|Our crew gives Pee Wee's Big Adventure a run for its money|
Traveling with kids is tough. We had some wonderful times and met up with friends along the way, but we made sacrifices in our itinerary. Instead of seeing the authentic Mexican market, we went to Dave & Busters; instead of touring charming pockets of town, we spent two hours at Rainforest Cafe; instead of that last margarita, we responsibly headed back to our cramped hotel room to get the boys in bed.
|William buried in Blue Bonnets|
Next up was Austin. After a day of what we thought was family fun, they complained of being bored or missing their friends. The boys fought in the middle of busy South Congress Street, causing a scene. Everywhere we went I carried special food for picky Anders and various activities and electronics to keep them occupied, my purse strap digging into my shoulder. At the hotel pool, William and Anders splashed a little too close to lounging hipsters with iMacs. “You’re getting my Tom’s wet,” one British traveler complained directly to my five-year-old. At times, the boys were rude, restless and utterly ungrateful. Toward the end of the trip, I was really starting to think my kids are a couple of jerks.
Then our last night we rode over to the Four Seasons riverfront lawn to celebrate Bryan's birthday and wait for the bats. Austin, and specifically one bridge in Austin, is home to 700,000 Mexican free-tailed bats. After sunset, the bats emerge from their hiding place under the South Congress Bridge and swarm out over the river in search of food. As we waited, Bryan and I sat on the patio with a drink while the boys ran around the lawn and played together nicely. The evening was absolutely beautiful.
At dusk, we headed down to the boat dock and watched as thousands of bats swirled in the distance, so small they looked like mosquitos, William said.
We were watching the endless stream of bats when all of a sudden William yelled out, "A bat! A bat!" We looked down, and a bat lay right at our feet. It had fallen into the river, somehow made it up to the dock, and it appeared to be hurt. My boys’ playful demeanor completely changed. “Mom, do something,” Anders pleaded. “Come on, get up! You can do it. Please get up! Fly!” William was down on all fours, gently talking to the bat, then naming him Jack.
|Jack the Bat|
I don't think we will ever forget this extraordinary experience our last night of Spring Break in Austin. The boys will remember the time a little fist-sized bat from a colony of half a million fell onto our feet, how we crouched down and saw every detail of this weak and vulnerable creature, from its wet furry face to its iconic wings, that he spread out onto the dock three times in vain. But most of all, I will remember how my sons changed in an instant, the pure kindness in their voices. I'll remember how they cared so much about another living thing, how they had so much hope for its survival to get back up and join the others, to get back to where it belonged with its family.
Deep in the Heart of Texas, my own heart swelled with pride knowing that my boys are good. They are very good indeed.