We spent this past weekend in Ireland. The unexpected highlight of our trip was Blarney Castle. I figured we’d just run in, let mommy kiss the stone, and be on our way to check off the other destinations on our itinerary. Wrong. Blarney Castle is a lot more than a castle. It’s a sprawling compound with gardens, streams, caves, and even a playground. We might have gone for the Blarney Stone, but we came away three hours later with three happy, exhausted children.
There was only one real downside to an otherwise perfect experience: mommy kissed the Blarney Stone. It all started as we pulled into the parking lot after a 90-minute drive from Shannon. As the kids awoke and demanded to know what we were going to do now, daddy flippantly responded, “Mommy wants to kiss a rock.”
“Eww. Rocks are dirty,” came the immediate response from Tattletale in the backseat. Not to be left out, her groggy brother mumbled a similar sentiment. We quickly learned that Tattletale didn’t really believe her mom would kiss a rock. And try explaining the silliness surrounding this particular stone to a four year old: “Laying upside down at the top of this castle and kissing a block of limestone will endow mommy with the gift of gab…“ Right. She instantly pointed out her mother’s hypocrisy. “But at the airport you said we can’t kiss the walls and put our mouth on stuff because it’s dirty.” Touché.
Rewind twenty-four hours to the airport. Long lines are like invitations for my kids to touch things and explore. But they are never content just touching. They revert to some baby-like stage where everything must be explored with their mouths. It’s not enough to scold them for sitting or laying on a floor that thousands of people from across the world traverse daily. It’s coupled with desperate pleas and chidings. “Don’t put your mouth on that pole!” “Are you chewing on the arm of that chair?!” And the biggest culprit: those stupid retractable belt barriers. Their mere role in enforcing unending airport lines already calls out to every bored child to be unlatched, stretched out, and then released to fly backwards. My kids know they can’t get away with that easily. But discreetly unlatch the belt and chew on it? Somehow both Tattletale and Temper thought that was a brilliant idea this trip. Add that to the three of us crammed into a bathroom stall when the impatient boy-child decided he’d squash his face against the metal stall-wall waste bin with a used feminine hygiene product still protruding. Gag.
The plane wasn’t any better. “Why are you licking the tray table?!” “Get the seat belt buckle out of your mouth!” And finally, trying to encompass every possible item they could encounter next, “DO NOT PUT ANYTHING IN YOUR MOUTH. DON’T KISS IT, DO NOT CHEW ON IT. ONLY FOOD GOES IN YOUR MOUTH.”
“But you’re always giving Diaper Baby toys to chew on,” came the Tattletale’s instantaneous response.
“He’s different. Big kids and adults don’t put stuff other than food in, or around, their mouths.” And with that I’d sealed my fate.
Now as we strolled across the grounds of Blarney Castle, I had to explain why it was somehow okay for mommy to stick her mouth on something other than food. It didn’t help that daddy had explained that LOTS of people kiss the stone. “Like ten people?” the overly inquisitive preschooler asked. My husband assured her it was more like thousands. “Three!” the Temper chimed in with his favorite number. “Eww. That rock is really dirty if all those people come here to kiss it.”
It wasn’t worth trying to explain that they probably clean it or the novelty factor of attempting to kiss it. She is four and mommy was about to purposefully break her own rule. It was a proud ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ moment.
The Tattler insisted on accompanying me to the top of Blarney Castle to see the foolishness of her rule-breaking mommy in action. Being the angelic, rule-abiding child she is, she proudly refused to take part in the foolishness. It probably helped that she’d have to be eight years old to be allowed to hang upside down to kiss it.
For the moment, she seems to have forgotten her mother’s blatant hypocrisy. But I’m sure she’ll remember at precisely the right moment down the road. I had hoped to end our visit to Blarney Castle with a quick tour of the gardens. However, when the entry to the Poison Garden literally has a sign warning: “Do not touch, smell, or eat any plant” because the plants are poisonous, we knew better. We ended our morning at Blarney with a final swing at the playground. The perfect end to our morning adventure. Until the Tattletale cried all the way to the car because she didn’t have enough time at the playground. Oh well.