I don't know about the rest of the parents that were there, but for me the FOB was physically and emotionally draining.
The day started with the long walk from Gayley and Wilshire in Westwood (where Marylou's husband Steve works) to the UCLA campus.
We were planning on taking the bus, but since Steve said he could get free parking at his building we decided just to follow Marylou and her gang and avoid the $8 parking fee.
While Steve was validating our parking ticket in his office, he also grabbed a bunch of free sodas and juices for us to drink, which was very thoughtful and kind, but at the same time I could've killed him for it because of course Owen and Stewart started begging for drinks, and it wasn't long before Stewart had orange juice spilled all over his shirt.
He whined and screamed until I finally took off the wet shirt and put on his jacket. Underneath he was shirtless, but I swear it wasn't as white trash as it sounds- I zipped it up and everything.
Then he sat back down and promptly repeated the orange juice spill. Screams of devastation followed.
We weren't even halfway to campus yet and we were off to a rarin' start.
When at last we arrived on campus, we took advantage of the first pit stop available. Owen stood up to go peepee and dumped his soda all over the ground. I had just about had it with the damn drinks by then, so I threw it in the trash can, prompting hurt tears from my more sensitive son, who, in all fairness, had done pretty well with the soda up to that point.
I had to soothe his feelings by promising to buy him a new one with a lid that wouldn't spill.
Fortunately, we found one soon enough, at the top of a flight of approximately 1,000 stairs. I swear, you'd think we were at a Mayan temple rather than a college campus. The wheelchair ramp, which we also discovered, resembled a maze of ramps and stairs, and taking it was nearly as complex as the stairs, if not more so, because we kept having to get the kids in and out of the strollers- in the stroller for a stretch of ramp- back out for a flight of 3 stairs.
Considering the difficulty we had with a stroller, I don't know HOW anyone with a physical disability could navigate UCLA's campus!
And whose idea was it to put the Target Children's Stage and all the other kids booths and activities at the top of a gigantic flight of stairs when 90 percent of the patrons who visit those booths are going to be pushing strollers?
Sigh. So we finally got to the apex of the FOB where we purchased sodas with lids to satiate the kiddies and rushed to the Children's Stage just in time to catch HENRY WINKLER!!!!
I have no idea what he was reading- I was merely there for the money shot:
After Henry, we worked our way back through the throngs to the food stand where we'd bought the sodas and grabbed lunch. Owen wanted a burger and Stewart wanted a hot dog, so I stood in line with them and ordered myself a disgusting hot dog that I didn't even want just to make life easier.
I asked Kyle what he wanted. "Um... I'm going to get something else..." he mumbled. I gritted my teeth. Well if I had KNOWN we were going to mess around with TWO different food booths and TWO different lines, I would have gotten that chicken teriyaki bowl I'd actually wanted.
Balancing two hot dogs, a hamburger, and two sodas, not to mention two strollers and two kids, Kyle and I wove our way down to the "big hill" for lunch.
I sat down on the grass to ingest my unappealing hot dog. Kyle ran off to get his own food. The kids jumped up and down and rolled around on the grass.
"You guys, EAT!" I kept encouraging them, mindful of the $15 it had cost to buy the hot dogs and hamburger they were now studiously ignoring.
Kyle came back with a steaming hot chicken teriyaki bowl. "Jerk," I told him.
"What?" he asked innocently.
I shook my head.
After lunch, which the boys barely touched, they ran around on the hill for a while. Stewart nearly had a screaming breakdown when it was time to stop, and at that point I knew we should just go home.
Still, I didn't walk all the way up those stairs for a lousy hotdog. I wanted to see what other booths were there.
So Kyle and I pushed it a little further, heading to the L.A. Times kids area where there were some nice crafts set up for the kids.
The boys did have fun coloring their own book and decorating an L.A. Times birthday cake, but it was hardly worth all the effort it took to get from the craft area back to the impossibly long flight of stairs- it was now nearly 1:00 and the place was packed.
Owen requested Kettle Korn, and since I thought it might simplify the walk back to the car if they had a snack, I acquiesced and sent Kyle to the Kettle Korn booth.
"You want some?" he asked.
I told him my stomache still hurt from the hot dog.
"I feel good. That teriyaki bowl was just the right size. I actually think it was the perfect lunch."
The Kettle Korn bag sparked an instant debate as to who would have the honor of holding it. As Stewart was on the edge of a nervous breakdown by this point, I was inclined to side with him.
Owen sulked all the way down the stairs.
When at last we reached the bottom, Stewart started crying because his "pee-pee hurt." We rushed to find a bathroom and because we were in a hurry, we instantly encountered two sets of friends whose presence required us to stop looking for a bathroom and make polite chit-chat.
The chit-chat was cut off when Stewart wailed, "I need to go pee-pee!"
We apologized and rushed off, saw a restroom sign, and followed it to where six women were waiting to use two bathroom stalls.
Kyle was outside guarding the strollers, so I couldn't send poor Stewie into the men's room with him. I just had to wait it out, and poor little Stewie kept inquiring pathetically whether "this was the bathroom?" and whether we were "next," and punctuating it all with "Mommy, I need to go pee-pee."
And do you know that not even ONE of those women offered to let him go first? Bad form, ladies, bad form. I mean, I don't expect special treatment for myself, even though I am pregnant and occasionally pee my pants. But for a little kid who is potty-training, and obviously trying really hard to make it to the potty in time- come on, people. You could've put the kid out of his misery.
When it was FINALLY our turn to go potty, I didn't think Stewart would actually go. Although he is potty-training, he still wears diapers and he had never peed in a public toilet before. Usually he just says he has to go, but when the moment comes, he gets scared and just wants me to put his diaper back on.
But I obviously underestimated the effect of an entire Diet Coke on Stew's bladder- that kid peed like a racehorse!
I was so proud of him, even though his little wiener was sticking strait out instead of down into the potty and he would have soaked his pants if I hadn't thrust MY OWN BARE HAND in the way and used it as a shield, spraying my entire arm with urine in the process.
Isn't it funny how a mother can be completely exhilarated by her son's accomplishments, even when soaked with urine? I couldn't believe he held his pee that long, and I couldn't believe he peed in a public toilet!
After washing up, we found another Kettle Korn booth and requested an empty Kettle Korn bag, divided up the popcorn, and, consequently, the boys were content for the entire walk back to the car.
We got home around 2:30, Kyle and I more tired by far than the boys, done in by the walking, the screaming, the Kettle Korn fights, and the crowds.
"I had fun," Owen announced as Kyle and I collapsed onto the couch.
"Good," I said, "Sweetheart, I'm glad you had fun."