OK, so after we drove from central Alabama to Cocoa Beach, Florida in one night, we couldn't check into the hotel until after noon. So we stopped at Denny's for breakfast then found our hotel so we wouldn't be lost, went on in the lobby restrooms to freshen up, then headed on over to the Kennedy Space Center.
It didn't open for another two hours, but there was a beach nearby, so what did my husband choose to do? "Let's drive around and see what there is to see."
So we drove back to Cocoa Beach and rode around. His rationale was that the kids would get all wet and sandy if we went to hang out on the beach, but we had been driving since 8pm, and this made the drive time continue to 10am. I was feeling stabby.
Then we went to the space center. I thought it would be terrible since no one had slept, but it was actually pretty awesome. My husband can be a real butt nugget when he's tired (I may have pointed this out while planning the trip), so he worked hard to be nice even though he was exhausted. Thank God! We saw all the exhibits and a 3D movie made from Hubble images - that was really cool - and the kids had a great time... although they fell asleep during the bus tour of the launch pads. We got to hear a 4-mission astronaut talking about how to take a dump in space ("Gravity doesn't work, so there is no separation. You get a glove to aid in that.") and how Coke syrup separates from the carbonated water to make a weird separated floating liquid glob that you just jab your straw into as it floats by(even though Coke wasn't allowed on the shuttle - they snuck the McDonald's cup in inside a jacket) and other various quirks about being in the shuttle.
All in all, I'd say that was my favorite day of the whole trip. Partially because there was no drama, but mostly because I'm a dork and the space stuff is fascinating to me. The only way it could have been better was if they'd had some sort of homage to space sci-fi, specifically to "Firefly." Really, I couldn't give two farts about any other sci-fi show (I know, I know! That totally kills my dork street cred!), but the 7-foot Lego model of the Serenity is pretty dang awesome. I need a Captain Mal minifigure. But I digress.
The Saturn V rocket is unbelievably huge, and just, it's just too rad to describe. All the computers of the entire space program combined had less capability than my laptop, and they put men on the moon using slide rules and tin foil. That's crazy brilliant. And the Mars stuff they've got in the works now? GAH! Too cool.
Finally, all worn out and ready for bed, we headed back to the hotel to decide on where to eat dinner. And that was when it started going down hill.
My husband parked and decided to go get us a cart for the luggage. Unbeknownst to me, he sat the van keys on the console. I was looking for something & didn't notice. Aaannnnnd I sat something on top of the keys. We got the cart, unloaded the luggage, then allowed the kids out of the van. Shockingly, they were behaving like angels up until that point. But the luggage cart looked too much like monkey bars for the sleep-deprived and hungry little things, so they started to get wild. But I calmed them down pretty quickly and herded them inside.
We got to the rooms, divided up who would take which room, then were ready to go eat. But the husband not only left the keys on the console, he also locked the van.
He tried to find them, but they couldn't be seen through the window, so we searched all over, hoping they'd been dropped. My MIL kept letting the kids into her room, where, being five years old, sleep-deprived, and starving, they jumped on the bed.
I mean, come on! What kid doesn't jump on the bed when they get to a hotel room?
She didn't say anything to them. She never says anything to the kids, just lets them behave like banshees on acid then gets mad because they misbehaved. I walked in the room and started to speak, and she yelled, "You're just going to let them jump on the bed like that!?" At this point, I haven't even registered that they were jumping, because they had just Supermanned from one bed to the other and landed in a belly flop, so it looked like they were laying down when I came in.
I ordered pizza to be delivered to the room, and my mother-in-law yelled at me. See, it was all my fault that the keys were locked in the van. Not my husband's for putting them down or for locking the van. But because the kids climbed on the luggage cart and distracted him, and if I wasn't such a bad mother, I would have had controlled them. (Even though the luggage cart jungle gym thing was after he'd locked up the van.)
(No punching old ladies. No punching old ladies. No punching old ladies.)
With the biggest fake smile I could muster, I said, "Well, it is after 9:00 at night, the pizza I ordered won't be here until almost 10, they've been awake for 24 of the last 26 hours, and they're little bitty kids."
Oh. My. Gosh. I deserve a medal. Because she said, "Well, I haven't slept either, and I'm old! And you saying that is just making excuses for them, and they'll never grow up to be anything if you keep making excuses for them!"
I gritted my teeth and left the room. She went back to her room, where my 14 year old stepson "G" would be sleeping in the other bed. She told him to come with her. But then she didn't watch him. (Remember, he's autistic, severely ADHD, and refused to sleep the night before on purpose.) So he left her room and hung over the balcony rail - fifth floor - to yell and wave at random strangers.
So a random stranger came up and yelled at my mother-in-law for letting him.
So my husband comes up after the locksmith has opened the van, and she yells at him because his special needs, sleep deprived, starving kid acted irresponsibly. (As if her letting him out of the room wasn't irresponsible.)
The pizza arrived, and I told my husband to tell his mom she could have some (I couldn't be cordial to her just then, as I was feeling very stabby), but she yelled that she was just going to have some water and slammed the door in his face.
So we ate, got the kids settled for bed, let G's sleep meds kick in, and let him into the MIL's room to sleep, and then we all finally crashed.
The next morning, as we got ready, my MIL came in, sounding apologetic. "I wasn't trying to hurt your feelings with what I said last night. I don't want to make you mad... but... if you did a better job of controlling those kids, none of that would have happened last night. That's why nobody likes them. That's why I don't ever invite them over to my house."
Why, F you very much for that almost-apology. I thought you just didn't invite them over because you have all those porcelain dolls on the floor at kid-level (cheap ones, mostly from the Dollar Tree) but you don't want the kids to play with them; but you'll invite G over because you can put him in the garage with some Tonka trucks and let him do whatever he wants. Like that time he'd almost passed out from heat exhaustion because you locked him out and forgot, and he didn't know how to open the garage door, but it was July, and he'd been banging on the door to be let back in for twenty minutes by the time I got there, but you're deaf and went to sleep. So now, if he comes over, you just stick him in from of the TV since he's afraid to go outside again, and you have the Military Channel, so he's happy. And you think you're being a good grandma. Yeah. You're friggin awesome. And you wonder why he never gets to come visit anymore. Frackin nutjob. And, FYI, everybody loves my little ones, because they are hilarious and beautiful and smart and generally well-behaved. But how many people came to the last party you had? You invited 80, and three showed up. No joke. Nobody likes you. But I'm still tired and maybe I'm being petty.
I turned around and walked away again instead of answering her out loud.
I really hoped the rest of the trip wouldn't go like this. Thankfully, that was the low point. For me, anyway. I wasn't present for her major melt down a few days later. That was special for her son, and was rolled up in far more insanity than this little exhaustion-induced tantrum.
But cool things happened before I get to that lovely event.... (To be continued.)