Last night, we went to see Aladdin, the Broadway musical, which was touring in Houston. I don’t do these kinds of evenings out very often because it’s pricey to do dinner and a show with five people. But the kids loved both movie versions of Aladdin, so I splurged on this one family night out.
We waited in the obligatory show backdrop line to have a snapshot taken of our family, moderately cleaned up for the event, and then I posted it on Facebook.
Afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about a conversation with two my dearest friends this week.
We were talking about pride and how our pride trips us up. Well, two of us were discussing how that’s one of our big challenges. The other one, who from all I’ve seen doesn’t have a lick of pridefulness in her, wondered if her Facebook postings seemed prideful to those seeing them. She uses Facebook primarily as her memory book, so she just posts when she does fun stuff with her kids so she’ll have those precious memories documented for years to come. The past couple of years she has had a brutal series of trials, but she doesn’t share those on social media. Only those closest to her have seen the trials. I guess if folks were looking in from Facebook, they’d think ‘look at my awesome life’, she remarked ruefully.
Because of my blog, most folks are aware my life is a roller-coaster of events, good and bad. But I kept thinking about that comment as our smiling faces peered back at me from the screen.
So let me tell you friends, it’s not all magic in that lamp.
To begin with, no one in my family likes to get dressed up but me. Well, little bit will tolerate it, but absolutely not the boys. So just getting ready was a headache. Little bit and I fight about what she wears out because she’s slim and tall, which is of course a lovely life problem, but I CANNOT (for the millionth time) find anything long enough to cover her legs. Her dress was far too short but I got overruled by dad and she wore it out. Yes it’s not really a problem at 9, but if we don’t set hemline guidelines now, I’m never going to win the argument at 15 when it is a problem.
Then the boys, well one in particular, hemmed and hawed about putting on a shirt with a collar. Just forget button downs, I’m trying to get a polo on them. The eldest paired his polo with a long sleeved t-shirt, jeans, and very muddy ranch boots. The baby did better but still he was in shorts and tennis shoes.
We had to get the puppy put in his crate. He is an utter disaster right now y’all. I can’t even start. He ate a hole in our laundry room wall yesterday. And pooped in Bray’s office. Ugh.
Driving downtown in rush hour is no piece of cake, and I drove because otherwise I have so many opinions about short cuts to take through traffic it does a number on our marriage.
I’d planned a nice dinner at the Aquarium so we could park and walk the three blocks to the Hobby Center. Dinner was nice, we had a good view of the giant aquarium and my kids love fish, but I’m a schedule monitor. I should either do dinner or a show but not dinner and a show because I’m constantly watching the clock. I put the kibosh on dessert because I wanted to have plenty of time to find our seats. Of course, in addition to the groans I got, then we arrived before the doors even opened. Seriously.
Then we end up in this giant debate about their 10th birthday party. We’ve started planning it because it’s only a couple months away (good grief, time flies) and it’s the big 10! But the kids would like to have it at the minor league baseball game here in town which is cost prohibitive if you invite the entire grade and their families. (We attend a small school and their grade is about 28 kids, half girls and half boys.) So we talked about inviting a handful of friends with their parents but little bit said she would not have a party without including everyone. (This I love, because I’ve harped on this for years now, but I also live in a world with a budget.)
After that raging debate, little bit got a blister in her shoe from walking and the eldest kept commenting how self-conscious he felt in his wardrobe choice now that he was at the theater. And he didn’t feel great because he’s been in the hot sun at baseball camp and is a little worse for wear in this 100 degree heat.
When we sat down in our seats, I looked at Bray and said, this always seems like a good idea when I plan it, but… He raised his eyebrows and retorted, you always say this.
So why do I do it?
Well, the kids LOVED the show. It started slow but by the end of the first act with the big crescendo of the genie in the cave of wonders, we were all laughing and clapping and captivated. We waited in the long bathroom lines at intermission and paid way too much for gummie bears but the kids were talking over each other at each of their favorite parts. How the genie was just the best genie ever, even funnier than the movie one.
And we worked on manners at dinner. Truth be told, we rarely eat out. Even then, it’s usually Mexican food. So it’s important to teach how to lay your napkin in your lap and use the different forks and wait until appetizer plates come before sticking your grubby hands in the plate of calamari. We had charming dinner conversation, aside from the party, about the fish in the tank and talked about all going offshore fishing later this summer.
Even walking past the homeless prompted conversations which needed to be had and demanded we focus more on helping those in our community who have needs beyond any my kids could ever comprehend.
So I will keep doing it. And it will be messy. And loud, lord is it loud. But they’re about to be 10. As they grow up, I hope they’ll remember the fun shows more than their mother fussing at them to change their shirt or get in the car.
And Stanley, the puppy. Well he had no interest in going to sleep when we got home at 10:30 since he’d been alone for over 5 hours. Yawn, I’m tired. Grateful and tired.