Millenium Park – Wednesday August 8
The next day the Princess got everyone up at 5.30 which, frankly, could have been a lot worse. It did mean that when we got to the supermarket dowstairs (the bizarrely named Jewel Osco) at 8.30 she was ready for a nap and we had to leave her screaming for cake in the frozen food section while we went about the remainder of our business.
Once we’d stocked up with a couple of gallons of milk, we took ourselves to millenium park which in what can only be called an embarrassing overrun was opened in 2004 (explain that mayor Daley). There was free kiddie entertainment. A woman in a jumper (!) with a guitar sang popular favourites which our pale, sweaty, jet lagged kiddies lapped up. A new favourite is a number called lemondrops and gumdrops which, like Hershey bars, is unknown in our part of the world. It involves singing while sticking out your tongue. Oh fabulous. Then we went to the Crown Fountain where the children ran about getting absolutely sopping. How they loved it. I think it may have been the highlight of the Princess’s life to date.
For lunch, we went to the Park Bar Grill where I had my first taste of the American service industry. We were escorted with our dripping children to a table pre-equipped with two high-chairs, six glasses of ice water (did I mention my long suffering sister was there too, somebody had to chase the children around the fountain) three packets of colouring pencils and placemats to colour in. It occurred to me that everyone in Chicago had been really pleasant to us which helped us to survive the exhaustion. Honestly, the poor Americans when they arrive in Europe with their families, my heart goes out to them. Funnily enough though, many of the service industry people were not from the US but somehow the values seemed to be omnipresent. Our doorman was from Bihac and I was tempted to tell him about the time I spent in Banja Luka but somehow, all things considered, I decided best not. The lady running the kiddie train on Navy Pier was from Nepal. One of our taxi drivers was from Cameroon another was from Nigeria and told us that he had a brother who was a nurse in Ghent. In fact, the only place to find locals was in the shops. I digress. So there we were trying to work out what a PBJ sandwich was in the restaurant and a polite French waitress (ha, ha) came up and explained that it was peanut butter and jelly. I wish she had also reminded us that chips are crisps and we would probably not have gone for quite so many side orders of chips. The Princess had her second meltdown of the day when she dropped her hot dog and would not accept half of Daniel’s instead. “I only want a whole hot dog” she wailed “get me another hot dog”. If only we had had a strategy to deal with jet lag.
That evening after a trip to the lego shop to equip the children with small sharp objects with which to strike each other, we went to my sister’s apartment which is lovely but small when you add five of us to it, particularly when three of us are hell bent on destruction. I think my sister was slightly shell shocked by the level of damage three small children could inflict though she bore it stoically only wincing slightly as they spurned the dinner she had prepared in favour of determined efforts to ingest the small glass balls strewn attractively round her fireplace. To be fair, their attempt to dismantle the apartment was somewhat assisted by a kind colleague of my sister’s who had given her a number of things for the children to play with including a cart (enormous yoke for pushing kids around in, never seen the like before, think covered wagon from cowboy films of your youth) which, to everyone’s alarm, they pushed around with great gusto and refused to yield up to the authorities.
By this point, the children had moved to West Coast time and were all refusing to go to bed though it was nearly nine.