A day late, but I was drafting this in my head on my drive home from Orlando.
Yesterday Adelyn and I had a girl’s day at Sea World. The drive up is about two and a half hours if you don’t hit traffic, and thankfully we didn’t. Before we headed out on our mini road trip, we grabbed coffee for me and a donut for her. This gave me about ten whole minutes of silence while she devoured her strawberry sprinkle donut. And do you know why I wrote strawberry instead of pink? Because I had to listen to a twenty-minute ramble fest about how her donut was strawberry, not pink, and it was the best tasting donut, better than chocolate, and they should only make strawberry sprinkle donuts.
I don’t think I had my radio on for much of the trip. Adelyn has quite the imagination, and I wanted to listen to her wild tales. Occasionally Adelyn would ask me to turn up the radio so she could sing songs she knew, and if she didn’t like the music, she would ask me to turn it down. At one point, she sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and asked me to sing with her.
“Mommy, I love when you sing with me,” she said after the third time through.
Part of me wanted to be snarky and ask if she had potatoes in her ears because mommy doesn’t have a good singing voice, but the part that asked her what other songs she wanted to sing.
When I decided I wanted another baby, I was worried about how our relationship would be. Adelyn has always been my tiny shadow following me, but is also very much her own person. I wasn’t sure if adding another little dependent would change things, and in a way, it has. I see her actively searching me out for when she wants her one-on-one time where, as before, I think she had gotten used to me just being there. Now my time is precious because it’s split between three instead of two.
At one point on the trip up, things got quiet. I looked back in my rearview mirror, and she was quietly playing with her stuffed beluga whale. She told her stuffie we would see its mommy and explained how much fun we would have today. I’m pretty sure my heart exploded.
I feel like one of the few parents who doesn’t hand my child some form of electronics when they get into the car. We have crayons, markers, and coloring books in the backseat for the kids if they get bored. Also, there is a window for them to stare out of because it’s not the worst thing in the world for them to be bored. The boredom tends to spark creativity in Adelyn. She makes up songs and stories or suddenly remembers what she did in school instead of her usual answer of “I don’t remember.”
There is a song that I must remember to thank her music teacher for teaching her. She asks over and over again, “are we there yet” and the parent responds with, “not yet, look out the window and tell me what you see.” This sparked a wild tale about alligators in the water eating the cows grazing in the fields we passed. She asked why there were no houses along the road, and I explained we were in the middle of the state. This started a five-minute giggle-fest because she thought I said snake. She told me everything around us was what made up the snake, and we were driving on its belly.
The closer we got to ending our trip on the turnpike, the wilder she became. At one point, I told her I would feed her to the sharks if she did not calm down. This did not calm her down.
“You can’t feed me to the sharks!” She cried. “If you feed me to the sharks, you won’t have a little girl.”
“That’s okay. I’ll make a new one.” I teased.
It probably wasn’t the best idea because now she was telling me how I couldn’t make any more babies because daddy said no more babies, and I would be stuck with all the stinky boys.
As silly as Adelyn can be, she knows when to chill. As we pulled off the turnpike, she quieted down. We turned onto 417, and the roads were congested. In my mirror, I saw her trying to read the map. When we left in the morning, I showed her where on the map to find the distance and the length of the trip. So she proudly announced we had ten miles until sea world. When I asked her how long that was, she said, “I don’t know. It’s what the map says.”
Arriving at Sea World manifested the loudest squeal I’ve heard from my daughter. She pressed her beluga against the window, pointing at the billboard with the beluga whale. We entered the gates and headed toward the beluga whale exhibit. We earned a few funny looks because I wore a sweater, and Adelyn asked me to help her zip her hoodie while it was nearly 80 degrees outside.
As we walked up the ramp of the wild arctic exhibit, we heard this strange yell. As we got closer to the first enclosure, we discovered that the bizarre sounds came from Adelyn’s favorite sea animal, the beluga whale. I don’t think we could have timed it better if we had tried to. We showed up just as the trainers were feeding the whale. For the next forty-five minutes, we sat and watched as the trainers worked with the whales. At one point, Adelyn asked if her baby brother was a beluga because he made the same weird sounds when he was happy. The trainers had them dive deep, swim on their backs, and do vocal tricks for extra fish. When they floated on their backs, the beluga looked strangely human. I was later told that their cries sounded human underwater. It made me wonder if belugas were partly to blame for mermaid lore. As the whales came close, Adelyn would hold her stuffie over the net so they could see it. I warned her not to drop it in the water, and she said it would be okay because then her whale would be home with its mommy.
I don’t know how I felt about that. Adelyn had made up her beluga’s life story as we drove to Sea World. She said that its daddy was killed, the bad people captured its mommy, and the baby was abandoned. That was until we adopted it, and the baby whale came to live with us. When I asked why her mommy was at Sea World, she said it was because the baby people hurt the mommy, and she couldn’t live by herself anymore.
I have no idea where this child gets her imagination from.
After leaving the beluga whales, we passed the harbor seal. It wasn’t very active. It was lying on its side, sleeping. Adelyn asked me if it was dead. I told her it was most definitely not dead, and if she looked closely, she would see it making silly mouth movements. She said, “aw, he’s boring when sleepy,” and we moved on to the walrus, who was the opposite of boring. Every time we’ve seen the walrus, they were lying around or being a cork in the water; however, today, they were zooming around their enclosure. Adelyn kept giggling at how big and fast they could move.
We left the arctic and headed to Sesame Street, where Adelyn could ride all the rides. While I have a very adventurous little girl, she is tiny and can not ride the big kids’ rides. She immediately ran to the Slimy the worm ride and waited in line. She did really well as we waited. Looking around the area, she saw the roller coaster. She wasn’t sure how she felt about the ride. Mind you, the last time we went to Sea World, she rode it four times. After we rode the Slimy ride, we headed over to the roller coaster. Adelyn told me the line was too long, so we moved on. We walked around Sesame street, headed towards the characters where she also didn’t want to wait, and sooner than I expected, we were leaving.
It was about a half hour until the Orca show, and I wanted to get a good seat. So we headed into the empty theater and headed to the center. She looked at the lower seats as we climbed and asked why we didn’t sit there. I told her that the area was the splash zone, and she scrunched her nose at me. While we watched the show, she was grumpy with me. But as the splashes got bigger, her eyes widened, and she told me, “mommy, they are so wet! And they smell like fish.” She was no longer upset with our decision to sit a little higher.
After the Orca show, she asked if we could return to the belugas. I had no problem with that. The trip was meant for us to do what she wanted, and if seeing the beluga would make her happy, then why not. When we got up to the exhibit, she noticed something was missing… The whales. I suggested we go downstairs. Maybe they were playing underwater. As we passed the seal’s enclosure, it was empty. The walruses had trainers in their enclosure feeding them. Adelyn skipped the walruses and the seal and headed straight to the belugas. But instead of the giant white whales, one sassy fat seal was swimming around. The look on Adelyn’s face was priceless.
“How did they escape?” she asked as the seal swam by the window.
I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t know how or where the two giant whales went.
As we left the wild arctic for the second time, she made up a story about how the belugas traded space with the seal because she needed more room to swim and that the belugas wanted to take a nap without people watching them.
We spent the rest of the day walking around and watching the animals. It was so fun to see how excited she was to see animals she loves watching documentaries about.
Before we left, she asked if we could go back to Sesame Street land to ride the carousel. As we waited in line, Adelyn noticed the little girl behind us. The little girl had been trying to talk to her mom, but the mom was too busy on her phone. I also noticed her trying to tell her mom what horse she wanted to ride and her favorite character. But as the child talked, her excitement faded. The mom never responded. She was scrolling through her phone, looking at TikTok. Adelyn, being the five-year-old that she is, loudly asked, “why is the little girl so sad?” I told her I didn’t know. But before I could ask her to keep her voice down, she boldly suggested, “maybe her mom should put her phone away.”
I think I turned five shades of red. I don’t know why this mom was on her phone. Maybe she needed a mental break, but when you hear to put your phone away from a stranger, a child, for that matter, it’s rough.
Thankfully, our turn to ride came up, and we boarded the carousel. Adelyn picked the orange horse because “it’s my favorite color.” It’s not my favorite. I hate orange, but it’s an inside joke with my family now. As the carousel went around, the mom took pictures. The little girl waved at her dad, and Adelyn told me she missed her dad. I asked if she missed her big brother, and she did yes. I asked her if she missed her baby brother, and she said, “I would if he was a sister.” The phone mom laughed at Adelyn’s response. I asked her, “Really, you don’t miss Bennett.” and Adelyn said, “yes, I miss him too. But why does he sound like a beluga whale?” I didn’t have an answer for her.
I told her it was time to go, and she asked if we could ride the roller-coaster, and I said sure. We waited in line, and she was bouncing off the walls. I could tell she was tired. When she’s tired, she gets fidgety. We climbed into our car, and she yawned. “Mommy, I’m going to go to sleep.”
“on a roller-coaster?” I asked.
She closed her eyes and leaned her head on my arms. “yeeeees, ” she said with a smile.
The ride started, and she opened her eyes. We quickly went around the track. As we rounded the corner at the end of the ride, she had a giant smile. She looked at me and said, “Okay, we can go home now.”
Walking out of Sesame Street for the second time, she held onto my hand and closed her eyes. “I’m sleepwalking,” she told me with a silly grin.
I picked her up and carried her gaps way over the bridge. But my child is a horrible kola. She doesn’t hold on. She is just dead weight. When I put her down, she whined about walking and how far the car was. She asked why we couldn’t just sleep next to the whales.
By the time we got to the car, I think I was dragging her. She kept pretending to sleep while standing. Once we made our way home, she told me it was too cold… Even though she had two blankets. I called my husband and told him about our day and that we were on our way home. After I hung up, I looked into the rearview mirror and saw the grumpiest face. “What?” I asked.
“I can’t sleep when people are talking. I need stories. “
I laughed, “isn’t that the same thing.”
“No, because stories are fake, and when you’re talking to daddy, it isn’t fake.”
I rolled my eyes and turned on her playlist. In about five minutes, she passed out. With no one to talk to, I switched the songs to my playlist, and for the next two hours, I loudly and horribly sang to every song.