Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Meltdown... The Start to Our Belgian Weekend

There are moments when I plan travel where I clearly don't think very well.  This weekend's trip is one of those examples.  Always on the hunt for a bargain, especially when travelling as a family of four, I had found reasonable flights for us to go to Belgium over the All Saints Day long weekend - a 4 day weekend to somewhere we hadn't travelled before.

The problem being that our flight was at the crack ass of dawn.  Like 6:45AM.  So for Josh and I, it meant getting up at 4:15 and the kids just after 4:30.  And with two kids who usually get up at 6:45, that meant getting up a little over 2 hours earlier than the norm.  Aidan woke up pretty well... Liam, not so much.  And it only got progressively worse over the day.

Liam slept on the plane.  That was after the massive tantrum he had demanding water as we stood in line to board the plane.  He just couldn't seem to grasp the concept that we were boarding and that we couldn't get him water at that immediate moment and that once the plane took off and they started serving we would happily get it for him.  That just didn't fly.  And so he immediately fell asleep on the plane, I got him water when they came by and when he woke up 2 hours later as we were preparing to land (in a totally happy mood of course), he glanced at the water and took, yes, one tiny little sip.

We got to the hotel with little to no issues, they had some food (granola bars) in their bellies.  But still hungry we set off for a little pastry shop to get some croissants to tide us over - after all it wasn't even quite 11, so too early for lunch.  And while we were trying to focus on what the boys needed, somehow Liam still believed, through his terrible terrible hunger, that we were going to let him starve.  And so we were those Americans in the cute Belgian pastry shop with Liam in meltdown phase because for some unknown reason he thought he wasn't getting anything.  We ate the croissants outside the shop looking in at all the nice warm patrons that were probably thinking, ugh, Americans, what do you expect???

The boys fought ALL day.  Not major fighting, but the kind were they constantly feel the need to touch each other and egg each other on.  Poke.  Poke.  Poke.  Over and over and over again.. and let's just throw in one more...over again.

Our plan was to go to the Atomium and then grab lunch at the very top at the little cafe there with great views.  The line to get into the Atomium was ridiculous to begin with and we made our way up to the 5th level only to find that in order to go to the very top you have to go all the way back down and take an elevator up.  An elevator with at least an hour long line.  By now it's after 1PM and the kids really didn't have much breakfast and now, they haven't had lunch.  And let's be realistic, I'm hungry too.  Josh somehow, is never hungry.  I wish I knew his trick.

But the tickets we bought were for the Planetarium too and we're pretty much in the middle of no where and seem to have no other food options open to us right now.  So off we went to the Planetarium.  Too bad the planetarium show was in 30 mins at 2PM.  Yup, another long wait.  The kids did awesome.  And they did awesome on the train back into Brussels center.

But then it all went to hell in a handbag when we actually tried to sit down for a meal.  It's after 3:30 and the first place we went into Josh didn't like and Aidan threw a fit and took off down the road not wanting to eat with us.  Liam and I sat down and started to scan the menu when Aidan came back stating that Josh didn't want to eat here.  So I start to bundle Liam back up and then Josh came in and we're all arguing in the middle of the cafe.  It's not pretty.  Seriously, you don't want to see us when we are all tired and hungry.

So we went off to restaurant number 2.  It was packed for 3:30 in the afternoon.  And we had to wait for a table so I was thinking, wow, this must be a fantastic restaurant we've stumbled upon!!!  Woo hoo!!  All the locals are here and it's busy, two good signs.  The boys are arguing over who will sit with which parent - don't they get that we are sitting as a family and really, it doesn't matter who sits next to who - instead you'll be next to one parent and across from the other, both have their benefits I'm sure.

Liam didn't like the way the argument was going and apparently I sat in the wrong spot because talk about your flat out, screaming bloody murder meltdown.  It started off slow but it got louder and louder and the tears started to stream down his face.  If I wasn't so mortified about once again being those people, then I would have found it amusing.  But instead we bundled them back up and went back to the hotel, throwing in the white flag despite it now being almost 4 and we still haven't eaten.  Can we be more stupid?

Moral of the story - I know that these meltdowns were all hunger and sleep related.  With kids that are 5 and 8, I had hoped we were somewhat past that phase but realistically do any of us really get past that?  I'm sitting here right now seething because I'm STARVING and I know that if I ate something (I'm totally being a martyr right now as Josh told me 10 mins ago to go get something to which in my snippy hungry way, I replied that "I'M FINE!") that things would be better.  And I know that the same goes with the kids.  That does not make these meltdowns any easier to shuffle through them though.  But at least knowing what the root problem was at least reminds us that we need to be more aware of their needs.

Eventually Aidan and I headed out in an attempt for a snack but it was too late - too late for lunch and too early for dinner.  And it started to rain.  And he fell in the middle of the street.  But we were in front of a doner kebab (there are a gazillion of them here) place and so just decided this is where we would go and got some "famous" (I use this term loosely because we were in a kebab place which isn't exactly Belgian) french fries with mayo.  It was enough to hold us over til dinner.  Though Aidan apparently didn't want to go to dinner after that but wanted room service (um entitled!).  He lost that battle ... though really, of the 4 of us, who really lost that battle?  Yup, Josh and I...

Today wasn't the best start to one of our vacations, but as I told Josh tonight, we've had so many trips in the last 3 years with awesome weather, hardly any rain and overall, decent if not really great behavior... they can't all go that smoothly can they?  It rained today and we are expecting rain tomorrow, Sat and at least part of Sun (it will stop when we board the plane on Sun afternoon I'm sure), so we will make the best of it, set our expectations low and just try to enjoy experiencing a new country - new people, new food, new surroundings - for just a few days.  With this rough of a start, it can only get better (fingers crossed), right?   And hopefully tomorrow I'll be sharing a much happier entry... though the kids are asleep, Josh is at the hotel bar and I'm in my hotel room surrounded by peace and quiet, not a bad way to end a rough day.


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