We got up early today. Too early for a Sunday, and with my fears of our financial ruin still deeply intact from the routing I took yesterday at the mechanic, we set off to the Baltimore Aquarium. I sluggishly walk to the car balancing the coffee, the keys, and the cigarettes like some sort of gypsy performance artist. “Are you sure?” I asked when she offered to pay the admission for the four of us. I know that we’re teammates, and that’s how we’ve been able to tackle everything else we’ve overcome, but I still have this pang of ego every time she pays for me. Even more so when she pays for my children.

See: Goodwill, Children’s clothing
See: Groceries

She smiled and said, “ Yes, you silly! I haven’t been there since I was five, and it’d be a lot of fun to be there with the kids. Now get your ass moving!” Ever the trooper, ever the motivator, ever my love.

Our first stop was to pick up the kids at their mother’s house. This is always an odd place to stop, especially with her in the car. Everyone gets uncomfortable when they get close to each other. Better to be in and out as fast as possible, I told myself. Try and keep Beth from following us back to the car. Of course the kids are only half dressed and still eating breakfast even though I’m ten minutes later than when I told her I’d be here. Of course it looks like they haven’t had a bath and Zoe’s hair is styled so horribly she looks like a character from Gummo. Of course she put the glittery gel in Henry’s hair to make him more effeminate. I take a deep breath, gather my children, and head out the door. Every time I think of the rat shit and sawdust piling up outside the cages in the front room, and the hugely piled dishes in the sink, and the overfull ash trays. I try to remember that she’s been sick, and will straighten the house up when she feels better.

See: White trash
See: Embittered ex-wives

Half way to Baltimore the kids start acting up in the back seat. Henry’s been lashing out at day care, and I finally get to see what the teachers have been complaining about. It’s a temper tantrum that ends with him kicking the back seats and punching the door. For a four year old he sure makes a lot of noise. We weather it and get parked and out of the car as fast as possible.

The Aquarium was as nice a trip as I could have imagined. The kids really enjoyed it. So did Laura. There was a seahorse exhibit that Zoe especially liked, and the dolphin show that stunned and amazed little Henry. I think I made some headway with him about his tantrums. At least I’m hoping I did. I think that I made some progress towards my feelings about us moving farther away from the kids, and me not seeing them quite so often.