK! For the record, I was asked about the mall when I said I was from BC. I did not start a conversation about Metrotown.
The arcade was wonderful; the kids each got a bonus 50 tickets from different machines and they cashed in their tickets for dumb little prizes that make them happy while I tweeted about it because what else am I going to do in the arcade? Then we went to Old Navy and bought cheap sweatshirts; Arlo’s in tomato red and Eli’s in neon mandarin orange. The cashier also gave them each a balloon on a stick, so that was us you saw, wandering through Metrotown glowing like balls of fruity sun.
By Tuesday afternoon I realized I was out of ideas and three days remained of Spring Break (don’t get me started on the idea of a two week Spring Break because I will still be ranting about it at this time next year) so I texted some friends to see what they were doing. The first friend who got back to me has two kids the same age as mine, both boys. The older one is Arlo’s oldest friend, dating way back to 2009 and the younger is now in preschool with Eli.
This friend–the mother, not the child–has a much higher threshold than I for chaos. That about sums it up. She also gets lots of coupons for places so if I stick with her I never pay full price, and she thinks nothing of going to a populated area in the middle of Spring Break, whereas I would, if left to my own devices, choose to sit in a dark closet weeping while the children beat on the door. She would prefer to go to a water park, that her children might have fun. Probably everything will be fine, she thinks. Usually it is. She is good for me, this friend.
True to form, “I have two for one coupons for WATERMANIA,” she said. “It’s awesome!”
I looked it up on the Internet and it looked very much like an indoor swimming pool in Richmond. We left our house in the torrential rain and somewhere over the Queensborough Bridge, the sun started shining. By the time we reached WATERMANIA, the sun was completely out and we looked ridiculous in our gumboots and slickers.
WATERMANIA may look, on the Internet, like an indoor swimming pool, but there are key differences: at random intervals, a wave machine is activated and then all the children are tossed about like, well, children in waves. There is also a climbing structure with a slide (in the pool), above which are buckets that are being filled with water and which periodically fill to tipping and then dump on you as you’re walking by, or struggling to stay upright because Where THE FUCK did all the waves come from.
So it’s Spring Break, there are fifty kids of varying ages in the pool, including two of mine who can’t swim, the friend’s kid who can and the other who can’t, and everyone is shrieking, because: mania. There are waves pounding the “shore” ie: me, and buckets dumping water on us and at various intervals these overhead shower things come on, and the water tastes salty, why does it taste salty? My friend informs me that they use a different chemical to purify the water, so the salt is that, instead of chlorine? OK, I will believe that for the length of my visit.
The great thing about minding small boys in swimming pools is THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME; half naked and wet-headed, running around waving pool noodles like light sabers and shouting BANZAIIIII. It’s incredibly hard to keep track of your own spawn and my head was a swivelling, bobble-headed, salt-encrusted ball of confusion. If I don’t see you, have you drowned? Oh there you are. Waves! Shrieking! Buckets of water! Splashing! More waves! Jesus, are we at war? There was a day camp there, a DAY CAMP, with fourteen children and three adult minders whose constitutions must be much stronger than mine.
Thankfully, after just over an hour Eli told me, “this was really fun at first but not any more” so I got him out and shortly thereafter the announcement was made to EVACUATE THE POOL (apparently standard operating procedure during Spring Break–the pool is chlorinated every day at 12:30) so we tripped back outside and blinked at the sunshine and ate Hickory Sticks from the vending machine (just as good as I remembered) and took a nice, relaxing drive home where I sat panting for a good half hour and then ate a giant salad full of meat and potatoes and fried cheese (and lettuce) because stress makes me hungry.
One day of Spring Break remains. Perhaps a trip to IKEA! Or that dark closet is sounding pretty good.