December 31, 2013: Bad Parenting Story #2

The boys after surviving our Christmas Eve road trip
This story serves as a follow-up "bad parenting story" from my last blog post. Since the kids in my previous story were not my own, I thought I better come clean on my own parenting prowess.

When the boys were young, we would spend time over our Christmas breaks skiing in Colorado. The days of our stay would vary, dependent on family schedules. On this particular year, we chose to ski the week before Christmas. The plan was to drive home on Christmas Eve. This would get us home for the Lane extended family gathering on Christmas Day.

Our ski trips would many times involve other families. Russ and Robbie were with us on this trip. Following a great week of skiing, we packed up Christmas Eve morning. We set off on our road trip with happy thoughts of landing in the warmth of our homes by late afternoon. Plenty of time to enjoy this special night and prepare for our Nebraska Christmas.

As is typical with the mountainous climates, the weather did not cooperate with our wishes. It was a snowy, slow ride down the mountain with delays at the tunnels. Outside of Denver proved as equal of a challenge with both snow and holiday traffic. We found ourselves in darkness by the time we hit the lonely Interstate byway through Nebraska.

Doing a time check, we knew it was going to be a late arrival home. Robbie and I assured each other that a cozy restaurant off the Interstate would be found and open. Although it was Christmas Eve, our rationale was that surely the truckers would need to be accommodated. We were certain we would find a midway food stop that would have charm and be part of a memorable family Christmas Eve meal together.

Rolling done the Interstate, we quickly surmised that most everything was closed, including many gas stations. As Robbie and I concerned ourselves with feeding the children, the men were more worried about the availability of gas stops.

Soon we came to the conclusion that our special dinner would need to come from the options offered at a gas station. The boys were beyond hungry and we just wanted to get home.

We pulled into a Sinclair in the middle of nowhere. As the kids rifled through microwavable options in the Chuck Wagon freezer, I watched in disbelief. It was Christmas Eve. As other parents snuggled in with their children in front of their fireplace after a warm meal, mine were choosing between all-day slow cooked hot dogs and a Hot Pocket.

Ben has always had a little problem with food aversions. He still has them at age seventeen. But at age eight, he would barely eat a thing. Any food with a less-than-desirable texture, smell, or look would make Ben's stomach turn. His response of throwing up was a common occurrence.

Evidently, if a Hot Pocket is not heated up completely, the orange cheese does not melt. It stays in semi-hard, cold lumpy state. Biting into this under-cooked dinner caused an immediate reaction of Ben throwing up into the nearest trash can. The one set next to the gas station microwave. Ben opted to try his Pocket right away rather than wait for the car ride. A blessing in hindsight.

I discovered this food malfunction by Zach screaming from the Gardetto aisle. "MOM, Ben's barfing in the back of the gas station!!"

So I did what any good mom would do. I took the empty Hot Pocket sleeve to the cashier and paid for the item that never made it out of the store. I quickly explained to the confused lady what all the ruckus was about in the back. She smiled in understanding. Obviously my story was nothing new. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and then Robbie and I just roared in laughter. You can't make this stuff up.

Ben chose a bottled water to complete his meal. No more Chuck Wagons or Hot Pockets for Benny Lane. A four hour wait for food was worth his comfort in the frozen chicken strips at home. 

Once again, as is typical in our life, Ben put his fingerprint on this moment in time. What would have been a laughable story for the next couple of years turned into a story told each Christmas, year after year.

"Remember the year Mom made us eat Hot Pockets from a gas station on Christmas Eve and Ben barfed?"

Yep, that's me. As other mothers are complimented for their prime rib and mashed potato traditions, my kids tell their friends about their Christmas Eve microwaved adventure. Uncle. I have now surrendered my Christmas Eve's to the Lane's.

This year the boys and I celebrated Christmas early. We went to the Outback. Ben had a burger and we had no food malfunctions.



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