Friday, 7 September 2007

My Embassy Adventure (tm)

Yesterday I took the kids into London so I could get my passport renewed at the American embassy. You may ask yourself, dear reader, what on earth could have possessed me to voluntarily take my three children, all under the age of five, into London by train and tube. I could claim insanity, but that would be redundant; it's my natural state of being. The truth is, I'm a bit of a control freak and since I didn't know exactly how long the appointment would take, I didn't want to leave the children in someone else's care for an undetermined amount of time. Also, I've never been that far away from them before and the thought made me nervous. My husband works in London, so the plan was to meet him for lunch and spend the afternoon at the Natural History Museum.

The novelty of travelling by train kept the older ones entertained for about 40 minutes. They were as good as gold when the train car was empty, but as soon as it filled up with other travellers (most of them the austere business suit sort, of course), Middle Child decided it was time to stretch his legs a bit. Um, sorry son, but no. The result? At least ten minutes of screaming, kicking, full-blown toddler tantrum that the entire train was privy to. I was mortified! Once he tired himself out, luckily he was fine. In London, I lugged my double buggy up and down stairs, in and out of tube stations, and negotiated large crowds of people without much incident.

The highlights:

1. Firstly, a big thank you to all the Londoners who helped me with my children. Those people who helped me move the buggy around, held my children's hands and kept them from running off or falling down the escalator, you are all saints in my book. Thanks so much!

2. A pox on the person who stole my kid's toy London bus. He only had it for an hour, and you took it out of the buggy! What kind of person steals a child's toy? Bah.

3. A reminder to the tourist shop owner: I may have a foreign accent, but I'm no dummy. No doubt your little trick of 'accidentally' leaving out a bit of change to your customers works on some, but don't try to pull that on me. A big sarcastic thank you for giving me my pound back.

4. To the kamikaze rollerblader, a suggestion: Use a helmet! Rollerblading on the road without any safety gear is just CRAZY. Have you seen the way people drive around London? Why would you risk life and limb like that?

5. The Natural History Museum, while fascinating and a lot of fun, can also be scary to a (nearly) three year old when he sees dinosaur bones up close and personal.

6. One big benefit of all the traffic in London is that you can't hear your child moan and whinge about being toooooo tiiiiiiired to waaaaaaalk any further. Hold tight onto her hand, walk at a fast clip, and cheerily tell her you can't hear a word she's saying.

7. London public transportation is not buggy friendly. However, buggies are the perfect tool for parting the crowds and squeezing onto crowded tubes. Make sure you at least sound partially sincere for bashed shins.

8. Mayfair has incredibly delicious restaurants at great prices. If you're ever in London, eat lunch there.

We got home around 9 o'clock, fed the kids a cup of milk and a slice of bread and butter, and sent them to bed. They passed out within two minutes.

Did they sleep in? HA! These are the Raisin'Cookies children, remember? Up at dawn regardless of bedtime. At least we survived the journey intact, and I should be the proud owner of an up-to-date US passport within the next 15 working days.

All in all, the day was a success. I need about four days of sleep to recover, though.

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