Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Second Time Around

It was August and I was 22.  My husband John and I met a lovely couple who were visiting San Francisco and they invited us to visit them in British Columbia, Victoria, to be exact.

We were looking forward to our road trip, despite having a year old baby with us.  It would have never occurred to me to leave my son with anyone.  He was the most important person in my life from the moment of his birth.

We drove from San Francisco to Portland where we spent the night with a relative of my husband's.  The next morning we drove on up to Washington State and drove on to a ferry headed to Victoria, British Columbia.  The baby gurgled and smiled at us as we all admired the scenery and the ocean waves.

We arrived mid-day and called our friends who gave us directions to their home.  We were very happy to see them and looking forward to a really fun week.  Jim and Edna were an "older couple", meaning that they may have been 50.  (When I was 22, anyone older than 30 seemed like a grandparent.)  They showed us to our room and everything was charming and comfortable.  Jim and Edna said they had a surprise for us.

After we got settled, and the baby was left sleeping on our bed, we joined them in the living room where they had prepared cocktails for us all!  They said they were going to make us very happy and looked at each other and sort of giggled.  "Oh come on!  Tell us!" I begged.

"Well," said Jim, "We realized that having a baby with you would be an inconvenience and keep you from being able to relax and have fun.  So we have paid for a Children's Hotel for the baby for the week!"  I was struck dumb (as in speechless, not stupid) and must have had a very peculiar look on my face.  My husband said "Oh my God!  What a great idea!  How can we ever thank you enough!" and pretended not to notice that I was looking at all of them with daggers in my eyes.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I did hire the occasional babysitter for my son.  I did leave him for an hour or two occasionally when I couldn't avoid it.  But I'm in frigging Canada where two people I've only barely met are talking about sticking my baby in a kennel for a week.  And my so-called husband is "fine" with it.

I stormed out of the room and went to the bedroom where my baby was sleeping.  I must of slammed the door because my son awoke and started crying.  I picked him up and tried to calm him down, although I may have needed calming down more than he did.  My husband came in the room and said "What is wrong with you?  These people have done something really nice for us, and you are acting like an ass!"  I joined my son in crying at that point and told my husband I would never forgive him if he didn't take us out of there right that minute.  I just wanted to go back home.  John put his arm around me and said "Oh let's just try it for a day.  Then if you still feel upset, we'll go get the baby and either stay in a hotel or go back home."  I was trying very hard to be reasonable so I agreed.

When we came back out to join our hosts, Edna assured me that the children's hotel was run by two very nice British nurses and that the place was very highly regarded.  I tried to smile and act reasonable over the whole thing, but I really wasn't going for any of it.  I wished that Edna, Jim, and my husband would also somehow magically drop dead.  But alas, they didn't.  In fact, I was told that "It's all arranged.  We'll drop the baby off at 4:00 PM and then go out for a bite."  I cannot describe the horror I felt as I clutched my first born son even tighter in my arms with tears running down my face.

The three of them seemed a bit amused by my rage, but we went on to the "children's hotel" at the appointed time and dropped off my son with people I didn't know from Adam.  I hated their British accents.  I hated seeing the place out in the country where the two British nurses would be attending to my baby.  I was not allowed to tour the facility but everyone assured me it was quite nice and I wondered what they did with the kids dropped there.  I had seen kennels.  I would have never left my dog at a kennel.  Was this place the same principle?   Oh who the hell knows.

The entire week was a living nightmare for me.  We went salmon fishing.  We went to the beautiful Empress Hotel for lunch.  I saw the magnificent Canadian Mounties mounted.  We went to pubs and restaurants. If I had not been so horribly distraught, I would have loved the place.

I went from teary to bitchy with every waking hour.  I'm sure I wore on everybody's patience.  Being a complete pain in the ass to everyone all the time is exhausting.  When we finally picked up my son at the end of the week, he had a runny nose.  I was enraged.  Two British nurses couldn't keep my son from catching a cold?

So I'm going to Victoria, British Columbia again in a couple of days.  This time will be better.