Well, me and Thalia and a gaggle of journalists and bloggers and their own children, some PR folks and a lot of people who seem to want to ply my daughter with sugar.
I was there covering the launch of the new Kids Club for Cool Mom Picks, where an actual review will be forthcoming. (Update: Here 'tis)Yes, most expenses were covered by Atlantis, LEGO and my favorite airline, Jet Blue. Yes I feel like the luckiest beyatch on the planet. Yes I hope each one of you gets the same opportunity one day so I can call you a lucky beyatch and you'll grin and eat up every minute of it.
Of course I did have to get over the guilt of leaving Sage behind, but I am convincing myself that at two-and-a-half, she'd never remember it anyway.
I admit that on family trips, I tend to fall into the role of Mom Who Stays Behind On The Beach, keeping my hair out of the water, and waving to the kids from behind my Vanity Fair. It's Nate who gets to assume the rule of silly, waterlogged Fun Dad. So it was wholly liberating to be the one who played motorboat in the kiddie pool with Thalia. And let her cover my ankles in sand on the beach. And floated for an hour in a river ride on an inner tube built for two, with her perched on my ankles calling excitedly, Hold on...here comes ANOTHER WAVE!
It was like getting to be the part of me I liked as a kid, and the part of me I like as a parent all at once.
And the whole putting away the computer for six hours straight thing? Should do it more often.
Not that I can, but I should.
I did shirk parenting duties one night with Nicole Feliciano, Anna Fader and Christine Koh, leaving our girls to have a "pajama party" in the room under the watchful eye of Anna's responsible fifth-grader and that other competent babysitter, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. After all, Nobu's Alaskan King Crab Leg Tempura appetizer was calling. (And the $35 I won on a slot machine just about paid for it)
I was also able to drop Thalia at the new and gazillion-dollar improved Atlantis Kids Club for a couple of hours one afternoon while Nicole and I conquered a 200-foot water slide ominously called THE ABYSS, shrieking our way down the dark, wet tunnel then climbing up again to reassure the tweens on line that nah, it wasn't really that scary.
But really, the trip was about me and Thalia.
In fact, for whatever money was spent rebuilding that Kids Club; and as insane as the water park was; and as great as the make-your-own-sundae bars at every dinner; and as hilarious as it was watching our guest "celebrity" Frankie Jonas trying to balance being a paid spokesperson with certain responsibilities, and a regular 8 year-old who just wanted to race the radio controlled monster trucks--those will probably not be the moments that stand out most to me as I reflect back on the trip.
I think what I'll remember most was absolutely low-tech, and quiet and free:
The evenings in which Thalia and shimmied out of our wet suits, hopped into a warm bath together, and talked about the our day.
I tickled her toes. We splashed water. We smelled all the mini shampoo bottles and tried to guess what scents they were. We soaped each other's backs. We swirled the washcloths around in the water. Then I would spin around and settle back into the V of her legs, so she could wash my hair, all while making the chhhhhhh sound as she rinsed it out, just like the shampoo girls in the salons.
Afterward, we'd climb out, wrap ourselves in big white towels, pick out our pajamas, and curl up in bed together watching the Ace of Cakes ("I LOVE the Food Network!") until we fell asleep.
There were no tantrums in those moments. No whining. No nagging and no pleading.
Just a wet, happy mother and a daughter enjoying each other, entirely uninterrupted by life or siblings or emails or telephones or a dog who needed to be walked or a job (or twenty) that needed to be done.
Just Mommy and Thalia.