on my way out the door to pick up oliver from school and head over there, it occurred to me that violet would be admitted free of charge, meaning i still had an adult and child that could get in for free and it would be a total waste to not have another adult and child. i texted delayna, who has a five year old and an under three year old and she was on board.
we got there about an hour before closing time. the breeze was cooling. the sky was blue. shady trees were shading. we could already see butterflies fluttering around the outside perimeter of the building.
oliver grew jealous, i suppose, of the fact that miriam was holding violet's hand. i'm not sure if he was jealous of miriam or violet or both, but he did his best to break into the middle of their grasp. now, violet spent the first half of her life being defenselessly subjected to her brother's tough love and i suspect she suffers from some kind of periodic subconscious PTSD, which causes her to occasionally become rather vocal when oliver tries to hold her hand or hug her. you never really know how she's going to react to his affection.
it was with vociferous objection on this day. which, of course, did not dissuade oliver. in other words, we weren't even in the door yet and i was already experiencing some behavioral issues, which i mentioned to oliver. as if it would change anything.
we found an employee buried in the depths of the gift shop, who took our coupon in exchange for lapel stickers and we took the elevator to the second floor and stepped into this dual-doored chamber designed to allow us entrance with no exit for the butterflies. the second door slid open and whoosh. it was a butterfly utopia.
you hear "butterfly garden" and you might think, "oh, that does sound nice and pleasant." and then you actually walk into a butterfly garden and it is just badass butterfly-ness all over your face and you just can't believe a butterfly garden could be that fucking awesome.
it took two seconds for someone somewhere to accidentally squash the life from one of the butterflies. we spiraled down the walkway through the artificial butterfly heavens and spun down on to the earth. you could get worked up just over the foliage in there alone.
one thing, the butterflies like it muggy, so wear your best hippie deodorant and a tank top. look for a/c vents if it becomes too much. there was another worker in there to keep us in line. she sat next to one of those caterpillar habitat things you can buy and she was waiting for these fresh, gigantic, white and black butterflies to mosey out into their new world. oliver insisted on tapping the mesh and i asked him to stop. he persisted and the worker explained how they would perceive him as a predator and not want to allow him a closer look. he tried to blow on them through the mesh.
i took many opportunities to explain to oliver how he was the oldest child there, yet was acting like the youngest. younger than the youngest. no avail.
the more we walked through the garden, the more we would find ourselves in the middle of butterfly storms. miriam was so involved trying to find them on her chart, she would miss the enormous, blue-winged ones flying right past her nose.
the worker let oliver have an errant butterfly wing and he angered his sister by trying to give it to her. here is a picture of that. please note how violet's dress contains a stylistic representation of a butterfly garden, brought to you by HealthTex.
time was becoming scarce, so we tore ourselves away to the outdoor gardens. holy shit. more amazing foliage. a light breeze. a fountain that grew bigger the closer you got. imagine that! or just look at the photos below and save your creativity!
oliver started picking at his butt with worrying frequency. it's easy to dismiss at first, as his underwear collection is the same one he moved into from diapers and the kids like to wear them backwards these days, so, you know, up the crack.
at some point, i asked if he had pooped his pants. because there was that one time awhile ago, where he pooped his pants, took a siesta, went to whole foods, and made it to the dinner table before the crack-scratching became wild enough to expose his mystery. it gives me flashbacks to this day.
oliver refused to acknowledge one way or the other about pants-pooping, answering only with furtive pants yanking. i promised not to tell miriam. finally, FINALLY, he admitted it and we took the long, slow, ambling walk back to the building. i asked the gift shop ticket lady for a plastic bag and took him to the handicapped stall (handicapped by poop, that is), and stripped his lower half... holding my figurative and literal breath the whole way. well, thank you god and jesus! it was just a manageable shart! whew!
the underpants went in the bag and into my purse (where they stayed for two days). oliver squirmed and giggled while i tried to remove the shart from his crack and he was commandoed back into his pants.
we took another, less long walk back to the others after being told the building would close in 15 minutes, but we could escape out some side gate in the outdoor gardens. while delayna was telling me violet had been totally cool while i was gone, i could hear her beginning to shriek because oliver was trying to barge in on hand holding again and so i threw my hands up in the air and made that grimacing face i always make when my child won't listen to me which is all the time.
it was around then that delayna discovered Aaron the Hungry had red berries in his mouth and she found the skins in his teeth. we didn't know what kinds of trees they were, but her mother always told her the trees with the red berries were poisonous. we took some time trying to see if our brains could decide the definition of poisonous and the amount of panic that should accompany it and the likelihood that the entire length of the child-friendly butterfly garden would be lined with poisonberry trees.
we wandered through some vegetable gardens and over to a grassy knoll. in an uncharacteristic move, Aaron the Great Escape Artist began clinging to delayna. and we thought, "uh oh."
violet started saying she needed to pee. the outdoor bathrooms were locked. aaron laid himself flat out on the ground. and we thought, "oh fuck," and delayna began looking up the number to poison control while i stood there uselessly punching buttons on my phone which was taking one of its frequent vacations from internet access while away from home. not so smartphone after all.
poison control said they didn't know what kind of tree it was. TAKE HIM STRAIGHT TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM AND WHICH ARE YOU GOING TO SO I CAN CALL AHEAD AND TELL THEM YOU'RE COMING?! and we thought, "really?" and she tried texting a photo of the tree to her pediatrician while miriam tried to show violet how to pee in the grass and oliver refused to stop peeking no matter what i said to him and violet finally peed in the grass, as did miriam. and that reminds me that i should purchase two of those pee-while-standing-up lady cups.
delayna decided to wander off and look for someone, anyone, to identify the tree. oliver said he needed to go to the bathroom again. delayna found someone who told her it was a something-holly-or-another and she called her husband for his googling access while i tried to get oliver to pee in the tree and miriam returned the peeking favor.
it was almost six at this point. a good thirty minutes after closing time. somewhere along the way, oliver had made another juicy sounding noise and was threatening to poop his pants for real and he never did pee in the tree anyway.
delayna was delaying, see how i did that there? and i mouthed the words, "I'M GOING TO START WALKING OVER THERE TO TRY AND FIND THE GATE OUT." and she eventually followed. miraculously, we found the gate and then one of the large snapping turtles who had lost his way from the swan boat lagoon. or had he?
we thought he was a statuette at first and then realized he wasn't. exciting! dangerous! i don't really know if it had a penis.
i don't know. i don't think i've really summed up just how fucking frustrated i was with oliver's behavior. it sounds pretty tame to read it. it was one of those days where you keep saying, "NOW WHY WOULD I EVER WANT TO TAKE YOU SOMEWHERE NICE WHEN YOU ACT LIKE A TWO YEAR OLD AND WON'T LISTEN TO ANYTHING I SAY? I TRIED TO TAKE YOU SOMEWHERE NICE TODAY. CAN YOU HEAR ME?!"
oh yeah. he hit miriam twice while delayna was identifying poisonous berries. good grief.
my powers of coincidence returned night before last. i told gennie that she could have free horses and donkeys if she lived in texas. then, i pulled up my amazon cart to find the horse and unicorn masks sitting in there that i'm dying for (oddly enough, the seed for that was planted by gennie... a coincidence within a coincidence) and i showed them to brian, hoping he would tell me to purchase them. then, liz lemon opened her door to find a horse in her office. i swear there was a fourth one. i mean, it was just over the top horses there for a couple of hours.