I'm writing tonight from the Holiday Inn Express in Mystic, Connecticut, a half-step up from the Best Western around the block, where we had been staying for the last couple times we'd come down to visit the aquarium here. This year, after a weekend trip to my beloved western Massachusetts, I made a solemn vow: no more staying at the absolute cheapest (decent) place in town, if only because that's where kids' sports teams and the like end up. Plenty of people my age have long since sworn off mediocre hotels. I was late to adopt the policy myself, as it seemed needlessly overindulgent. However, one night at the Comfort Inn in Hadley, MA, besieged by preteen boys with lacrosse sticks and not an adult to be seen, is all it took to solidify my resolution. Never again. I still can't justify staying at the Hilton, but two stars is no longer enough.
So here I sit, with wine and wifi; life is good. The rest of my lovely family is asleep behind me, but I'm not ready to hit the hay myself. I'm going to stay up sipping red wine till I'm bound to sleep heavily enough not to be bothered by the Bean's knees in my back, or her elbow in my gut, or whatever it turns out to be tonight. You wouldn't think it'd be such a challenge, sharing a double bed with someone not yet 50 lbs heavy and only yay tall. You'd be wrong. The Peanut is even worse... she sleeps on her back with her limbs splayed like a giant capital X. Plus she talks in her sleep -- alarming, senseless little declarations that leave you uncertain what might come next. Oh sure, she looks all kinds of cute and snuggly, with her little blankie and whatever stuffed animal is currently in highest favor. What could go wrong? Ha. I've let her share my king-sized bed at home, when Mr. Sandyshoes is traveling. Somehow I always end up cowering crosswise across the bottom of the bed, barely out of reach of her cute little feet, while visions of whatever dance in her cute little head up where mine is supposed to be.
Anyway. The girls were really hard to settle down last night... the first night of a weekend trip always seems to be a tough one... and we had to threaten them with turning around and coming right back home. That Bean just wouldn't go to sleep. This morning, the Peanut wouldn't *stay* asleep. Another thing I've learned about staying in hotels: you should always bring one of those enormous binder clips along, in case the light-blocking curtains don't completely close on their own. It's surprising how often this is a problem, what with hotel rooms being intended specifically for sleeping in. Our present room is big enough and has most of the things we need, but there's a five-foot gap between where the heavy drapes end. That's plenty of space to allow the entire bright insult of early daylight to fill the room, adding to the injury of hours spent next to one of the offspring. Naturally Mr. Sandyshoes has rigged up something ingenious to correct the curtain problem, but I'm thinking for future reference, one of those binder clips would save a lot of rigging.
Our most successful hotel sleeping strategy has been to split the girls up. They don't share a room at home, and it doesn't seem to help them settle down if they're set up right next to each other in a hotel room. So we get a room with two double beds, divide and conquer. We stack pillows so they can't look over at each other, then we say goodnight and retreat with a book to whatever space is left us in the nook between the door and the bathroom, until we're ready to go to bed ourselves. Tonight's room has quite a bit of space, so that's nice. Sometimes there isn't anywhere to go... which is why I ended up reading Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell* in the bathroom of our room at the Comfort Inn in Hadley, which actually seems sort of appropriate in retrospect.
I should sleep. More on the aquarium etc. in another post. In the meantime, what hotel chains have you found are best for staying with your kids? Any hints (besides "get a suite") for making it more restful? How about hints (besides "drug them") for settling excited kiddos?
*If even half the things Tucker Max says about himself are true, he is a genuine asshole, but a sometimes-funny one. My college roommate said she read this book and thought of me. I don't know what to make of that. I'm assuming she thought "sandy shoes will laugh at this book," not "this asshole reminds me of sandy shoes in earlier days," but I am afraid to ask.