Kel and I made a spontaneous decision last week to head to the hills and watch Ironman Lake Placid yesterday. I called around and found a campsite that we could pitch a tent on, we packed the car and we were off. I think both of us were hoping it would be a fun weekend for the boys as well as for us, and it was...mostly.
However, I did learn some lessons that I thought you might benefit from.
Do make sure you have some fun activities built into the weekend for your kids to enjoy and remember. For ours playing with fire seemed a good choice...
Don't expect your children to fall asleep easily when sleeping in a tent...with people yelling and having fun outside...and fireworks going off in the distance.
Do make a plan for getting to the race site that involves knowing where to park and where the best sites for spectating each event are.
Don't be disappointed if you miss the race start because your husband declared it would be a very bad idea to wake your children, who didn't get to sleep until well after 10 p.m., up at 5 a.m.
Do try to schedule in some flexibility to your day so the kids don't get crazy bored and begin sliding down a sloped concrete wall and rip their brand new shorts to shreds because you are busy watching the start of the 2nd loop of the bike.
Don't expect your children to be impressed with Ironman athletes, bikes or anything having to do with the race, and especially don't think that having a cow bell will change how they feel about cheering.
Do bring an entire backpack full of snacks and treats including lollipops to bribe your children with throughout the day.
Don't expect the snacks in your backpack to be enough to support said bribing.
Do bring lots of cash to buy popsicles and cotton candy and t-shirts and other crap to keep your children from having a total meltdown.
Don't try to wait for one more person you know to go by instead of getting some lunch for your children.
Do take breaks from the race action to explore the town and go into gift shops where your children will want something completely impractical and then melt down in front of other spectators because they aren't getting it.
Don't think that you are the only parents that struggle with your children on race day.
Do scout out prime viewing locations that include some sort of grass, shade and either other kids or some sort of dog - the dogs are great. Oh, and a porta-potty close by never hurts.
Don't be afraid to call it a day even though you really didn't get to watch anyone finish because your children have really gone past the point of no return.
Do remember to smile and keep everything in perspective and be glad that you got to see what you did because it is totally inspiring.
Don't forget to indulge your children every now and then and see what they come up with. Check out Ryan's series of self-portraits shot while waiting for our dinner in Old Forge on the way home.
Do be thankful for every day (and long night) with your children, and know that if you really want to watch the race, leave them with Grandma, but if you want to enjoy your children take them with you.