Sunday, June 19, 2016

California Girls We're Undeniable, Fine, Fresh, Fierce, We Got It On Lock

Second full day of vacation! We had a lazy morning. We all slept in the guest bedroom at our "vacation house"--David and Zuzu and me in the bed and Coco in a pack & play. This is not so different from home, but of course nobody sleeps quite as well when they are somewhere else. Still, the bed was comfy and except for a LITERAL KICK IN THE FACE I got from Zuzu at one point in the wee hours of the morning, I was pleasantly surprised that the girls slept pretty well. (This does not always happen when you skip regular naps and exhaust them with activities.)

Since the ferry had gone so well the day before, we decided to take it back over to San Francisco again to do some of the touristy stuff around Pier 39. Our first stop was a quick detour to Target to buy diapers, but then we parked at the Alameda ferry stop and took the boat from there. The girls discovered spinning chairs on the ferry ride and had THE BEST time ever, while I put on my motion sickness wrist bands because watching them spin while also ferrying across the water on a boat was making me feel yicky.

David and I did the Alcatraz tour back in 2009, so we skipped that, but we thought Zuzu would get a kick out of the sea lions and riding a streetcar.

 Well, the line was a million miles long and she just kept talking about the carousel back at the pier, so we ended up skipping the streetcar too. We walked around and browsed touristy shops and ate at a seafood restaurant with beautiful views of the harbor. It was slightly upscale compared to some of the fish places on the pier, so of course our children behaved as though it was their first introduction to civilization ever.

We asked for a high chair and a booster seat, and Zuzu immediately had a throw-herself-on-the-floor sobbing fit because SHE wanted a high chair just like Coco's (translation: she needed to eat and sleep). The hostess said they were actually running low on high chairs and we didn't want to reward the tantrum, but we also didn't want to make everyone in the restaurant listen to that nonsense. Hashtag parenting in public is difficult.

Anyway, we managed to distract her with something that was NOT a high chair, and then we ordered them a child's pasta meal to split for $9.95 because that was our punishment for bringing them there. Of course Zuzu ate one bite of noodles and filled up on free bread and Coco eschewed the pasta all together in favor of sharing David's ginormous seafood platter, but at least they weren't screaming when the food arrived. Still, their behavior at lunch was not great and I was relieved when we got out of there. (Sidenote: We've used a LOT of public restrooms on this vacation, and they are very good about following bathroom rules, which mostly consist of "Do not open the stall while Mama is peeing" and "Do not touch the toilet." It's nice to know that they can behave themselves in some situations.)

We strolled around after lunch, hoping both girls would fall asleep since we'd brought two strollers. Coco obliged, but Zuzu was amped up about the carousel (which had had someone working on it earlier) so eventually we made our way back over to the pier. Much to her dismay, the carousel was still closed, but there was a magic show going on, so that entertained her for a bit while I bought a couple of little souvenirs (a travel coffee mug and a streetcar Christmas ornament that Zuzu chose even though she didn't care about riding the streetcar, which Coco consistently misidentified as a "BUS!").

We had dinner again with Sarah and Erik and Owen--tacos this time (my favorite!)--and watched a very disappointing Warriors game. The kids dressed up as super heroes, which was adorable, and Coco came in saying "Mine? Mine?" because she wanted a cape like Zuzu and Owen had. Erik fashioned one for her out of a bandana and it was adorable. Owen and Zuzu fought over Magna Tiles and teamed up against pretend bad guys to have some epic sword fights.

At one point, Coco came into the living room having drawn a goatee on her own face with red marker. We laughed at her, so Owen grabbed a marker and imitated her, which was cute. It was washable, so we took the marker from her and wiped her face with a baby wipe and really thought nothing of it. A bit later, Sarah discovered red marker on the kitchen floor, but that also wiped up with no problem and we kind of laughed about Coco and the red marker.

It was only when we were following the sounds of the kids' voices all the way back to the master bedroom in the back of the house that we discovered Coco had made the rounds with this red marker: She'd scribbled all over two gray chairs in the bedroom (fortunately they had microfiber slip covers) and she'd made a huge red mark across a foam core mounted photograph that Sarah had displayed on a side table between the chairs.

You guys. This was not any old photograph.

My daughter had taken a red marker and slashed across the face of Sarah and Erik's son Otis in the photograph that had been displayed at his funeral. This was a print that Sarah's best friend had created for her at a time when Sarah couldn't even cope with looking at photos and making decisions. This was a print that had been color-corrected to best represent the beautiful, beautiful baby who had died just shortly after he was born.

And Coco had drawn a red marker line across Otis's sweet, chubby cheeks, down through his perfect bow mouth, and onto the white blanket he was lying on.

Sarah said something like, "Oh, and she marked on Otis," in this sad voice that was also somehow matter-of-fact, but I gasped out loud and my stomach twisted up in knots so tight I thought I was going to puke. My eyes filled with tears as I asked Sarah if she had digital copies and if I could get it reprinted for her. She was taking it all in stride and saying nice things like, "If any baby could get away with doing this, it would be your kid," but I was just stricken. (She wasn't sure about the digitals, and I knew that even a perfect reprint just wouldn't be quite the same, you know?)

I suggested she get a damp paper towel and just see if the marker would come off with a bit of rubbing, but she was afraid of damaging the photograph. But I thought if the paper towel was just barely wet it might be okay, so I said as much, and she asked if I would try it. (!)

Of course I dreaded being doubly responsible for the destruction of a precious memento (I mean SERIOUSLY WHY DID THIS HAPPEN???), but I decided to try it just a bit on the part of the photo that was the white blanket.

And THANK GOODNESS the marker came off.

You can still see a tiny hint of pink if you pick up the photo and study it closely, but I didn't want to rub the photo any harder, and we decided to just call it a kiss from Coco. Coco the marker-wielding toddler bent on destroying the most precious objects in other people's homes, particularly people who have been so extremely generous to us (not to mention the fact that Sarah's friendship kind of saved my life back in 2011).

In return for your kindness, I'll go ahead let my kid graffiti up an irreplaceable photograph of your deceased child.

(Dear BLM friends: Would you like us to vacation in your city and visit your home and deface your most precious mementos? CALL ME!)

Anyway, Sarah was incredibly cool about it, and Erik later assured her that they actually have multiple copies of that photo, and the marker came out of the chairs with a Shout wipe and Coco will be very, very sorry once she develops a conscience. In the meantime, lock up your markers when that kid is around.


  1. Oh my goodness. My stomach was in knots too. I don't know how you kept your cool, but I'm so glad the marker came out.

    I love the trip recaps and photos. Looks like a such a fun trip.

    1. I was pretty teary and not really cool at all, and I kept apologizing and hugging Sarah. But I'm glad the photo was nearly restored to original condition and it wasn't the dry erase marker that Sarah also confiscated from the kids.

  2. It also made me think that Otis would have had a red marker goatee too, if he'd have been there. But that's also sad, and still wouldn't make me less freaked out if my kid as holding the market. I'm glad it came out but wish he was a part of the real mess. Coco included him, in her own toddler way.