Monday, 4 August 2008

"The Big Chill and the Dumpie-Monster"

I'm still feeling shattered after the four-hour puke-fest which was our journey home from the festival yesterday. On the drive there, while Dumps snored contentedly for most of the way, Egg managed not one but two spectacular projectile vomiting episodes. Luckily we had stopped for lattes and had two large paper cups on the ready to catch most (but certainly not all) of the mess. (Oh well, at least it wasn't like a recent dawn ride to the airport when the only thing I had on me was my beloved cosmetic bag (urrgh) which Egg promptly filled with sick only twenty minutes into the journey.)

Anyway, it didn't help that Friday was a gorgeously hot day and we got stopped in four different horrendous traffic jams through sheer bad luck (thanks Google Maps!) which meant that aside from a quick detour to grab a car seat and a torch, we left the house at 10:20 am and arrived at the Big Chill around 6:30-ish?! It also didn't help that we'd been given a brand new rental car - with a HUGE deductible and it was tragic to see the baptism of 'fire' it was given courtesy of our hugely nauseous firstborn.

Although I'd enjoy the challenge of waxing prolific on the whole 'kiddie vomit' scenario, and punning myself silly whilst doing so, let me just say that yesterday's episodes were horrifically and hilariously notable given that at one point I lost temporary control of a sloshing vomit-filled cappuccino cup (yep, we'll never travel without one of those again) and whilst trying to get back into my seat a portion of the sick went hurtling through the air narrowly missing (and I DO mean narrowly) Jay and landing right beside him all over the gear shift. I was so taken aback I burst into near hysterical giggles - laughing even harder when I saw Jay's shocked and horrified face.

Ah well, all is well that ends well and this one did. Both boys were tucked cozily (and cleanly) into bed after a nutritiously uninspired but quick as you like dinner of baked beans, hard boiled eggs, and 'toast soldiers' (or 'toy soldiers' as Egg calls them). I got showered, lotioned up to the hilt and thoroughly scrubbed three days of festival mayhem off my body.

I suppose you are curious about HOW the actual festival was...? Well let me just say that there were huge great patches when we were parked on blankets in the hills right beside giant white letters that spelled 'Big Chill' and gave a panoramic view of the entire grounds. There were other times we were in a field and listening to some great music, in a great atmosphere, with plenty of crazy and incredible eye candy to satiate even the most hardened people watcher. (There were people dressed up as giant banana's, batman, fairies, Indian chiefs and my favourite - whole bands of friends posing as professional tennis players!)

Compared to the mammoth 'Glastonbury' which is the daddy of all festivals 'The Big Chill' has a lot to recommend it. Friendly people, great vibes and so many young families with kiddies (like ourselves) that they provide a special 'family camping area'. At first mention it sounds grand, and when we erected our giant 9-man tent beside some mouthy yet friendly single moms we were rather bemused.

Now however, we shall never be able to hear that phrase, 'Family Camping Area' without shuddering in horror.

Egg had a grand old time and took to festival life like a pro; making friends, running around and trying to out-compete his little friend Mia in every-bloody-thing! Dumpie during the day was terrific...taking in all the mayhem, climbing everything in sight and generally charming onlookers. However at night he morphed into a monster!

That first night, the boys (Jay and John) were allowed free rein to go mental and stay out all night if they wanted (they wanted) on the condition that Lee and I could have the same courtesy the following night (with hindsight i'm now wondering what kind of an idiot i was to think that was feasible). So on Friday night around 1 am we all walked back the four sleeping babies/children to the tent. The transfer from pushchairs to bed went well, but Dumps suddenly awoke at the last minute (I think he was affronted by the dodgy air mattress) and began to wail and scream. He would not stop. Not for anything.

Eventually we told the boys to head out, thinking that Dumpie would calm down momentarily. He didn't. Please believe me when I tell you that for the next FOUR hours (nearly till the boys returned just before 6 am) Dumpie continued to wail, scream, moan, sob, yell and giggle right into the quite still air hovering around the vast 'Family Camping Area'. Creating a hellish cacophany, were not only his piercing screams, but the 'tutt-tutting' and gathering hostile shouts, whispers, moans of our neighbours.

Dumps was simply overtired, disoriented, chilly, and also happened to be TEETHING. One minute he would be rocking himself in a consoling manner moaning out, "Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah..." ad infinitum and then he would suddenly turn and slap me sharply across the face, giggling as I reeled in sleepy stupor and yelling, "Mama mama mama mama" in my ear as he grabbed my face and pulled me in for a slobbery french kissing session. Then he'd start crying again (sounding like a torture victim) and a few minutes later he'd climb up on top of me and begin several rousing chorus' of 'Booooob the builder'...getting louder and louder each time and loving the sound of his voice. He even developed this little ditty into 'Mooooom, the Mama' at a later stage around 4 am.

I could hear Lee in the next tent compartment snorting back laughter throughout the night due to Dumpie's antics, then sighing sympathetically when she'd hear the quick hard snap of a face slap followed by the moaning which would mean that we were in for several minutes of prolonged wailing and an uptake in the number of furitive whispers we could hear from the gathering hostile mob outside who were now, thanks to Dumps, all awake and Very Pissed Off.

Dumpie finally wore himself out near 5 am, and we shared a deep slumber for an hour or so until I woke up and the boys came home and I snuck out to go and use the toilets. I was gone for only 15 minutes or so, but on my return, from down the long path I could hear plaintive wails issuing forth from the vicinity of our tent and thought, 'Oh no not again'...briefly fantasizing about doing an about-face and going out to get an early morning coffee in the green fields.

But i didn't. I went back and faced the music...which in this case was Dump-a-lumps, face contorted with pure rage, being held outwards and aloft by an incredibly hung-over, exhausted and frightened looking man (which I clocked as my husband). He was inconsolable and it took me ages to quiet him again (Dumps, not Jay), and whilst I was doing so I was filled in on the scenario which had just taken place involving one of our neighbours who came to enquire about the health and safety of the child who had kept him awake all night and who clearly sounded distressed. We were told in not such polite terms that clearly our child was distressed that it couldn't be good for the baby or for others camping nearby. I think we were supposed to meekly agree to pack up our tents at that point (if he had his way), but of course we had no intention of doing so and therefore continued to garner more and more hostile looks and ill-disguised whispers as the weekend wore on.

On our second night (Saturday) we were all hyped up and waiting for a repeat of the previous nights performance, but this time we dosed poor Dumps up on 'Calpol' (baby paracetemal in liquid form which he adores) and crossed our fingers. We thought we were home free for a time, until suddenly around 3 am we heard the wail start up and and it gained momentum and we knew we were onto a loser.

Next thing I know Jay is up, and with military precision whips on his shorts, grabs Dumps (who is not even wearing socks or a jacket), takes him outside in the light drizzle and straps him in the soaking wet pushchair. He then apparently hurtled our bright red double pushchair through the wet fields, ending up by an all-night omelette stand where Dumps apparently became so mesmerized as to calm down and eventually fall asleep.

However this did not stop a neighbour lady from calling over security to complain about us - insinuating that she wasn't even sure that 'the parents' were inside with the child and insisting the hapless security guard 'do something about us'. (This same lady had boldly invited herself over earlier with the smashing opening line of, "So you guys are the ones everyone hates!" before plopping down, demanding a cigarette, and calling us bad parents. She then went on to neck FOUR spoons of Dumpie's 'Calpol' in quick succession, all the while calling her sanity into question while giggling like a loon and pointing a very strong flashlight in all our faces. She was terminally 'M.U.J.' Mentally Unstable Judgemental.)

Anyway, suffice it to say that I suspect in many homes around the country today, stories will be told about a horrid creature named 'Dumpie' (everyone knew his name by the end of the weekend) who ruined the festival.

I don't think Jay and I said more than three words to each other on the ride home - mind you it was quite difficult to talk over Dumpie's screaming to be let out of his car seat, and Egg's nauseous moaning. Still, it was a comfort to know that we are in this together, and come what may, for the rest of our lives, there will be one other with whom to share that special feeling of parental shame and humiliation.

As for that shockingly rude woman who labelled us 'bad parents', well I imagine she's back home now, cackling away like a crazy witch and glugging down baby medicine in a feeble attempt to get 'high'. Lady, we salute you, for making us, the 'bad parents', look good :)

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