It’s post-holiday season so I pull out my over-sized wall calendar and start populating the activities within the first month of a new year. First, a few birthdays..appointments…and gulp–coming right up, the dreaded “sleepover” with my daughter’s girl scout troop at the Aquarium that I got an email about months ago…
A “sleepover” at the Aquarium you ask? Yes, that’s right. A “sleepover” at the aquarium.
Why the quotations you ask? Because this really is the misnomer of all time, there is no sleep at this.
I scribble it onto the calendar (in pencil), now it is real. The dread begins to set in though it is 5 days away.
First, my thoughts gear towards blame when I think about the parents who originally conceived of such events? Not our troop leader! She’s a Saint, as are all troop leaders, and I’m pretty sure she was also equally dreading the “sleepover.” These wacky events have been going on for years at a host of museums, zoos, etc. The kids start talking about it amongst themselves and suddenly it becomes a “my parents never took me to Disneyland” type of phenomenon, and in some kind of weak moment a parent acquiesces to such an idea. WHY????
Next, I try to think about how I can get out of it. I get pretty creative with my excuses. Will I disappoint my daughter for life?(who of course, knows. see the above chatter amongst the kids, that practically becomes (sub)urban legend) Probably.
Then my dear friend/neighbor asks me to chaperone her daughter, also in our troop, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend because she is in Africa, helping to build schools. Truly. Talk about an excuse, geeesh! You owe me L.T.
I am officially on the hook.
I start projecting my worry to my husband, who is surprised by my level of apprehension. He’s accompanied our daughter’s on many a camp-out through Dad/Daughter events where cards are played late into the night in their cabins (with proper bunks/beds, I may add!) along with their flasks of hooch and icy coolers of beer to cope with the daddy snores throughout the night. I assure him, there will be no such adult entertainment at the aquarium, there is a strict–no booze rule.
I better start my pre “sleepover” training. I try to grab a few extra minutes of zzzs where I can, I start googling native marine life to our area (just kidding, I didn’t really do this). I try to really savor that nip of wine at night, I dream about which spa i may go to after this is all over. I get my “sleepover” aquarium game face on.
I carefully read the instructions and packing suggestions on the permission slip. Yup, we are sleeping on the floor. The floor where hundreds, probably thousands of aquarium visitors walk daily.
There is some fine print…oh thank heavens, we can bring an air mattress. I give thanks to the Gods at Amazon Prime and the heavy plastic cushion of sleep arrives in the nick.
It’s game day, we are packed. My daughter and her friend are psyched. We drive, we park, I become a pack mule with sleeping bags, blankets, flash light, beer (again, kidding–but I did really wish) as we tote our gear into the aquarium.
We are to sleep in the “otter room” though there are no otters, as the exhibit is under construction (wonder where the otters went?)–still the room is kinda smelly. There are turtles and eels (gross ones I may add) in loud bubbling tanks and a display of light houses with operating strobe type lights. A perfect sleeping environment!
Another troop gets assigned to the shark room, I better not complain. Can you imagine? I’ve seen Jaws too many times people. I begin to wonder about those poor otters…?
The night’s activities commence. The girls craft, tour, run around in their pajamas–blissfully unaware of how dirty everything probably is, just aware that they are the only ones in the aquarium. They are delighted. The moms exchange half smiles with each other and I secretly wonder how much Ambien is stashed in their bags?
Milk & cookies are served around 10:30 p.m. and you can tell the kids think this is the. best. night. ever. Wine and cheese would have been a nice touch. I am just sayin’.
It’s time to set up our “beds.” The jockeying of positioning for mom’s and daughter’s sleep area commences, the mattress inflation is a frenzy. And yup, we end up right under the turtle tank. I shouldn’t complain too much, another mom is next to us on the floor. She didn’t read the fine print, I guess. Sucka, I actually really did feel bad for her.
We brush our teeth…in the public restrooms. The men’s rooms were also open for the night as no men were there. The girl’s thought this was rather thrilling.
They make an announcement over the loud speaker, it’s 11:30 p.m. and lights out in 5 minutes. They say “the sea life needs their rest.” Ha.
But that’s the thing, we are in the lighthouse room, so the lights never really go out. Maybe that’s what happened with the otters, insane sleep deprivation due to the lighthouse exhibit?
The kids have no intention of sleeping. They run around the room like little aquarium nymphs.
It’s 1:00 a.m. now–I make several threats to my daughter involving leaving if she does not sleep. (She loves telling our family/friends this after the fact, l.o.l., and I can’t deny it.)
My head is wrapped with my puffy coat over my eyes/ears for a turban type of effect to drown out the turtle bubbler/lighthouses.
It’s 2 a.m. That bubbler really makes me feel like I have to pee. I don’t want to get up, we are on the 2nd floor and have to take an elevator down to the public restrooms. Plus, the aquarium nymphs, a.k.a, our daughters, seem to finally have settled down.
It’s 7 a.m. There is an announcement over the loud speaker that it is “wake up” time. I wonder if I slept at all? Don’t think so. It was kind of like one of those airplane naps, where you felt like you slept for 5 minutes and were really just super aware that you are trying to sleep on a plane. I was just really aware that I was sleeping next to eels.
Time to pack our stuff up so the aquarium can get ready for the next day of ticket buyers who will soon be coming through. We are all zombies and like the plane, felt as though we had just landed from the “red eye.”
We quickly eat breakfast and watch the seals eat theirs.
It’s over, we/I survived. I am amazed I do not get a speeding ticket on the way to Dunkin Donuts.
My daughter got a badge. I think I should get one too!
I’m afraid to peek at the calendar for February…
Disclaimer: Writing this post absolves me of any future invitations of kiddy campouts.