I still have a LONG backlog of things to post here on what we’ve been packing into this life in England but I’m going to jump ahead to the present for a moment, while it’s still fresh in my memory. I know, novel idea, yeah?
This weekend we went to Legoland! It’s been on our list of things to do since we realized there was one just outside London but somehow whenever we have planned to go something has gotten in the way. The rain, a broken down car, a swollen lymph node, a bad knee. Finally, on Friday night we decided we just had to make it happen.
You see, Hazel and Charlie eat breath and sleep Lego. They just can’t get enough of it. They had the week off school last week to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee and when I tried to get them to go into London, or go see another castle they insisted that all they wanted to do for one whole day was play with Lego. They rejoiced when I said ok and really, they played Lego all day long. Emmeline is even getting pretty into it (when she’s not getting chastised for breaking something oh so precious one of the big kids have made).
The kids didn’t know we were going, I was intent on making it a surprise. They've seen brochures for it in various places and people have mentioned it, but whenever they’ve asked me about it I’ve told them I wasn’t sure where it was or if we could afford it. All the while fully intending to surprise them and getting more and more excited as time went on.
I was nervous all night the night before, all tense and full of dreams about them getting lost on rides. To get them out the door early in the morning I had to lie and say we were going to a really exciting ruined castle (that’s about the only thing besides Legoland that would get them up and out early on a Saturday morning). I was all jittery and sweaty as we drove closer and closer.
When we finally got to the roundabout with the huge Legoland sign Hazel said, “look, mom, Legoland is right here!” I followed our GPS right under the sign and then I started yelling at the GPS saying, “Ruthie Gonzalez! Why are you taking us this way?” (Ruthie Gonzalez is our GPS lady and she often takes us on very strange routes and has her own agenda). “This is not where we want to go!” I told her. Then Jeff and I started laughing and told the kids we were, in fact, going to Legoland. They just stared at us, unbelieving. Hazel said that in that moment she was mad that we would play such a mean joke on here because she SOOO longed to go. When it finally sunk in that we really were going they were thrilled out of their minds. It was such a fun surprise. Hazel said thank you to me about 30 times during the day (oh, my poor deprived kids! they don’t get to do things like this too much, I’m always dragging them to amazing museums and gardens and the beach and parks and castles....because of all that torture they sure do like a good old kids amusement park! I’m not sure if that’s good or bad....but that’s a topic for another day. )
We all had an amazing day there. I was surprised by how much fun I had. You just can’t help but enjoy yourself when your kids are in seventh heaven. The rides were perfect for the kids and some even thrilled me (that’s hard to do, I’m a total thrill seeker). Everyone could pretty much go on everything (expect Peter) but they let us do a parent swap so often the kids got to ride with both Jeff and me while we switched off staying with that golden little Peter. He was such a dream all day, just thrilled as could be to stand in lines and wander around and observe the world from his buggy.
Before going I had read a lot of reviews that complained about the horribly long lines. I was a bit worried about that, and they were a bit long, but I think they were my favorite part, I loved being stuck in a line with my kids with nothing to do but talk with them. Nothing to clean, no where to get them to, nothing to make them do. We just talked and played little games. Everyone was in a good mood. It was just kind of magical.
There are moments of that day that I hope I wont ever forget. For some reason I just felt really present with my kids. I was surprised by this, Legoland is the last place I expected that would happen. It was the kind of day where little moments seem to freeze and slow down. Watching Emmeline beam as she went on thrilling rides (she is quite the little dare devil!) Watching Charlie grin as he drove around his own little car in the driving school. Watching Hazel take the driving so seriously, following all the rules. Nursing peter in the middle of a patch of grass while watching Jeff and the big kids squeal with delight as they rode some Viking boat ride.
Here is Emmeline right before going to her little driving school. She was eating up the little lesson they give the kids about driving before they get into their mini cars. She lost all confidence when she actually got behind the wheel and drove straight into the little car parking lot and into a curb. Of all the other 3 year olds driving she was by far the worst. The attendant had to pull her away from the curb every foot or two. This was her least favorite ride by far, in fact it was her sad for the day. But she recovered as soon as she got to go on some crazy thrill ride. I love how my kids personalities came out in this little driving school. Charlie drove around without a care in the world. Hazel on the other hand was nearly in tears at the end because she was so nervous about getting it all right. She told me, misty eyed, after it was over that if it was a real car situation she would have probably been dead because she did so many things wrong. Then she told me that she thinks she is going to be a good teenager. I agree. Maybe the most unexpected part of the day was Emmeline’s reaction. It felt like she grew up while we were there. She went in a little kid and came home big. She had no idea what she was getting herself into. When the park opened we ran to the other end to beat the crowds and ride the new submarine ride called Atlantis. Emmeline was dazzled by all the fish and going underwater. After we were done she asked, “are we going home now?” When I laughed and said no, that we were staying all day she was thrilled. All day she was so proud of being so brave and big. When we got in the car she said, “That was such a fun day at Legoland!” As I put here to bed she was all smiles, she closed her eyes, smiled wide and said she felt like she was still swinging. I think she fell asleep with that big smile still stretched across her face. Emmeline and I (and Peter) went on a little date to the Fairy Tale brook. She ate it all up (she’s obsessed lately with Little Red Ridding Hood) except for the bits where the wolf slowly lifted up from strange places, that really freaked her out. See that wolf coming up with his scuba gear? Terrifying, obviously. We loved looking at all the Lego structures all around. Pretty creative. You nave to admit, that’s a pretty darn cool mini-London made out of Lego. I was super impressed, and also pretty happy that my kids recognized and have been to nearly every structure. We just went to the real Sacré-Coeur in Paris. I’ll post about that sometime, I hope. It was amazing. Hazel and Charlie wanted to pose here by the Lego mini Kennedy Space center. They think they’re going to be the first brother/sister pair to go into space.
Charlie told us quite a few times that this was the best day of his life. Until he thought about it and then he said that it was the second best day of his life, the first was when he was born.
Here everyone (except me and Peter) are on the last ride of the day. The kids rode it three times and got drenched.
I’m a little bit embarrassed to say that I think this might have been my kids favorite thing we have done here. Am I doing something wrong? What about all those amazingly beautiful vistas and interesting historical sites? What about the ruined castles and 1000 year old cathedrals? Sadly, when it comes down to it, what my kids crave are roller coasters and mini-London made of Legos.
It was a beautiful day. A day I know I will long for when my kids are big and have no interest in going to an amusement park with me and only want to go see stuff like amazing vistas and historical sites.