SeaWorld…a mother’s dream

Greetings from sunny Florida! I am on vacation with the kids this week. Hardworking husband was here last week but now is back in rainy NYC. While parenting solo, I decided to be truly ridiculous and take three children under five on a two-hour drive to SeaWorld. Some people climb Mount Everest. I seek my thrills in other ways. “As real as it gets,” is SeaWorld’s tagline, and they’ve got it right there.

Now I do have to make a confession. I had a babysitter meet me there. Let me pat myself on the back a little longer, however: I got all three kids in the car and drove 100 miles, waited in the 20-minute line to park with a screaming baby, loaded the stroller and walked with all three of them (no strollers on the tram) from the furthest reaches of the parking lot (I mean, we were in G-41. It only goes to G-43) while Cooper and Fergus were protesting “I’m hot!” although we had not even reached the park entrance yet. Then I took all three of them to the bathroom, and went potty myself, while holding still-screaming baby. Then I nursed her while simultaneously applying sunscreen to the boys and waiting in the Ellis Island crowds while waiting to get our bags inspected. THEN we met our babysitter, and I was already ready to turn around and drive home.

Because here’s how I was imagining the rest of the day would go: my lovely babysitter, Sarah, would take the boys on rides, and through thrilling simulated underwater adventures, while I would eke out a foot-square shady spot of asphalt to sit down on and nurse Maddie while passersby ogled, then push her around the park non-stop so she could have any semblance of a nap. That’s what moms do. We sit on the sidelines with the baby while Daddy Good-Times gets to throw the kids around in the pool. We enable the fun, but don’t get to participate ourselves. I always thought, growing up, that my mom just didn’t like to swim. I don’t think she put on a bathing suit all summer. Now I realize, she just figured, what was the point?

Upon arriving at the Shamu’s Happy Harbor section of the park, a cleaned-up version of your neighborhood Kiwanis carnival, I told Sarah that she should take the boys on the “Jazzy Jellies” (ersatz Dumbo ride) and the “Swishy Fishies” (ersatz Teacups), and I would go change Maddie’s diaper in some filthy restroom, and try to make it up to her for having brought her to this sweltering, crowded place.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found, not only a immaculate “changing room” for babies, but a pleasantly air-conditioned “nursing room” for mothers, with this chair waiting for me:

Will you look at that soothing lavender-toned-coral-reef-themed room? I put my feet up. Maddie nursed for like two minutes, then just wanted to smile at the other babies. However, we stayed in there for about twenty minutes, then returned twice more during the overheated Orlando afternoon hours, although Maddie wasn’t even hungry. Are you kidding me? I thought I had died and gone to the Ritz Carlton. I have never felt so lucky, as a nursing mom, to have to sit by and observe the action. I’m going to nurse Maddie until she’s in preschool, if it means I get to spend half of my day at SeaWorld in one of those chairs. I upgraded our tickets to a yearly pass lickety-split. I can’t wait to get back there.

Oh, the kids? Oh yeah them. Cooper’s favorite part was Clyde and Seamore take Pirate Island,, a show starring sea lions and a walrus, and for some reason, an otter that ran across the stage every once in a while. The animals were enjoyable, but I’m still trying to figure out what the hell was going on. It was some sort of pirate adventure, on a ship that docked on an island but then they stayed on the ship the whole time, and there was an evil captain but then he wasn’t evil, and then it was over and we only knew because they told us so. I mean, this show makes Antonin Artaud look positively transparent by comparison. This was the most complicated piece of theater since Underwater all the Animals at the Circus Show, and those of you who saw that limited run know what I was talking about. SeaWorld should actually obtain the worldwide theatrical rights to that one and do that instead; the kids would like it better.

Anyway, Cooper’s favorite part of the day was the part in the Clyde and Seamore show when the captain’s pants fell down and you could see his underwear.

And Fergus? Well, he liked the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales the best. I’m sure you’re already guessing why, but I’ll let him tell you:

“My favorite part? Was da big horses? And dey was all boys? And you know why? Because I could see dere penises.”

In other words, SeaWorld TRULY has something for everyone.