A Festive Holiday Tale (Or, Of Magic Trains and Nazgul)

There are moments in life when I have a slight out-of-body experience.  My brain floats above my body in a bubble and points and laughs maniacally. 

These are usually the times when I’m yelling bizarre parental instructions such as “No! We don’t put carrots up our noses!” or “Don’t hit your brother over the head with a potato masher!”. 

This also happens occasionally when our situation is so way out crazy that there isn’t anything else to do BUT laugh at ourselves … such as our Thursday of last week.

Our intention was to take the Metra downtown to the ChristKindlMarket.  Technically, we completed our intended goal – but oh, how different it looked. 

We made the afternoon train at a run [Sidenote: running while holding a 4 year old and pushing a double stroller = quite the sight to see] and sat down to enjoy the ride.  This being the boys’ first train ride, the anticipation was epic.  Also, the almost daily watching of “The Polar Express” through the month of December led them to believe that trains are synonymous with heaven.  However, there were a few marked differences … Chicago is nothing like the North Pole I  The train car smelled like feet, beer, and exhaust, not like hot chocolate.  Our ex-con look-alike conductor was decidedly NOT Tom Hanks, and there were no golden tickets on which letters and destiny-laden words were punched .. oh well…

Those few disappointments aside … we moved forward with our family fun.

Train ride … check.

Walk through downtown Chicago … check.  [stories of the massive search for Daley Plaza omitted]

Christkindlmarket … check.

And at that point … [sound of wheels falling off the wagon]

Chase decided that he had had enough of the cold and staged a one man sit-in by refusing his bottle, his snack, and also screaming at the top of his lungs.

Gearing up for his rebellion...

Aidan, not to be outdone by a younger (ie: supposedly less intelligent, strong, and decisive) sibling decided to join in the wailing; his goal was only to stay louder and and cry longer than Chase.

At this point, I should mention, the boys have lungs.  Big ones.  Mac truck sized organs loaded into their chest cavities … really.  Having trouble picturing this?  Chase asking for his dinner is a little like listening to the nazgul in the LOTR trilogy.

With the boys screaming beyond placation, threatening, holding, or just about anything else we could think of, we decided to vacate the city.

Leaving Darcy [who was wonderful and good and NOT screaming] with her grandmother and aunt who planned to continue exploring the city, Bob and I [briefly encouraged in the improvement of one-on-one odds with the nazgul … ah, I mean, boys] started out at a brisk walk/run for the station.

A parental trick [as old as the hills] to stop crying is to keep a sobbing baby moving [in a car, on a train, in a stroller … is this sounding like “Green Eggs and Ham” to anyone else?].  While Bob and I are highly aware of this trick and utilize at all possible junctures, our boys never got the memo.  In fact, were totally unaware of their expected response.

Hence, despite a briskly moving stroller, the boys cried … louder

They cried solidly from Daley Plaza all the way back to Union Station.  [Note: this distance was not enhanced for blogging purposes … I will say though, that it was definitely a four-hour walk and it was uphill the whole way.]  This was the out-of-body experience I referenced at the beginning of this post.  What on earth do you do when you’re waiting to cross State Street and every young professional in the crowd is turning up their iPod and glaring at you while mentally giving you the “Worst Parents Ever” award? 

The tears finally stopped in the station [the boys stopped crying too] … but the respite was short lived and happiness on the train was only maintained by Chase and Aidan repeatedly tackling each other on the train seat … the whole way back home [thank the Lord for express trains!].

Breathing incredible sighs of relief and vowing not to take the boys out for at least the next ten years, we finally got them home, at which point we were kindly greeted by a new neighbor who patted me on the shoulder and said “Oh Honey, don’t worry! I had twins too, and it’ll get better!”

 That’s it.  I’m done.

Good Night.

  • Kathy Johnson

    Oh Ellie,
    You just make me laugh and cry! Thank you for sharing your life. And as usual I love to “hear” you talk. Hope you had a Merry Christmas and will have a wonderful New Year!

  • http://fivebares.wordpress.com Leah

    Oh honey…I can totally relate :) Taking the train with a gaggle of little ones is ALWAYS an adventure. Thanks for the laugh (which, of course, I feel more than ok doing seeing as we had quite the similar experience going to see Santa on the train). :)