Saturday, December 29, 2007

Shiny Happy Grumpy People

We went to the Brookside Gardens "Garden of Lights" display tonight. This display is basically a bajillion lights put together to make these incredible designs. Designs like that dragon to the left there.

This is the third year we've been aware of this display. The first year we went, we had a great time (except that year the dragon blew smoke and scared the crap out of Sam). We went a few days before Christmas, we drank hot chocolate, we took a pizza picnic; it was a delight.

Last year we planned to go on Christmas Eve. All ten (!) of us that were at my house that year bundled into two cars and headed out with cars full of cameras and excited children. But guess who wants to spend Christmas Eve with their families? The people who work at the Garden of Lights, because they were closed.

We gave up and never made it back that year.

This year we were going to go before Christmas, but just never got around to it. I think it may have rained the day we planned to go. Then we were going to go the day after Christmas with my mom and stepfather. I think it rained that day too. So we were going to bag the whole thing. But then Sam remembered all about it and asked to go. Sam remembered the hot chocolate. Sam remembered that they weren't open the day before Christmas. Sam remembers everything. I've got to do something about that little punk's incredible memory or I'm never going to live anything down.

So we decided to go. I was sure the place would be deserted. After all, what losers go to see a Christmas light show three days after Christmas? Turns out there are a lot of us. The place was packed. It was so packed, in fact, that our car had to wait in line for other people to leave so we could get a parking space. And while we waited, both Quinn and Jack fell asleep.

Grumpy Gus 1 and Grumpy Gus 2 were a little slow to come around to the joy of all the lights, but they did eventually decide the place was pretty cool. I think the giant rainbow of lights with falling rain and flashing-light lightning had something to do with it.

For Quinn, these flowers were also a big mood-booster:

Jack came alive when he got to pretend he was a snowman:

After Jack and Quinn got happy, it was up to Sam, who was originally our happy dude, to turn into our sourpuss. I don't know if it's a developmental thing, human nature, or it's just Sam, but he is in this phase where he's never happy with what's in front of him. Instead, he's always looking to the next thing.

In this case, the half a million tiny lights formed into the shapes of flowers, pigs, and praying mantises wasn't enough for him. He was "bored" and wanted hot chocolate. We took a series of photos of me with the three kids on a bench in which you can see our transition from happy family enjoying the light show to two happy kids, an angry mom, and a devastated child who has been told he's not getting hot chocolate because of his attitude.

If anyone else out there has a six-year-old, it would really help me out if you told me that it's not just Sam who can't see the bird in his hand because of the two in the bush. Even if it's a shiny, sparkly bird made out of Christmas lights.

To his credit, after I had a little talk with him and engaged in some forced joviality, he was able to pull himself around and hit a reset button of some sort that put him back in happy land.

Or so it seemed. I swear to God, that kid goes up and down more than I do, and that's saying something. Happy, sad, angry, dejected, patient, ecstatic, sobbing, tolerable... And that's just in the space of 25 minutes. It takes me at least an hour to go through all those emotions.


  1. "what losers go to see a Christmas light show three days after Christmas? Turns out there are a lot of us."

    You're not kidding! We couldn't believe the line of cars at the the "Winter Lights" Festival at Seneca Creek Park tonight. Poor SB was feeling carsick so we had to stop traffic and turn around a third of the way through the light show. Thankfully when he did throw up he managed to get it all in an emptied out kleenex box instead of all over the car.

    We probably should have done Brookside instead.

  2. Oh I can totally relate to that emotional roller coaster - personally mine is set on one hour too. Perhaps for little ones it goes faster because they have more energy? Yes, that's my theory and I'm stickin' to it. Honestly I wish I had some useful input but we haven't reached six yet, we are still working on the "MINE" phase of year two. Take notes and pass them around, okay?

  3. I don't remember 6 specifically. I do remember soaring happys and plummeting devastations though. Pretty sure it's normal. :)

  4. Bubba is almost 8 and still soars up and crashes down, just like me. Maybe Sam was so focused on the hot chocolate (or what was next) he didn't care about the lights. Kind of like when I was a kid and my parents would get pissed when I wouldn't look at the scenery as we were driving on vacation. To them vacations were a lot about the journey (we drove A LOT), to me it was about the destination (and getting out of the damn car!). And boy was I moody then too.

  5. We were almost there the same night you were, but we had all of our attitude at home before we even left... sigh. I hear it will be there through next week so we will try again. And I'm betting it's pretty typical 6-year-old behavior!

    Thanks for the photos, it really looks pretty cool. (better than Seneca, actually!)

  6. Babe, I had a 14 yr old have a tantrum cause she didn't have enough money to buy a Gameboy, no not a Gameboy, she already has one of those... one of those handheld game things, just after I bought her a game for the Wii ($100) and the day after Christmas when she got a new computer, piano and a Wii!!!!

    It never ends. Not until they have to pay for stuff or organise outings...

    happy new year!

  7. Well, I'm glad to hear that all of y'all with older kids have gone through this. At least it means that Sam is not some sort of weird, unpleasant anomaly. I am less glad to hear that it lasts well into the older years as well.

    And for you local gals, when you're out and about just look for the green Wonder Pets cape. If you see it, come up and say hello! We're bound to run into each other eventually!

  8. Actually I think that you are lucky that he waited until he was 6. My noow 5 year old has been pms since she was about 1 and it is getting worse as she gets older. I am a little worried about how she is going to be when she really pms. I am hoping beyond hope that she is getting it out of her system now and when she is a teenager she will be laid back.......yeah who am I kidding!?


  9. I'm a little embarrassed to comment on a 2-year-old post, but you just saved my daughter's life, so...

    She's 5 1/2, and the moodiness has been making me insane. Now that it appears to be normal, I may not kill her before she reaches age 6. So thanks for that!

    I'll go back to the current posts now.


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