School starts next week. For me. For Monki, it starts the week after. Yup! She’s not only enrolled in kindergarten/preschool, but she also starts ballet classes on Monday the second of September. Now, those events will probably warrant a post of their own, but in the meantime, this is my last weekend before the semester starts and I have to knuckle down and get stuff done.
Therefore, we decided to take a little break and have some fun family time. This decision was aided by the fact that one of Rasa’s good friends was getting married and we wanted to go and congratulate the happy couple.
Now, for the sake of clarity, let me explain that weddings are done a bit differently over here. In the states, we tend to invite anyone we’ve ever had contact with at any point in our lives, particularly if there’s a bloodline connection. You know the scene:
Your mom: And this is aunt Hildegarde, you remember her, right?
Aunt Hildegarde: I changed your diaper once, when you were 8 months old.
You (accepting the present): Of course I remember you!
Over here, the actual wedding party is more for family and really close friends, while everyone else is invited to the ceremony itself to proffer congratulations and then get on with their day. This was the case with us. Agne and her fiancee were having the civil service at Raudondvaris Castle, about 20 minutes outside of Kaunas (they were having a church service about an hour away after that, which we weren’t going to attend).
This ceremony was similar to the ceremony Rasa and I had at rotušė, a quick, 7 minute series of “do you’s” and “I do’s” then lots of applause and clear the room, the next bride and groom are on their way. And this is where our adventure started.
See, the invitation Rasa had been sent listed the ceremony time as 3:30pm. Not a problem. We got all gussied up, Rasa wore a new dress we’d picked up when the folks were in town, Monki wore a nice summer dress and I had on a button down and a bowtie. It was a warm day and we left in plenty of time to make it without worry.
And we did.
We got to the grounds and found our way to the site of the ceremony (we’d been there once before for another friend’s wedding) right on time. It was 3:27 or so and as we walked into the lobby, the organizer announced we were all to go up the stairs. No problem! We joined the queue and made our way. Monki was great, not complaining and generally being a good three year old! We went up stairs, they closed the door behind us and the ceremony started. And that’s when it happened:
Rasa: That’s not them.
That’s right. We had wandered in to the wrong wedding. Turns out the one we wanted was set to go off at 3:45. It was next on the list. We discovered this after the “you may kiss the bride” and the doors once again opened and we had a chance to ask the venue coordinator if we had missed it. Nope, there it was on the schedule posted down stairs. And sure enough, when we once again went downstairs, there was our bride, resplendent in her dress, coming over to say hello to Monki.
A few minutes later and they were being ushered up the stairs and sure enough, we followed. This time, Monki wasn’t quite as patient as the first time, but, as I say, it’s a short conversation for a lifetime sentence. We got to witness our friends getting hitched, got to say congratulations and deliver flowers and have our picture taken with the happy couple and then they were off and so were we.
We had originally thought about sticking around and taking some nice family shots on our own, but it was too hot, so we packed it in and headed back home to have dinner, then, after changing into more comfortable clothes, went out to Santakos park where Monki got to sit in the “U” of Kaunas, one of her favorite things to do at that park.
That was Saturday. On Sunday, we had no such diversion. Instead, I got up and headed off to one of my coffee shop haunts to get some of my work done for whatever of my many jobs was on the fire at the moment. Rasa and I had been texting back and forth (communication in the modern age) about what we wanted to do, if anything, to get outside with the little one. We considered and discarded various zoos and long car trips and we’d just been to the park and old town the day before, so we chatted and I worked and whatever.
Around lunchtime, Rasa texted and suggested we go to the local public pool. It wasn’t far from our place and we’d never been, and Monki loves the pool (and I’d suggested it a few days earlier, but we understand that once I suggest something, it takes a few days for Rasa to filter it through and come up with it as her idea). Great! Off to the pool we went.
The pool in question is really more of a sports/community center, with a competition pool, a sport club, theatre, sauna, and a kid friendly pool area with a slide and lunch counter. Naturally, we went to that last. Once we entered the area, the smile on Monki’s face was worth any price. She was so excited! Immediately, she jumped into the free swimming area and started paddling around. We were all having a great time. Then she said, “I want to go on the slide.”
Now, here’s where a complication comes into play. The first is that Rasa can’t swim. So sure, she can stand in the water, but generally hugs the sides or sits in the hot tub. The second is she’s afraid of heights, so a 15-20 foot tall slide is pretty much out of the question, even if it didn’t end in a pool of water, thereby invoking issue #1. The final hiccup in it all is me. I’m afraid of the water. Sure, I’m a certified scuba diver, but I’m not comfortable in it at all (I’ve mentioned this before). I don’t like going under and have trouble breathing when I get water in my face (besides the normal, don’t inhale liquid scenario). The only real panic attack I’ve ever had happened 50 feet under the surface on a dive trip. I mean, hell, if it wasn’t for that, I would have been a dive instructor twenty years ago and would have been living on a tropical island instead of a winter wonderland. But then I wouldn’t have the wonderful family I have, so it all works out in the end.
That all said, because I love my wonderful family, especially my wonderful kid who wants to go down a big-ass water slide, guess what I do? Yessiree bob. I go down the damn slide. And not just once. going down the slide pretty much becomes Monki’s reason for existence at the pool. So much so that mommy is able to head off and relax in the hot while my new, waterproof kindle I’ve been dying to try out, remains nice and dry inside the locker in the changing room. Them’s the breaks.
So this is the way it works – We climb up the stairs and Monki sits on my lap and we go down the slide. At the very end, just before we plunge into the briny deep, I lift her up so she stays above the water whilst I…don’t. We do it this way a few times until Monki decides she wants to go down by herself. This ain’t happening. I try to explain to her that she’ll end up with water in her face, even splashing her so she gets the idea. She does not like this, but still wants to go down by herself. She even runs away and giggles maniacally climbing the stairs ahead of me, as if “getting away.” At the top, she climbs into the slide without me, leaving me to hold her back while I get myself into launch position. Eventually, we reach détente. She’ll slide down between my legs, and I won’t hold on until the last second, when again, I lift her up so while I plunge head over toes into the water, she remains safely above the maelstrom. And we do this pretty much for the better part of 90 minutes.
All in all, a great weekend. Did I get everything done I wanted to get done? Not so really. I’ll just add it to the list of things I need to get done tomorrow. It’s not like that list is ever really clear anyway. But she’s not going to be three forever. So I take these opportunities wherever and whenever I can.