13 April 2010

The Wharf (i)

I awoke to whispered excitement and the soft tap tap tap of a video game controller being manipulated. Ty was happily engrossed in Star Wars Battlefront II. I took a moment to (stay in bed) remember; he used to need help in just turning on the TV. He used to want cereal and cartoons first thing in the morning. He would have never dared to touch a power strip under pane of death. That little brother of mine is gone. In his place is a video game junkie who plugged in the 360, picked the game he wanted to play the most, and set out on a quiet quest to beat it. But the kid had not come to San Francisco to play video games.

I made scrambled eggs & pancakes for breakfast. I used white flour for the pancakes and put a buttery crust around the edges. He called the crust "burned" and picked it off. Of the two I made, I asked him to eat one. Of that one, he ate half and hid the 2nd half underneath the 2nd pancake. Just as he reached his sticky fingers for the remote, I sent him to shower. It wasn't until after I had cleaned the kitchen, living room and my bedroom did I realize he was still in the shower. I had no idea what he was doing in there, but I hoped no figurines were being dropped down the drains.

We walked down to Fisherman's Wharf. I didn't have a set plan for us, but I knew I had to keep the kid engaged. We were two blocks from home when he asked for the car. Then he asked why we had to walk. I could have tried to explain the ridiculous beast that is parking in this city - how it was a costly gamble in which the rewards were hardly worth the risk. But I just told him it was good exercise. I showed him a view of Alcatraz. I told him it was a prison way out surrounded by water and asked if he had ever seen The Rock. Nothing. No interest. But he posed for a quick picture.

I showed him where the sea lions used to be at Pier 39. I tried to describe how many there were and how it looked when they would climb on top of each other and bark in protest. But the only sea lions on the docks were as far as possible from spectators. And I kept hearing other adults telling other kids the same "the last time I was here" stories. Their kids didn't care and neither did my brother. He did, however, like being a voyeur. I put a quarter in one of those viewing stations and he saw all the way to Sausalito. He looked onto a passing tour boat and waved at the people on board. It was ten minutes of pure distraction.

"Look I'm on top of a giraffe." We walked through the tourist trap that is Fisherman's Wharf. We went through the candy store where Ty looked at all kinds of things and didn't ask for any. I was impressed and a little disappointed. I rarely buy candy for myself. But I would totally allow a treat for myself while buying one for my brother. Oh well. And then we happened upon the SpongeBob SquarePants 4D Turbo Ride. It's hard for a kid-sized SpongeBob to go unnoticed.

The idea behind the ride is great: 4D vignettes sold individually on in a bundle of three (which we bought). Unfortunately, there's only one theater so you are at them mercy of the scheduling department. But that schedule is not posted, so we ha to constantly ask what was playing next. Also, we had to watch the same safety video before each one. The video was as long as each ride. It was extremely inefficiently run and not really worth the money.

But I see how parents make peace with themselves. The kid loved it. I had fun the first time (on the SpongeBob ride), then started picking apart the organization. He didn't complain about the waiting. And was pleased when it was all over. He was happy so I was happy. But I was also out of ideas.

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