With the kids registered for Kids Bowl Free, I thought I would surprise them by bringing them in for a game and meet up with my sister and her step-kids, too. After the zoo incident, I was cautious about telling the kids what the plans were despite their queries as we began the long process of loading everyone into the extremely hot Suburban. But this time I had called the bowling lanes to confirm their times and to confirm their participation in the Kids Bowl Free program. We had an early supper and all was looking promising.
Duane was working a night shift and once again, Antoinette and Melina were my incredible helping hands! The drive was excruciating particularly with temperatures being above 30 degrees in a non-airconditioned vehicle. Fifty minutes into our drive and five minutes away from our destination, I thought it was safe to tell the kids what the plan was. This was met with cheers and high fives in their car seats. Literally moments after telling the kids, my cell phone rang and Melina answered for me. It was my sister.
"Tell her we're less than five minutes away." I said.
Melina, instead, is quiet and answers "No, I don't think Mom is aware of that." It's amazing what can get the heart pumping as one's thoughts visit every possibility in the span of a split second.
"Okay, I'll let mom know... Um, Mom? Did you know that the Kids Bowl Free is only on weekdays from 9:00 til 5:00 pm?"
You have got to be flippin' kidding me!! Oh my goodness, do we pay $90 for all of us to bowl anyways? No way! The whole point of registering with Kids Bowl Free was to bowl... for FREE! For this single income family, that was the reason for registering! We paid the $25 adult fee so that Duane, Antoinette, Melina and myself could be added to the list all summer long, too.
I grip the steering wheel hard between my slippery, sweaty hands and remember my husbands words in these moments "Just breathe."
"No.. I was NOT aware of the time restriction."
"Mom, Tante Linda says she might have a coupon for bowling"
"Okay, tell her we're driving to her place right now."
"Mommy? Aren't we going bowling?"
"I don't know kids... it's not looking like tonight will be the best time after all. Maybe we could try again really soon, ok?" Even though my instincts said don't look in the rear view mirror, I couldn't help it and once again felt crushed by their sad looks. Why on earth can't I get these outings right? I'd phoned and asked questions but not the right ones!
We arrive at my sister's, peel out of our seats like one would flip a half cooked burger on the grill and drag our feet towards my sister's house as though we've just found an oasis within the desert! All bags are dropped at the entrance and the cargo looks as if we're staying the week. Thank God almighty for my sister's sense of humour and the fun we were all able to have despite another set of plans gone awry. My sister's coupons had expired and one desperate call into the bowling lanes asking if they'd make the exception this one time was futile. But the kids were well entertained by Uncle Gil and true to form, Avalyn unleashed in her diaper which leaked everywhere. Much easier to manage in a home than a bowling alley!
But truly, why is it that a child's bowels are stimulated during outings?? Why o why?
A few days later I was brave enough to attempt bowling one more time. Kids were up from nap early, got in a nursing, and we drove down to the bowling alley closest to Izzy's daycare. It was our Friday pickup day so a quick game before picking her up could be nice for the kids. Duane had to work in the fields and Melina was working her first shift at her new job (way to go Mina!). So it was just Antoinette and me with the four little ones. This time, I resolved not to say ANYTHING until we were throwing bowling balls down the lane!!
It was another scorcher of a day and the ride in the Suburban was "pleasant" as always. The kids kept asking where we were going to which I kept replying "you'll see." We were in the parking lot, I still wouldn't tell them what we were doing. We were climbing the stairs with images of bowling pins and the kids exclaimed "BOWLING!!" but I still would neither confirm nor deny. At the front desk, I said "We're here because we're part of the Kids Bowl Free program?"
The manager looked at me and said "Ok.. where's your coupons?"
"Coupons? What do you mean, coupons?"
"You have to login to the website and print your daily coupons."
The all too familiar heart palpitations were felt but a quick solution came to mind. "I didn't know I was supposed to print any coupons but could I borrow your computer and print them here?"
"No.. our computer's not working right now."
"Can I login from my iPHone and show you the coupons from there?"
"Listen, Sir... we just drove in from out of town for a SECOND time trying to do this whole Kids Bowl Free because you wouldn't make the exception the other day when I didn't know about the time restrictions of your program. Are you seriously telling me there is NOTHING I can do to bowl with my children right now?"
"If I make the exception for you, I'll have to make the exception for everyone else."
Oh good grief, what is this, elementary school? Sheesh! The kids are watching with excitement the effects of the black lights lighting up the whites on their clothes and they're jumping up and down with the idea of bowling. One last thought... my sister Linda lives three minutes away... she's home... maybe she'd be willing to print my coupons and meet us here.
A desperate phone call to her saying "So I'm trying this AGAIN and screwed up yet again. Any way you could print my coupons and join us for a game?"
Tante Linda saved the day when she showed up ten minutes later with coupons. Sivana had since unleashed in her diaper and thankfully Antoinette tackled that one as I waited for my sister. She later told me the alley was NOT equipped with a change table!
When Linda arrived, I handed the manager my tickets as I asked Antoinette to get the kids leather Robbies on. The day was saved! Except the manager hands them back to me and says "These are for the other bowling alley."
Gulp... twitch, twitch... "Aren't you all part of the same program?"
"Yes, but you have to register with a specific participating bowling alley and you registered with a different one."
At this point, I'm short of yelling at the sky at the top of my lungs "WHAT ON EARTH HAVE YOU GOT AGAINST BOWLING????" My brave sister said "Look why don't you use my coupons for my kids?" The manager did not look pleased but he said he'd make the exception this one time. Only... as he was looking at her coupons, they were for the wrong day.
I must have looked pretty pathetic (or scary) because the guy finally let us get some bowling shoes. What should have been a good hour and a half window of opportunity to play was now down to forty minutes thanks only to the fact that my sister joined us and could help me while Antoinette went to pick up Isabel before the daycare closed.
"Antoinette? Is it just me or do things seem to go wrong for me lots?" She laughed and said "I can't help but think it's so you have something to blog about!" To which I burst out laughing. So at least the good Lord has ensured that the end of a chaotic attempt is met with some humour thanks to my helpers!
Our Torah portion that Sabbath was about the loyal donkey who kept veered off the path three times despite her owner's wrath. The good Lord granted the donkey speech in that moment so she could tell her master that she veered off the path those times to spare his life from the angel of death she was able to see but that he could not. The Lord then allowed him to see the angel of death and the master felt terrible for striking his donkey for what seemed like her disobedience. The lesson being that when things don't go as we plan, it is likely because we are being lovingly spared by a worser fate!
Despite the lesson, I could not help the fact that my original hope of bowling on Mondays had dwindled considerably and the idea of just staying home (in an air-conditioned home) was sounding more and more pleasant to me! But apparently not enough to talk me out of an attempt to the movie theatre the following week. Stay tuned for that one!