A Trip to the Zoo

5.21.07: Otherwise known as a family visit


My entire family has descended on "Mimi's" house for a Memorial Day weekend of milestones: We're celebrating a 60th birthday, a 38th birthday, two 3-year birthdays, 2 one-year birthdays, and a Christening.

It's a lot. We don't get to visit often, so we're cramming a ton into one weekend, which is both stressful and fun. Getting here was chaotic, from packing everything we'd need, to braving Boston's Memorial Day weekend traffic, to getting through airport security and a plane ride with two kids. But, the chaos of all that travel is no match for the chaos of actually being here.

Five years ago, these family visits were pretty quiet and uneventful. Then, the short people arrived. Between nieces and nephews and cousins and friends and neighbors, there can be ten or fifteen of the under-five set underfoot at any given time, and things have taken a decidedly louder turn. Our visits are suddenly kid-centric. We had planned a big birthday party at the zoo for the kids until the weather put a damper on things. As it turns out, there really was no need to go to the zoo. Because, well, this is a zoo.

If this weekend were a movie, I would call it Animal House. Or, maybe Daycare Gone Wild. Things are so out of control. At any given time, someone is pulling off her clothes and running around naked. Someone else is sticking peas up her nose or slurping ketchup off of a plate in the kitchen. Someone is chasing the dog around the house in order to pull his ears while another is sitting under the kitchen table gnawing on the dog's chew toys. There is usually someone screaming. There is usually someone mysteriously missing. A baby is lying on a blanket on the floor, getting stepped on. Another is jumping in the Jumperoo, squealing at the top of his lungs. Kids are falling all over each other inside a zipped-up tent in the middle of the living room. From the outside, you can sometimes make out what looks like the shape of a human head poking up against the nylon roof, but I'm pretty sure it'’s actually a pack of wild hyenas thumping around inside. The banging of toy pots and pans is ringing in my ears. There was a tug-of-war over a necklace which resulted in dozens of plastic beads spilling out onto the floor and into the hands of teething babies who would love nothing more than to mouth those perfectly round chokey beads. A little girl is clomp clomp clomping around the house in a diaper and plastic high heels. Another is speaking to the dog in what we can only assume is Mandarin Chinese. Mothers are getting snacks and meals, cleaning up dishes, wiping down kids and high chairs, and playing ring-around-the-rosy. Fathers are balancing babies in one hand and beers in the other, passing out cigars and trying to hatch a plan to escape to the nineteenth hole. Someone is stringing beads over my head and climbing up my back as I sit on the floor and type. One child has been sent to the "pen" after a poop-smearing incident, and is now peering out from behind its four walls like a caged monkey.

What a zoo. It is chaotic and crazy and hilarious and frustrating and deafening and maddening and frantic and fun. As families can be.

I'm sure Mimi will be sad to see everyone go. And, maybe, just maybe, a little bit relieved.

Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.

Read the next entry: 5.28.07: The Other Shoe