Gwen’s preschool had a field trip today to a place called Ferry Beach. We were surprisingly kind of organized for an outing scheduled at nine o’clock in the morning. I’d packed up the beach toys, towels, a change of clothes for each girl, bug spray, sunblock, yadda yadda… it was all good, except that the woman who can drive around Manhattan with no real issues – the same woman who figured out that crazy maze of streets in downtown Boston, couldn’t find her way to a state park in southern Maine. In case you wondered, I’m talking about me.
In my defense, Mapquest told me where to go “at the second roundabout.” Well, the second roundabout never materialized and, thanks to the fact that Grandma and I were yapping away in the front seat, we missed the road that we were supposed to turn onto at the roundabout that doesn’t exist. Fast forward 20 minutes and we rolled into some town I’d never heard of. We were nowhere near a beach though, we did happen to pass a sign for Lake Bunganut which resulted in a thoroughly immature series of fictitiously named lakes such as, Lake Bunghole…home of Camp Dingleberry, etc.
We turned around and made our way back toward that invisible roundabout but since we were now thirty minutes late for the state park and not really feeling it anymore, I came up with another plan. The morning’s thick fog was still burning off and Kate was passed out in her car seat after a few minutes of intense finger sucking. I looked in the rearview mirror and watched my little Gwennie’s sullen face. It was clear that I’d disappointed her with my failure to find the roundabout. I saw that she was trying to maintain a strong front, but her little mouth always reveals her true emotion. Her lips had settled into a straight line, erasing that happy upward curve that they normally wear. She met my gaze and, for my benefit, feigned a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. Suddenly, I was the world’s worst mother.
Hey Cookie, why don’t we have a special day out?
Why don’t we go take a ride on that train you’ve been looking at in the mall?
Personally, I don’t get the attraction but she’s been begging for weeks.
On our way back toward the Maine Mall, we spotted a place I’ve been wanting to explore. It’s full of architectural salvage and, frankly, resembles a glorified junkyard. Grandma and I were intrigued. Gwen was intrigued. We banged a Uie and hit that glorified junkyard hard. Have you ever watched American Pickers? It was kind of like that. We picked and rummaged and explored and Gwen was into it. Really. She found a giant life-sized Bugs Bunny, a decapitated mannequin head, two vintage gumball machines, a fantastic chair and a soapstone sink.
Right about now you’re probably thinking, what a terrible mother! She missed the field trip and brought the kid to a junk yard? Yeah. I did.
I also drove her to Snip-It’s, the Disney World of children’s hair salons (in case you didn’t know), where three inches were trimmed from her long hair as she watched cartoons, blew bubbles and snarfed down copious amounts of Dum-Dum Pops.
Then we went for a ride around the mall on a motorized choo-choo train. That’s right. I drove to the Maine Mall and hunted down a parking space for the sole purpose of walking inside to pay $6 for a ride down the main corridor of the mall. Like a giant goofball I stuffed myself into a bright yellow train car and was pulled around the mall with Gwen and her beaming smile. Teenage girls laughed at me but I didn’t care. Cookie sat on the seat across from me and, with our our knees touching, she held my hand. She told me that I was the best mommy in the world and, with that declaration, she bought herself a pre-lunch Boston Cream donut followed by an afternoon in the sprinkler. Because that’s where the invisible roundabout took us.