It was a simple plan, really it was. No preparation necessary, no cameras, no fuss, and really no bother. It was going to be fun, festive, and full of family cheer…even for a family unaccustomed to the uneventful. But before it really even got started, it all fell apart. And so it was – the night of the epic fail…
So this was the plan: it was Friday afternoon, deep in the heart of the Texas Christmas Season and the Jones family was ready for some Christmas cheer…well, the Jones parents were in the mood at least. My first priority was to shut down my work day in time to scoop up the family and head out for the night. Some clients of mine who live in the neighborhood (less than five minutes from our home) are Steiner Ranch’s version of the Griswold’s…and I’m not exaggerating when I say that. Their light display boasts over 90,000 lights with light effects and displays that synchronize to holiday music…it is completely out of control!! Every year when the light display is ready, “The Griswold’s” have a holiday party to show off their work. So the plan was simple: head over to see the light display, have some holiday treats, say hello to a few friends, then shuffle back to the car, drive around the neighborhood to look at the other light displays, and head back home to put the kids down and ease into a quiet evening with my lady. Simple, right? Out of the house for maybe two hours, not traveling more than about 2 miles, see lots of Christmas lights (always a kid favorite, right?!), load the kids up on some Christmas candy, keep them out just a bit past their bedtime so they would fall asleep easy…PIECE OF CAKE!!! Did I mention that it all fell apart?
So we’re at the Holiday party checking out the lights and not ten minutes have passed when the trouble began. Eliot came to me complaining of an upset stomach…a really bad upset stomach that needed pretty immediate attention, if you know what I mean. Let’s mark that as Problem Event #1 in our Evolution of an Epic Fail timeline. Ok, no problem…we’ve dealt with 5 stomach bugs at a time we can handle this and probably salvage the night. So we gather up the gang, barely waving goodbye as we race to the car, and I start piling everyone in. At this point we’re in a rush so I grab any kid and pop them in any seat available. And here we mark Problem Event #2. Britton gets car sick so she always sits in the middle row middle seat right next to Eliot to help prevent any tummy trouble. So when I grabbed Lila and put her in Britton’s seat I made a mistake that would prove to be fatal. Britton immediately noticed that she was not going to get her usual spot and as you all know Britton’s flare for the dramatic, she blew her top brighter than any Christmas display we saw that night! Well, sorry Britton, but we’ve got to go and we can’t take the time to switch kids to different seats. And you guessed it: mark that as Problem Event #3!
In spite of the trouble, we manage to get the kids in their seats, buckled up tight and ready for the mad dash home so we can take care of Eliot. Britton is exorcising a few demons from deep within her soul, but that’s nothing new so the only real trouble at the time was the urgent need to get Eliot back to the house. We’re less than five minutes away so we’ve got this, no worries, and believe it or not we made it home without any new trouble events! Our hope was that Eliot would make a quick recovery and our night could be salvaged so the plan was to keep the kids in the car with me while Casey ran in with Eliot to tend to her stomach trouble. Mark the optimistic parental hope down as Problem Event #4. Casey runs in with Eliot, I’m in the car with the 5, Britton’s hair must be on fire the way she is carrying on, but that’s nothing new so things appear to be somewhat stable for the moment. Not so fast, my friends…
Problem Event #5 happens unexpectedly when I turn on some music in the car – nothing crazy, just some acoustic guitars…pretty light stuff. But Ryan comments immediately that she doesn’t like it. What? That’s strange…there is really nothing not to like about the music and the kids have never had any issue with the music I play in the car so what gives? I more or less ignore Ryan about the music, but she decides that she really does not like the music and wants me to turn it off. I tell her that it’s not going to happen at which point some of the flames from Britton’s burning hair apparently jumped onto Ryan’s head and set her ears on fire because she starts screaming her head off and again insisting that I turn the music off. AND THEN, Jack starts throwing a fit because he DOES NOT want the music turned off!! We’ll go ahead and mark that as Problem Event #6. Up next: Problem Event #7…not to be outdone by her brother and sisters, Lila decides to get in on the action by kicking off one of her boots then immediately decrying the injustice of not having a boot on both feet by stretching the outer limits of the human vocal chord.
So just to recap: Eliot is inside with Casey having God knows what kind of issues, Britton’s skin has apparently turned itself inside out, exposing every pain nerve in her body to the elements, Ryan’s ear drums are about to explode because of the acoustic classical guitar music I’m playing softly in the car, Jack is boldly sticking up for his daddy’s musical affinity but doing so quite vocally and with a great deal of anguish, and Lila’s screams of bootless terror are haunting the damned residing beyond the seventh gate of Hades…and we haven’t been out of the house 30 minutes.
But what about Brooklyn, you say? Ah yes, Brooklyn…sweet, sweet Brooklyn. God love that little girl! Brooklyn is my own personal eye of the storm in this less-than-festive moment of cacophony. Sweet Baby B is just sitting there, calmly surveying the scene, and casually ignoring the chaos. When I manage to make eye contact with her (speaking to each other is clearly not an option with the amount of noise emanating from the mouths of the babes in our car), she just smiles at me sweetly as if the world has never been a happier place. GOD. LOVE. THAT. GIRL!!
In the 2 years, 11 months, and 2 days that these five beautiful babies have bettered our lives, it can rarely be said that Casey or I had absolutely no control over any situation with the kids. That can’t be said for the event being experienced at that very moment. I was utterly helpless to calm the situation so I just sat there smiling at Brooklyn and pretending that I was in her world of butterflies and blue skies, far, far, far away from the mayhem that had taken possession of our family…
This goes on for a good four hours (or maybe 20 minutes, but who can keep count when the gates of Hell have obviously opened up a portal to our world right there in your vehicle??). However long it was, Casey and Eliot finally emerge from the house, apparently with Eliot feeling much better and ready to resume our evening of festive cheer. And as the optimistically obtuse parents that we are, Casey and I decide to try and salvage the night by driving around the ‘hood for awhile to look at Christmas lights. At least three of the five are still apparently being ripped apart by rabid ants judging by their screams of anguish and the Quints’ bedtime has just passed, but we’ve only been out of the house an hour by this point and we are going to experience some Christmas cheer if it kills every last one of us!!! Mark that as Problem Event #8 – we lasted less than ten minutes………..We bailed and it didn’t take too much convincing. We were forced to admit that the night was officially a bust. We rushed back home, hustled the kids upstairs, put them in their jammies, and put them down to bed as quickly as possible, Eliot included.
We have had our kids on planes and trains, in Oprah’s studio chairs, and at photo shoots galore. We have experienced their lowest lows – stomach bugs, ear infections, nasty colds, and more. We have had them over-sugared, over-stimulated, and over-tired. But none of these moments in time can compare as memorably nor as challengingly to the night we simply tried to experience a little Christmas cheer. It was a simple plan, really it was…too simple perhaps. Clearly we were not prepared for what it was apparently destined to be: a quintuplet-sized, complete, and total epic fail!!
God bless and Merry Christmas!!