Our Day At The Railway Museum - A True Story

And So the Day Begins ....

Our Day at the Railway

We packed up the kids in the van and took them to the Railway Museum today.  You see, it was a special day at the museum today as it was Teddy Bear day.  Each child was to bring their favorite teddy bear along for a ride on the old diesel train.  Did I forget to mention that there was also a pancake breakfast?  Of course, no family could pass this up….or could they?

We have four little ones, all girls and ages 2, 3, 4 and 5 so just getting ready to go on any outing is a major undertaking.  Did we pack the juice – check.  Did we pack the sippy cups – check.  Did we pack the diapers and pull-ups – check.  Did we remember to bring a snack – check. 

Another challenge is managing to find four pairs of matching socks and get them on matching feet.  O.k. kids, pick your favorite teddy bears…no, not those big ones, just pick out of these ty bears so they won’t be too cumbersome to carry.  Of course they can’t decide which one is their favorite and everyone wants one that somebody else has chosen.  Go figure.

Send J to the washroom.  Send H to the washroom.  Send H again to the washroom, as she forgot why she was going the first time. 

After struggling to get four pairs of shoes on four sets of little feet, mom and dad are out of breath.

Don’t run out the door yet kids, we’re not ready.  Mom and Dad still need to go to the washroom. 

Ok kids, you can wait outside on the deck now ….. Slam goes the door, just as we are yelling to them to not go in to the little inflatable swimming pool in the back yard…too late…H is soaking wet and crying outside.  Bring H back in the house, take her wet clothes off, dry her off and find her a new set of clothes to wear.  Mom and Dad are exhausted now, but remember they haven’t even left the house yet.

Mom looks for the camera..and then remembers that the camera isn’t working any more.  Looks for the other camera, can’t find it.  Oh well, we won’t take any pictures this time.

Out the door,  we are finally off.  Kids running and tripping with parents running and tripping behind them. 

In to the van in such a commotion.   Three of the little ones want the same car seat.  Oh well, at least we know where the five year old is sitting, she no longer needs a car seat.  Do up the buckles, put on the DVD player (we never had such luxuries back in the day), turn up the volume on the DVD player. 

We are finally out of the driveway.  Mom is at the wheel and Dad is navigating.  Wait a minute, forget that direction…we need to go and put some gas in the van first or we won’t be going anywhere.  That taken care of and we  are now off.  Geesh, will they even be serving pancake breakfast by the time we get there?  Maybe the place will be closed by now.

Dad tells mom turn here..no there..no at the next light…not that one.  Mom growls at dad and tells him that he is supposed to know where they are going.  Are you sure you know where we are going?  Trust me..ha…that’s a good one.

Here we are in the middle of nowhere going down an old gravel road.  Are you sure this is the way to get to the railway museum?  Yes, dear..trust me..there we go again.

You know dear, what does your speedometer say?  If you’re comfortable with it, you could drive a little faster, crank it up a bit!  But I’m not comfortable with it, dust flying around everywhere and the van hard to steer in this stuff.  For a brief moment I think to myself, I’ll show him, but quickly decide against it, since we have the kids in the car.

I see a cow..no it’s a horse..what is it mommy?  I can’t look..I’m driving or at least trying to.

Turn up the volume, one squeals, I can’t hear the movie.  Well, if you stop squealing, you will be able to hear the movie.  Doesn’t work, so we turn up the volume.

At last we see a sign that says we are heading the right direction and that the railway museum is not far now.  More dirt roads, dust and there sure is no other traffic, you’d think there would be lots of people heading to the teddy bear festivities, pancake breakfast and all.

We finally pull in and see three vehicles parked on the grass.  Tough decision to decide where to park, but we finally pick a spot because we don’t want to get stuck in the lot with all the cars there, so pick one that will be easy to leave from.

Where is everybody?  No one at the gate.  No sign of anybody.  We look at our cell phone to check the time…yep, it’s well past ten now, pancake breakfast was to start at ten.  I’m hungry mommy..where’s the pancakes.  I’ll have syrup on mine and sausages and….Wait a minute, we haven’t even found the pancake hut yet.

Once we locate the dwelling place of the illusive pancake makers, there is an elderly gentleman sitting at a table.  He looks at us and the kids and says three adult fares..How did he figure that out, the sign says it is free for anyone five and under.  We tell him that the oldest child is five and the rest are under…but he insists that we pay for three adult fares…ok..we’ll go with it, but……

The place is filling up now.  There is one other family there,….or maybe it’s two families sitting all together at one table.  The smells of the sausages and pancakes fill the air and the two elderly ladies and one elderly man seem to be having a fine time of flipping the cakes while making jokes to each other.  (ha..probably at our expense..saying look at those old fools with the four little kids…poor kids). 

I try to get the kids to sit down at one of the tables, but once again, they all want the same seat.  I’ll stay with the kids Dad and you can go and get the fixings (for all 6 of us)  He only has two hands, but I don’t care, he can manage somehow.  Don’t forget the napkins…and the plastic forks and the plastic knives..and

H. is just so thrilled because she gets a hold of a plastic knife…they never let me have a knife she thinks and grins to herself.  Daddy I can cut my own..ok H.  H’s efforts were pretty hilarious and she never could manage to cut the pancakes, so Dad does it for her.  He tries to show her how to hold the fork and knife to cut, but to no avail.  Dads are sure weird at times, she thinks.

So, now we are settling in to eat our breakfast.  Life is good, butter, syrup and all.  Mom brings the juice in the Styrofoam cups (should have used those plastic sippy cups they packed).  H…don’t spill your juice.   I won’t, she says as she spills her juice all over the table.  A (the 3 year old) is busy biting her Styrofoam cup…hmm..tastes good she thinks..better than the pancakes. 

Oh man, the train is moving so slowly.  Just went around in a circular motion, Mom started to feel motion sickness coming on.  J says we’re here and Mom thinks good, cause I’m not feeling so well.  Wait a minute, the train has stopped but no one is getting off, just more passengers boarding and slowly, ever so slowly it starts its way again around the circle.  Moan, Mom really isn’t enjoying this.

After what seemed to be an eternity, the train really does stop, not a moment too soon for Mom.  We all make our way off the train when A starts crying again, cause she is afraid to step off the train, even though Mom is holding her and Dad is waiting with arms outstretched at the bottom Sticky hands, syrup in the hair, topped off with greasy sausages.  This is living. 

We finally finish our breakfast…well H went back for seconds to the delight of the cooks who keep insisting everyone have more.  Did I mention that one other couple came in by now to join the crowds of people?  Step right up sir, get your pancakes.  We’ll have to charge adult fees for that three year old you brought, because I think he is really a midget and is 25.  Nice try, but you have to pay the fees that the old guy sitting at the card table asks for.

We finally finish our food.  Dad even manages to get a coffee in and smiles at his feat.  H has to go to the washroom…ok…I’ll take her this time.  Now what?

Well the train should be here by now.  The sign says it leaves at 11:30 and its 11:27 so c’mon kids, let’s get our places, we don’t want to miss the train.  It’s hot, it’s sunny and it’s also windy. 

We sit at the old bench, picturing years gone by, imagining the people coming and going to the train station to buy their tickets.  A few more people have arrived.  The air is full of excitement, with people looking at their watches waiting for the train to arrive.

We wait.  And we wait some more.  Kids start whining, not just ours, but all the kids.  We try to keep ours sitting on the bench, at least we have a seat..some people don’t. 

A toddler runs down the train track with his dad chasing him.  Lucky he doesn’t fall, neither does the little one. 

A little guy with a strong British accent is getting fidgety and tired of waiting.  He wants the train and he wants it now.

Keep sitting on the bench kids.  You’re doing good H..sit down H…no climbing H…sit down H.   The train will come.

We wait and we wait and we wait some more.  People start to look troubled but others just seem used to the slow, meandering way things were back when.  The train will get here when it gets here, but will it get here?

Doubts arise.  It’s ok..kids, we can sit here a spell longer.  Let’s take a look in the museum gift shop.  Doors locked, sign says it should be open, but it’s locked.  Let’s sit down on the bench again. 

We wait.  We wait some more.

Want a pop from the pop machine Dad asks Mom.  No, we won’t be able to take it on the train, that elusive train that hasn’t arrived yet, so we better not get one.  Ok, says Dad, but I’m thirsty, thought we could use a cold drink..No Mom says, No means no.  Dad remains thirsty.  Keeps looking at the pop machine.

We wait, Kids get restless.  They’ve done well so far. Even H.  Especially H.  Finally someone comes and opens up the door.  Yeah, we think, the gift shop must be opening, we had told the kids they could each pick a present to buy. 

Wrong..gift shop is still closed.  A dear little old lady feebly calls out  Everyone’s teddy bear needs a name tag.  Come inside and get a name tag.  What’s your bear’s name?  What?  We don’t have names for our bears so we’d better make some up soon, because the dear soul is smiling and waiting.  She is so excited at the prospect.  First she asks how to spell the name, H picks her own name, that is how creative she is..but the dear lady can’t hear me spelling it for her even though I’ve repeated it several times.  She finally gets frustrated and gives me the pen and name tags and tells me to write my own tags.  Ok…but we don’t’ have any names decided on…I’ll just make them up and tell the kids these are the names.  I did let J chose a name, I just chose the other two names for the little ones. They kept switching name tags on the bears anyways.  That was their game and it kept them occupied for a little while anyways.  

Finally, we hear the train whistle blowing and see the train is almost here.  A sigh of relief from all the frustrated parents with frustrated children.  We line up to board the train.  A, our 3 year old, starts screaming hysterically.  Daddy and the other three have already boarded the train, leaving Mom with the screaming little one.  Hurry up, the passengers in the line up seem to be saying, get a move on.  How rude is she, trying to force a screaming child to board a train, obviously the child doesn’t want to go on, she’s scared stiff.  Oh well, Mom lifts her up and staggers up the steps but not before dropping one of the bags she is holding.  A nice man picks up the bag and offers it to her. 

Wail, wail, wail, the wailing continues as Mom and A get seated on the train.  After a time, the feeble lady appears, asking to see the teddy bears.  She seems upset that one of the name tags has fallen off one bear and is lost.  She stumbles around for a while and finally finds a pen in her pocket and insists that the baby be given a new name tag.  Meanwhile a railway employee tries to hurry her along in her conductor duties, reminding her that others are waiting and she needs to check the tickets.  We finally manage to get a new name tag written and the elderly lady slowly saunters off.  We hear her in the next cabin, asking for tickets to punch a hole in them and we think oh, she didn’t ask us for any tickets, which by now she has remembered and come back again to attempt to punch six tickets with shaking hands.  After a time, she has succeeded in getting the tickets punched and meanders on down the train.

The diesel train finally moves, slowly, very slowly.  J is excited and says wow, it’s going so fast.  Weird thing is that she meant it, and it was hardly moving.  I would say a tricycle could move faster than the train was going.  A stops crying and laughs when she hears the train whistle blowing.  She is much more relaxed now and moves the heavy curtain to peer out the window. 

of the steps.  Phewf, we made it…or at least we thought we did, cause here comes the older woman coaxing all the kids and teddy bears to line up and join the promenade.  Promenade? I think to myself…I haven’t heard that word for many, many years, decades?  So, our fun wasn’t over yet, we were to walk behind her and the walk changed to a march, as the woman led the way.  Of course, two of our little ones needed us to hold their hands during this march, so Mom and Dad were coerced into marching around the tables too, not just once but the leader of the pack decided we all should do it again.  Then she abruptly turns around and instructs the kiddies and teddy bears to take a bow, and then to take two bows.  Ok, this is done Mom and Dad think.  WRONG.  Now the elderly, frail little old woman is telling the kids to curtsey, but she can’t quite do it herself, so she’s trying to verbally explain to the kids what a curtsey is and tells them all to curtsey, not once of course, but twice.  The old woman sure did seem in her glory though and I’m sure she was reminiscing about the days long ago when she was a little girl partaking in a teddy bear promenade and marching and curtseying. 

Phewf, we can go to the gift shop, let the kids pick some souvenirs and head home, Mom and Dad thought. WRONG, the old lady thought, this fun is just beginning, now we are marching off to the Grand Teddy Bear Picnic on the dining car.  Well, we do march as far as the entrance to the dining train, but then we side step it out of the way and let the other little munchkins have the teddy bear picnic fun. 

We head to the gift shop which, surely by now, will be open.  WRONG.  Still a rope barring your entrance and saying closed.  OK Kids, we’ll take you somewhere else so you can pick out and buy gifts.  Ok, they won’t necessarily be train gifts but you can pick a present anyways. 

By now all the kids and the big kids Mom and Dad are tired and hot and hungry and thirsty again.  But wait, we haven’t reached the car yet, the car...where is it again?  So we try to walk to the parking lot, but there is the train blocking our way, and the engineer is saying something about a problem with the brakes and that they should check all the brakes again.  So we wait, and we wait some more….and we wait some more, thinking surely the train will move soon.  WRONG.

The old engineer finally looks at us and asks what we are doing there.  Did we get lost?  Aren’t we supposed to be at the Teddy Bear Picnic?  No, I say, we’ll have to miss the picnic cause we have company coming (not really a lie, we were expecting family but later in the day).  Well, I can’t move the train the guy says, and finally he points to one of the train cars and tells us that we’ll have to climb up and over that car but there is no stool this time to help us step up to it.  Once again, Dad goes first with the first three kids, no problem.  Mom goes to take A up and A starts wailing and crying again cause there is no darn way she wants to go way up there and down the other side again.  With a wobble, Mom finally musters up the strength to hold screaming A in her arms and lift her  (barely, I might add) on to the first step which was quite a ways up for Mom and A cause they are both short.  Getting down off the other side was another event we could live without and Dad proceeds to offer to help lift A down and she is crying and crying and screaming and afraid to let Mom let go of her to hand her to waiting Dad’s arms.

But that’s not the end.  When we finally step down and proceed to walk to our car, there is a dad with three of his little children and teddy bears.  Obviously, he took them to get something from the car and his wife was still waiting for him, but, you guessed it,…he can’t get back in because that darn old train is there blocking his way.  We still wonder if he ever did make it back in to meet his wife with the kids or if they are bickering about it or worse, to this day.

So, that is our adventure to the railway museum.  We come back tired, hot, hungry and oh yes, the road directions and Dad critiquing Mom’s driving and Mom getting madder by the minute.  Don’t forget we still have to take the kids somewhere to eat and somewhere to buy the presents that we promised them…….That didn’t go so smoothly either, but that, as they say, is another story.

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