A festive visit to Legoland provided the latest adventure for me and the Dilly Dally Dawdlers.
The Dilly Dally Dawdlers is what I sometimes call Best Fest Buddy Tom’s three grandkids. It’s also the working title for the book the four of us may or may not one day write.
(NOTE: I can’t call them Triple D. That’s taken by a celebrity chef. Damn copyright laws!)
Since these three dilly, dally and dawdle with the best of them, we shall see if we ever get around to doing the book. If we don’t, I might start on The Holiday Adventures of the Raccoon Kid. More on that later.
As for Legoland, it was mid kid Izzy’s birthday recently. I promised him we would go. He loves Legos. He carries some with him wherever he goes. Seriously.
Legoland has a jungleland. Coincidence? Most certainly.
Either way, I bought tickets online the morning of our trip to Schaumburg. I waited until that day. When you are taking three kids not directly under your charge anywhere, it’s a little tough to plan anything more than a few hours out.
Anyway, my Tex-pat pal Rachel provided me with a web link for two-for-one tickets. That was all well and good – but for the fact that dumb-ass me inadvertently paid for eight tickets. All I needed was four.
I called tech support. No refunds. I had to call Legoland in Schaumburg. No answer.
So, since she was kind enough to give me the link, I asked Rachel if she wanted to take her two sons and meet us at Legoland – on me.
One kid was sick, but was being watched. She and her other son, Harvey, were in Naperville. Rachel was playing tuba in an annual mass- tuba Christmas time performance. Still, they agreed to meet us at Legoland afterward.
That meant I only had two extra tickets. So we kept an eye on Legoland from the nearby Jamba Juice for potential takers.
I wound up giving them to a big bearish looking guy who was heading into Legoland with a fairly large group of people. At first he and his group seemed wary – as if I were hawking timeshares in Cancun.
Once I explained, he took the tickets. He insisted on giving me some money for them, which was nice. I took less than I paid for them.
Rachel also gave him the web code, so they saved a good bit of money on top of that.
For me it was nice having another adult along for the journey, too, much less one the kids know from their school. Rachel sometimes teaches there.
You can never have too many authority figures when on a trip with elementary school-aged kids.
By the way, Tom couldn’t make it. He had to buy two tires and help his brother pick out a new sofa. The two told the kids they were going to New Orleans for the afternoon. The kids believed them. I played along. #santa
As for Legoland itself, things went easier than I expected.
The attraction is at the Streets of Woodfield, which has seen better days. Still, it’s near the humongous Woodfield Mall. The trip was on a Christmas shopping season Saturday.
Luckily, the route I took driving there had relatively light traffic. I only had to yell at the kids a couple times in my less than convincing old-school, dad-like way.
The parking lot by Legoland had plenty of available spaces. Legoland itself was only moderately busy.
Parts of it had less lighting than I recalled from my last visit there, eons ago. The aforementioned jungleland area was dark and smelled a bit like a rainforest.
A hall holding Christmas items made from Legos had lighting that made it seem like a set for an episode of the 1960s version of Batman – or from some indie art film from the 1970s.
Still, it was cool to see a Lego version of Chicago and the other oversized items made from the plastic bricks.
We rode the dragon boats to shoot at targets in a cave. We took in the 4-D movie, where they sprayed water at the crowd. Kind of.
We met the Legomaster, who was working behind glass. I was going to suggest he get going on a St. Patrick’s Day exhibit with a leprechaun and other such malarkey, but didn’t. Some stereotypical drunken parade revelers fighting or puking but made out of Legos might be interesting to see, too. Or not.
Mostly, the kids played with Legos in areas set up on the second floor. One held Lego Friends. Thankfully, it was not based on the old sitcom.
Two floors of fun made it a bit challenging for old man Mike here to keep track of his party. Another challenge was helping Izzy undo the Sonic the Hedgehog onesie he insisted on wearing for the day, so he could go to the bathroom.
Overall, the kids were mostly well-behaved. The only meltdown came from JT, who is just five. His shoes wouldn’t stay on his feet. Can you blame him for getting panicky? The Legoland play area is one place where you definitely don’t want to be shoeless.
The biggest challenge: Leaving Legoland, you have to pass through the gift shop.
Rachel was kind enough to get Lily and JT small gifts. I wound up buying Izzy some tiny figurines. He grabbed a Santa and his sleigh kit right before I went to pay.
I told him that would be his Christmas gift. He was okay with that.
The kids were hungry, which meant some whining and complaining on the way home. So we decided to have a contest to see who could shout or scream the loudest. Way to diffuse a situation, eh?
They wanted to go to McDonald’s. The first one we spotted had no playland. So we hit the one near where we live. After an afternoon playing at Legoland, you definitely need a snack.
This also offered a great way to be exposed to more kid germs, just in time for the holidays. And it gave me a chance to hear the dulcet tones found in a cage-like play setup filled with kids whose screeches would frighten howler monkeys.
We also had time to kill before Tom and his brother returned from New Orleans. When JT informed me that the boy’s bathroom allegedly had poop and toilet paper all over the floor, we promptly left.
Once home, all three went to work on their Lego kits, ASAP.
I tried my best to build JT’s Star Wars battle craft. Legos are toward the top of the list of many things at which I do not excel. So is Microsoft Excel.
Tom – an engineer by trade – wound up finishing the spacecraft for JT. He also finished Lily’s very trippy cake-with-people-inside-and-a-slide thing .
Izzy’s only seven. He and his siblings were impressed that Izzy finished his Christmas kit all by himself. After all, the kit box said it was designed for kids ages 9 and older!!!
I offered to take a photo of the accomplishment, but no. I also said he should put it somewhere it would last. Nah.
Within 24 hours, all three items wound up deconstructed. But hey. Izzy at least used the parts from his sleigh display to craft a Santa’s workshop. All the other pieces joined the rest of the hundreds upon hundreds of Lego pieces in Tom’s house.
If not in and among lots of other toys, many Lego bricks and pieces frequently reappear out of nowhere. In couch crevasses. In cars. Under foot. But not yet in meals. I think.
Anyway, that was pretty much our Legoland adventure.
As for the aforementioned Raccoon Kid, JT has a winter cap with mittens attached. It resembles a raccoon.
He wore it Wednesday morning. That day, I watched them before school for a couple hours. Late start. They have this once a month, but never the same Wednesday of the month. What parent doesn’t love to have to adjust a mid-week work schedule?
We hit McDonald’s before class for breakfast and to play inside.
JT wore his raccoon cap. The kid’s a method actor. He pretended to be a raccoon by putting his feet in the mittens, then crawling around on the floor.
I had to help him get his feet out of the mittens. Go figure.
For some reason, while being a raccoon, JT asked me to take a photo of the McDonald’s sign. Or so I thought. When we got back in the car, I learned he wanted the photo to be of him standing by that sign.
For kids pretending to be raccoons, McDonald’s apparently holds the same photogenic appeal that the Hollywood sign, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty do for tourists.
But it was 20 degrees outside. A busy McDonald’s parking lot ain’t the best spot for taking a kid’s photo.
I told him no. Tears and whining ensued.
Lily helped convince her youngest brother to settle for a photo that I texted her of JT in his raccoon hat.
Crisis averted, the trio made it to school with more than five minutes to spare.
Off they went. Home I went. Until the next episode.
Same Bat time. Same Bat station.
Mike Danahey is a freelance writer who lives somewhere in the Chicago metro area. A festive sort, he’s available to write about your wedding, birthday, bar mitzvah or other celebration. This being the holiday season, he can even cobble together last minute Christmas card copy or write lyrics for a quick carol or two, just for you. Whatever it is, he will write it. Or at least try to write it. Just leave him a message here. Even if you don’t need a writer, leave him a message. It will do his heart good. Better than a statin, even.