It has recently come to my attention that there’s the possibility that my oldest child has observed a year of her younger brother getting a lot of attention for repeatedly falling into messy chunks, and that she has since concluded that the best way to get love and affection in our family is by behaving badly.
[This conclusion is fueled by a deep need to believe that her recent rottenness is the result of incorrect conclusions rather than an honest-to-God sociopathic streak, and I AM OKAY WITH THAT.]
So over the last month I have been trying very hard to Spend Quality Time With My Daughter, because I love her, and because I’m hoping that doing so will help to curb some of the behaviors that make me want to rip her face off. And part of that strategy has been to essentially “reward” her for being older/more mature than her brother, by taking her to things he doesn’t get to go do.
All of which is preamble to saying that this weekend I took Chickadee to a cocktail party.
But not just any cocktail party, you understand. Oh, no! I took her to the closing cocktail party of BlogHer Food.
Now. I am not a food blogger. I didn’t know most of the people attending BlogHer Food this year, but a few of my favorite people were going to be there, and it was in Atlanta, which is practically my backyard (because don’t you have to drive an hour and a half to your backyard through crazy traffic? SURE YOU DO!), and it was on Saturday, and somehow it just seemed like a great idea.
I bought our tickets online and told Chickadee to go get dressed. She eventually came back downstairs looking like a cross between Blossom and Punky Brewster, which convinced me I was going to have the most fun date of anyone at this party. Obviously. We bid the boys adieu and headed off to The Big City.
You may or may not have gleaned from the years of writing on this site that I am capable of getting lost in my own damn living room. The advent of the GPS unit is really the only reason I can leave my house unattended at this point, so we programmed up the GPS and headed off.
Now, my current GPS actually has traffic updates built in, which is totally confusing to me. Chickadee and I are cruising along, chatting and listening to the radio, and traffic is moving nicely, but every so often the GPS would be all “You are now delayed by traffic conditions by five minutes. You are still on the fastest route.” And we would look around—trying to locate these mysterious “traffic conditions”—and continue on.
Eventually we made it to Atlanta and picked up Liza and all went out to dinner, because Liza was skipping town before the party and I wanted to see her before she left. We went to a Mexican joint and fell face-first into a bowl of queso. It was great fun.
Of all the bloggers I could’ve chosen to bring my daughter to meet, Liza is perhaps the most easygoing and friendly, and so I’d hoped that even my instantly-shy-around-people-she-doesn’t-know kid would open up and chat a little, but alas. She mostly busied herself with tortilla chips, despite Liza’s kind and repeated attempts to draw her out a little. (Pretty much the only thing we could get her to comment on was the apparent deafness of our waiter. No matter what we asked for, he would bring us the opposite. He came and asked if we wanted separate checks, we said sure, he brought us one check. Stuff like that.)
After dinner we dropped off Liza and turned the GPS back on to try to find the party. Do you know what about Atlanta? It has LOTS OF TALL BUILDINGS. And sometimes, when there are many tall buildings, my GPS can’t find the satellites, and it forgets where it is. The display just grays out and suddenly I’m driving… somewhere. And I don’t know which way to go. And I get VERY STRESSED OUT.
My daughter learned LOTS of new words on this trip! Hooray!
Eventually we figured it out, and I parked on the street when I thought we were kind of close, and we started walking, but then it became clear that we were still a number of blocks away and there were plenty of parking spots closer, so we went back to the car and moved it up, and then continued walking. And then we arrived at the party.
I had to go check us in and we were given drink tickets. “I don’t think she needs a drink ticket…?” I said, but we were told we’d need them even for sodas, so we took them. Into the party we went, where there was music and food and my child was immediately struck completely mute.
We had about half an hour of wandering around, eating a little bit, and chatting with a few people I knew. I had prepped Chickie for Denise and Tarrant to fawn all over her, and that’s exactly what happened. She tried very hard to look displeased but it’s hard to do when two grown women are telling you how much they love you. HA. (“I thought you were kidding about me having a fan club,” she said to me later. “I WOULD NOT KID ABOUT THAT,” I assured her.)
So it was all quite lovely. We redeemed our drink tickets for Cokes, because we are WILD WOMEN, and I gave a roving server the stink-eye when she tried to give my 13-year-old daughter a POMTINI—YEAH THANKS, NO, LADY—but in general it was all quite nice.
And then they turned up the music. Prior to that, the music had been pleasant. Once the DJ turned it up, we were pretty much at a rave.
[Sidebar: I do not understand the “It’s not a party until you can’t hear yourself think” mentality. How is it more festive to have hearing loss? What is fun about being with a few hundred people so that you can continually turn to one another and scream, “WHAT?? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”? I didn’t understand this as a kid and I don’t understand it as an adult.]
Chickadee commenced walking around with her fingers in her ears. People cast her sympathetic looks and then gave me the “You’re such a terrible mother” glare. So that was fun. We left the main party area and sat outside for a bit, hoping that maybe after this or that song the music would get turned down again. I tried to get Chickie to dance with me. She died of embarrassment, then came back to life long enough to stick her fingers in her ears again.
We reentered the party room and made several slow circles through the area, trying to find anyone I’d already chatted with to let them know we were leaving, but everyone must’ve been down in the front dancing or outside fleeing from the music, I guess. So we left without saying goodbye to anyone, proving that you can dress me up and take me to the big city, but I am still socially maladjusted once I get there.
What I hadn’t anticipated was the REAL FUN of the evening, which happened on our way home. I fired up the GPS and we wound through the maze of Atlanta one-way and five-laned streets until we—finally!—made it to the highway ramp. This particular ramp is verrrrrry long and windy, but we were in the right place. I knew we were in the right place. For sure. Which was good, because…
… listen, my GPS does a display of a map and a little car. Which is fine. Down at the bottom it tells me things like which lane I should be in and my speed and which way I’m turning next and that sort of thing. But while I was on the on ramp for the highway, suddenly the display changed to… I don’t even know what. A cartoon, kind of? Of a giant highway sign that said ATLANTA, and six lanes of traffic all lit up with FLASHING GREEN ARROWS.
I have never seen my GPS do this before. And it freaked me out.
So naturally, I started yelling at it. “WHAT? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?”
And my daughter—my sweet, shy, retiring daughter—who was up well past her bedtime and had barely said a dozen words all evening, started yelling at ME. “WHAT’S GOING ON? DRIVE THE CAR! EYES ON THE ROAD PLEASE! STOP IT!”
And so it was that we drove about, I don’t know, three hundred yards along some weird overpass while we both dissolved into screaming hysterics.
(Going places with me is FUN!)
Once we hit the actual highway, the display turned back into the map I’m used to. This did not assuage my displeasure. “I DO NOT APPROVE!” I bellowed at my GPS. “I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT WAS BUT I DID NOT AUTHORIZE IT! DON’T DO THAT AGAIN!”
My poor kid. I don’t think she stopped laughing—but in that hysterical “Oh my God we’re all going to DIIIIEEEEE” kind of way—until we were halfway home.
I still have no idea what was going on with the GPS.
I asked Chickadee if she had fun and she said yes. Then she slept until 10:30 the next morning. So I guess it all worked out okay.
P.S. Tomorrow I shall tell you The Saga Of The Fence. It’s possible it involves more curse words than my adventures with the GPS.