When we moved to Boston in September of 2001, my boys were very young. McKay was two-and-a-half, and Chase had just turned one. With the husband already there working, I needed some extra help with the cross-country flight and solicited the ever-willing and long-suffering Marta for the job.
Other than a karma-destroying incident on the airplane (which I won't speak of here), the flight was pretty uneventful. When we arrived in Boston, we found out that our moving truck would be several days late. We had nothing to do. And two active boys that had already watched "The Fishy Show" [A.K.A. The Little Mermaid] about 9,654 times. So we decided to go sightseeing.
I had always wanted to go to Salem and see the sights, especially Nathanial Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables. It was about a 20-minute tour, and seemed doable with two adults to handle the boys.
Oh. If ONLY I had known.
Our tour began in the small, cramped living room of the House. While the tour guide was giving a background on the illustrious Nathanial Hawthorne, I noticed a peculiar stench. No, it was not the musky, moldy scent of a 400 year old house. That would have been pleasant in comparison.
The smell was coming from Chase's diaper.
I panicked, but knew that if I took him out to change it, we would lose our spot on the tour and not be able to get back. I figured it was only 20 minutes. He'd be okay, right? Sure, it's embarrassing, but what are you going to do?
Colossal mistake of huge proportions.
Right about that time, the tour guide was letting us know that all the artifacts in the home are original and so delicate that flash photography was not allowed, in order to preserve the authenticity of the historic house. I glanced down and noticed McKay pulling the curtains over his head.
Oh, this probably isn't good. I ought to pick him up and just carry him, I thought.
As I reached down to scoop him up into my arms, he gave those curtains a mighty tug, and snapped the built-in curtain rod RIGHT OFF THE WALL. You know, the one Nathanial probably BUILT HIMSELF.
So I'm trying to hold this wiggly child, and at the same time, I've got Nathanial Hawthorne's curtains on top of my head. I'm pulling the curtains off and I hear the tour guide yell, "STOP EVERYTHING! NOBODY MOVE. STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE!"
I lift the curtains up sheepishly to face the angry and annoyed looks from the other people on our tour. By now, Chase's stench is stifling any and all remaining life out of the room.
The tour guide returns with the head of the museum and they begin to study the broken curtain rod to determine any restitution I would have to make. Poor Marta is holding the toxic-smelling Chase. McKay is wiggling and squirming to try and get out of my arms. My cheeks are hot and flushed, and the tears are threatening to spill over at any moment. Every eye in the room is glaring at me.
They finally decide that they will not make me pay for the damages and suggest in a less-than-friendly tone that we leave the tour.
Which we did.
Running and crying as fast as we could.
So the House of Seven Gables now has blinds where curtains once stood. My son has the lifelong honor of knowing he defaced a National Historic Landmark. I was shamed beyond anything I have ever known - before or since.
And I will fully understand if Marta never, ever wants to have children.
Top that, if you can.