It seems like whenever we decide to fork over the money for an annual pass to an event or attraction, things crash and burn. Exhibit A: the Springs Preserve. Perhaps things would have been different on that ill-fated spring day and Scotty wouldn't have smeared sand on me and I wouldn't have fallen on my naked bum had I not bought the annual pass, but we'll never know, will we? Because just as soon as I've paid for a year membership, it seems as though things go terribly wrong with the Bear and I have zero desire to return to the scene of the crime.
Exhibit B: Shark Reef. As you may recall, we loved Shark Reef the first time. I was all, "Jacques Cousteau Bear" and stuff. I also paid $18 for a one-time visit whereas an annual pass costs only $40. So with the chance we might visit again even two more times, it makes sense to buy the pass. I'm being cost-effective, right?
Well, I was until Tuesday afternoon.
Because that's when it all crashed and burned.
Trying to make a nice day, we left directly after Scotty's long nap (three hours! boom!) He was in a great mood, I was in a great mood and we even called Brian and convinced him to join us at Burger Bar for dinner. They have a Nutella milkshake on the menu I'm dying to try and maybe this would be my chance to meet Chef Keller. A girl can dream, right?
I should have known it was a bad sign when we arrived and the lizard was sleeping. The giant Komodo dragon was a hit the first time, with Scotty and the lizard speaking Parseltongue to each other for a solid fifteen minutes. This time, however, that lizard was done. "Night night," Scotty said, pointing to the giant lizard. "Yes," I told him, looking at my watch, wondering how we were going to kill 90 minutes before dinner while the lizard slept. "He's night night. Maybe we can wake him up?"
Nothing. That lizard was not about to be roused. Scotty, bored, trotted off to the next window.
I tried to stall at each exhibit to buy time. I mean, the last time we were there, I had to drag Scotty from window to window. Now, he was practically jogging. He also insisted on pushing the stroller, which I was fine with, as it kept him occupied.
We reached the underground part of the Reef just as my watch read 4:32pm. Okay, only 58 minutes before Brian would be joining us. (god help the man if he's late.) "Look, Scotty!" I said excitedly. "Lion fish!"
Scotty glanced at me, but was having too much fun with the stroller. He was careening all over the place, mainly because he couldn't see over the top. This resulted in a lot of crashing into the walls and the sting ray pool. I was trying to keep my voice even as I directed him to come by me, but he could have cared less about the fish. This stroller game was fun.
I finally walked over just as he was about to hit this nice couple who were clearly tourists. They were wearing visors on, fanny packs, and questionable shorts. And were directly in the path of Destructo-Stroller-Bear. My hand shot out and grabbed the stroller before it hit them and I sighed heavily.
Scotty immediately reacted. His little hand shot out in response and smacked mine. "No!" he shouted. "No no no!"
I raised my eyebrows. Did he just say..no?
See, we've managed to get through 21 months of life without the inclusion of the word no. I am fairly proud of this accomplishment, as every mother I've spoken to has mentioned the use of the word "no" is almost immediately followed by a raging case of the Terrible Two's (regardless of age.) So to me, it wasn't just him being obstinate; it was the recognition that the Golden Days were about to end. Quickly.
And then, as my head was spinning with such thoughts, he smacked me again. "Mine," he declared.
"Where did you learn that word?" I demanded, getting to his level. "Who taught you that? How did you learn that?"
"No!" he screamed. "Mine!" He flailed his arms in an attempt to get away.
And with that, he broke free, with the stroller, for the jellyfish tank.
There were about ten people in the way and they all managed to jump out of his path of destruction. He did hit an older gentleman, who promptly shot me a dirty look while everyone else simply avoided eye contact.
I was irate at this point. "DONE!" I roared. "DONE! YOU ARE DONE!"
Scotty glared at me. "Mine! Mine! Mine!" He sounded like the seagulls from Finding Nemo. He hit my hand again. "NOOOOOOOO!"
I scooped him up, screaming and all, and buckled him in the stroller. Chubby toddler legs shot out at my face but I ducked. He was throwing himself around so much the stroller was swaying. Speaking softly, I got his eye level and said, "You. Are. Done. No Burger Bar for you, no more Shark Reef. We. Are. Done."
As we walked out of the Reef, everyone gave me "the Look." Again. Part of me was dying of embarassment, and the other part was like, "Wanna switch places? I dare you to do this any better."
And the kid howled all the way through the Convention Center, past the restaurants, and into the parking garage. He was still shrieking by the time we got into the elevator. The three other people in the elevator with us refused to make eye contact with me. It might have been because of my child, but it's probably because I was absolutely simmering. I think waves of anger were literally vibrating off of me.
He was finally quiet by the time we reached the car. As I buckled the now-silent Bear in his car seat, I pulled out the big guns. "I am very disappointed in you," I told Scotty, making eye contact. "Your behavior was unacceptable. Now we have to go home. Mommy is very disappointed in you."
I have no idea if he got it, but it made me feel better. Ah, Mother guilt.
So we called Brian on the way home and told him the Nutella milkshakes were off the table. Scotty was 100% compliant for the rest of the night, but there was also no stroller to push into stuff. Or people to run over, or mothers to smack. I stayed a safe distance away.
That was our afternoon at Shark Reef. I guess if you were are a "glass-half-full" kind of person, you'd say we now have an annual pass to go back and redo the afternoon and make it better. But if you're a "glass-half-empty" kind of person, like me, you now get to experience more afternoons of misery in the company of jellyfish. At least for the next year.