Gator Sightings

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The day the cruise disembarked, we had eight hours between leaving the ship and boarding the plane. The thought of eight hours at the Miami airport with my crazy child was, well, horrifying. So, we booked a Fort Lauderdale shore excursion. Since we missed out on seeing the monkeys and parrots in Honduras, we booked an airboat ride and botanical garden tour. It promised to be more interesting, with a gator show thrown in.

Robbie was not a fan of the airboat ride at first. I had no idea it would be so loud. But it was. About ten times louder than I would have guessed. I looked over, all smiles, to my darling child, whose face was crumpling. I couldn’t even hear his screams above the roaring motor. Eventually, he calmed down and seemed to have a pretty good time.

Rob’s good time did not, however, stop me from being a terrible mother. After the airboat ride, the tour guide pulled me aside. His words were something along the lines of: “I know you have a child with you, and I’m not angry. But, it would really be best if you could move to the back of the bus. Sitting in the middle of the bus is really disrupting the rest of the tour. Again, I understand that he’s a kid and I’m not mad. But we really need you to move to the back of the bus.”

Are you kidding me? Now, let me tell you several things. First, my child was being bad. He was crying and throwing toys. It was, even without being chastised, mortifying. I couldn’t console him. Second, the tour guide didn’t shut up at any point on the tour. We were on a bus for several hours total. I know more than I could ever imagine about alligators and crocodiles. Third, it’s all in the tone. You don’t need to talk to me like I’m twelve. Ever. Or make me feel like I’m a terrible mother. Or assure me that you’re not angry with me. I don’t care if you’re angry with me or not. When I booked the tour, I checked to make sure there were no age restrictions. If you don’t want a kid under three there, then enforce a restriction.

Here’s how the converation should have gone: “It seems like your little boy loves to run and move. I know the seats on the bus can get a little tight, but there’s a bigger section in the back of the bus. It might give him a little more room to play, so I thought I’d suggest it to you.” In this scenario, I don’t feel like the world’s worst mom. And I’m not angry to the point of writing the company to complain about the tour guide. In fact, I might actually write the company to praise the guide for his tact. Don’t get me wrong; I would totally see through this. But it wouldn’t make me feel so horrible that I want to cry – which I did once we got to the airport.

On a brighter note, I did get to hold a baby alligator. And we saw an alligator wrestler stick his head in an alligator’s mouth. On the boat, we only saw two gators. But it was pretty awesome to skim along the top of the water.

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