We spent the past weekend in Whitstable in Kent. To picture Kent, imagine if the Jersey Shore had babies with the Hamptons, then sent them off to a British boarding school. It was full of run-down shabby beach shacks and castles and art galleries and really overpriced boutiques selling necklaces made of safety pins? I don’t know, there’s a lot about this country that confuses me.
We planned the trip to top off Shane’s parents’ last visit to the UK before their Axis of Evil tour kicked off on Monday. Virtually the only way for Shane to get out of work mode is for us to get out of London, so off to Whitstable it was! We had an incredibly fabulous time, beginning with a trip to a fried fish shack on the beach that also served fried doughnuts (donuts? is the “ugh” pretentious?).
We also went to Canterbury and saw the sites. The Canterbury Cathedral (where Cardinal Thomas Becket was brutally murdered) was a bit inappropriate for the kids, what with all of the solemn religious sites where everyone had to be silent.
Luckily, Grandpa Steve was able to distract the children by removing them from the tour during the part of the story where we heard about St. Thomas’ brutal partial beheading at the hands of King Henry II’s soldiers. Instead, they were treated to a lovely parable from another tour guide about a bunch of little boys who were harassing frogs until one of the frogs threw something at the boys, causing one to drown and die in the arms of his distraught parents, all as depicted on the stained glass panels in the church. So now, instead of being slightly disturbed that a medieval king sent his minions to kill a political rival, the kids are fucking terrified of frogs. Wins all around.
The next day we saw the Dover Castle, which was really quite amazing. I love a good castle and this, my friends, is an EPIC castle.
Dover is also home to the famous white cliffs. Want to know something super surprising, yet totally logical if you think about it? It is virtually impossible to actually see the white cliffs of Dover from Dover, what with being on top of them and all. Someone should think about installing a large mirror about 200 yards offshore.
In addition to all the sightseeing, my fabulous mother and father-in-law watched the kids for us two nights in a row. Generally, “date nights” are reserved for social events that don’t give us much time to actually talk to each other, but for two whole nights we got to have conversations about everything, from his work, to our kids, to my random desire to become a stand-up comedian (slightly bizarre, yes, but I’ve been listening to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast non-stop for the past 6 months and I’m inspired; Shane should just be happy I haven’t been listening to 50 Roads to Rome).
At one point, I was telling him how much it has improved my life to have him take the kids to school for me, which he has been doing for the past few weeks. I am an anxious mess when I am worried about being late to something, and the morning commute brought this out in spades (I’m sure no one would be more surprised to hear this than my brother, who thought his name was “Goddamnit, Jimmy!” for the year that I was responsible for driving him to middle school on my way to high school).
Like annoying little litmus strips, the children seemed to sense this anxiety and would turn into completely insane monkeys that couldn’t tie their own shoes, or needed (NEEDED) to switch socks 13 million times, or forgot how to put a goddamn shirt on the correct way. Then I would scream and they would cry and I would apologize and my entire day would start off horribly. Every. Single. Day.
But my life is entirely different now that Shane is taking the kids and I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t ruining his day as it had been ruining mine. In typical fashion, he is completely unfazed by the annoyances of taking them to school. The only thing that bothers him, it turns out, is Poppy’s drop-off behavior.
“Yeah, it’s just so unnerving when she does that thing at drop-off where she cries hysterically until she finally goes to sit in a teacher’s lap, at which point she stares at you with dead, angry eyes, and refuses to say goodbye or respond to any requests for a wave, at the very least, until finally you have to leave the room while she continues to stare blankly like a horribly troubled Mona Lisa.”
Yeah, that right there is a completely new thing. We’ll be keeping an eye out for any other “Portrait of the Stripper as a Young Woman” situations, should they arise.