Home Alone ( In London)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Laster-day (as one of my children likes to call yesterday) Jefe turned on Home Alone 2 for the kids to watch. Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves alone (together) watching that film.

I've actually never seen that movie and found myself laughing at all the silly slapstick comedy.

I kept over analyzing the film because NO WAY would a hotel ever let a kid check in without a parent.

NEVER gonna happen.

I had totally forgotten about a time when I was a kid and I tried to check into a hotel in London--by myself-- and the staff wouldn't let me.

So I sat in the lobby. FOR SIX HOURS. Waiting for my parents to show up.

We went on a European vacation of sorts when I was seventeen. My sister and I flew out several days after my parents and were supposed to meet them in the airport.

Here's the first thing I would like to point out: My parents let me and my FOURTEEN year old sister fly INTERNATIONALLY by ourselves.

Let that sink in.

Seventeen and fourteen. Flying alone.


My Dad actually scared the wa-jeebers out of me when he was explaining the plane change we were going to have to make.

"You're making a plane change in Atlanta. Atlanta is a very confusing airport (true). You are going to have to take a subway to the international terminal. DO NOT LOSE YOUR SISTER. You are going to have to run the entire time. We did not allow the mandatory wait time into your layover (min 2hours). If you miss this flight, you will be stranded in Atlanta forever."

No pressure, right?

I also remember my Dad telling my sister and I to only pack a carry on. I do remember him telling us that. But, in my defense, I thought he meant each of us could have a carry on. Or two.

Apparently my sister and I WAY over packed and we didn't have enough room in our rental car (which looked something like a mini-coop) for all six of us AND our carry on (S).

We were staying outside Liverpool with some family friends and when it got time to load all of our crap into our mini to head to London -- there just wasn't enough room for everyone.

My parents then put me and my TEN YEAR OLD SISTER on a train bound for London. A two hour train ride. To London. ALONE.

My Dad gave me explicit instructions: "You are to go to the Hotel and nowhere else. I have already paid for the hotel so they will let you check in. Just ask for the key and stay in the room. Do not leave the hotel and STAY IN THE ROOM. Order as much room service as you want just STAY IN THE ROOM."

Can you say Hog Heaven?

I actually remember thinking: "I'm not staying in the room the entire two hours while we wait for you. I'm going swimming!"

My sister and I set out on what we thought was going to be a grand adventure. We sped across the English country side at breath-taking speeds and saw amazing things.

We arrived in the big city and took a cab to the hotel. Via some site seeing.

When we finally got to the hotel, we were starving. We had planned out everything we were going to order from room service. After which we planned to lounge poolside until our family arrived.

My parents assured us that they would only be two hours behind.

Guess what?

The hotel would NOT let us check in. No amount of begging, pleading, or CRYING could convince them otherwise.

We sat in the lobby for about an hour.

My little sister started being the devil on my left shoulder. "This is boring. Lets go sightseeing."

I actually contemplated it.

However, I KNEW that if I walked out of that hotel, my parents would show up five minutes later and I could expect to see my head on a platter.

I think it was about the only time in my teen years that I CONSCIOUSLY decided to be obedient. Don't get me wrong. I was a really good kid. But, most kids would have totally blown off their parents and gone sightseeing. I decided that I would do what they had asked me to do.

I stayed in that hotel lobby mostly because I was scared of losing my sister. She is seriously talented at getting lost in major big cities.

Two hours passed and my sister was on the verge of tears because HELLO! WE ARE STARVING TO DEATH.

Three hours passed and a giant entourage of rap-stars checked in.

We sat in the lobby and watched the rap-stars and their groupies coming and going-- eating food from the restaurant-- while we sat in the lobby starving to death. Literally.

At hour four I started thinking about all the amazing stuff we were missing in the city. We could take a taxi-- go sightsee at Trafalgar Square-- and then take a taxi back to the Hotel. I was a seasoned traveler by that age, and I knew that as long as I had the name of the hotel and a little money I could get anywhere. The problem was that I was also a giant cheapskate (still am).

I didn't want to use my hard earned money on buying us food. I didn't want to use all my money on taxi fare when I had planned down to the last penny what I was going to purchase on our European Vacation.

So. We sat through another agonizing hour.

At hour six, when my parents finally showed up, they were surprised to see us still sitting in the lobby. "Why didn't you just go out site seeing? That's what we did."

Yes they did.

They went site seeing on their way to save us from the big, bad city of London.

They toured Shakespeare's home.

And had a nice lunch on the lawn.

While we sat in the hotel lobby watching gangsters come and go. STARVING.

My Dad said "I wouldn't have been mad at you if you would have gone site seeing. Especially since they wouldn't let you check in."

I was shocked.

My sister actually punched me while she yelled I TOLD YOU SO.

The one time I decided I should be obedient and NOT go do what I wanted to do was the one time I actually could have done what I wanted?

How confusing. (I can see why my teenagers sometimes get perplexed with me).

That trip is one of my most favorite childhood memories. Life sure was different "back then."

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15 monkeys jumping on the bed:

  1. MommyJ said...

    That is a great story. This one hardly compares, but it kind of relates. Sort of.

    When I was seventeen, one afternoon after school, I packed a weekend's worth of clothes into a duffel, and drove four hours north to see my college boyfriend. I stayed the entire weekend. On campus, with some friends of his. I was staying in the girls dorm, we were very well behaved the entire weekend, we even went to church together on Sunday. But holy cow! For all my parents knew, I was holed up in a hotel room somewhere doing goodness knows what...

    And it was a long drive... on curvy mountain roads, all by myself. I'm still surprised they so willingly let me make the trip. With smiles on their faces. They trusted me, I guess, which is a huge deal, but uh, when I think about letting one of my kids do that? Holy smokes! I'm not sure I could.

    But I don't have teenagers yet. Maybe I will trust them that much? Time will tell.

  2. Cathy said...

    What a great story!

  3. 2busy said...

    First of all, the whole ALONE thing would have never happened. Although my parents did put me on a plane at 18 for Hawaii to catch a ride and check into college by myself...

    I totally think a cell phone would have come in handy in your situation...Different times...

  4. TheOneTrueSue said...

    I love this story...

    And of course, it wasn't really that different back then - it's actually statistically much safer in the world NOW. We just hear more about the bad things on the news/internet/etc., and are therefore more fearful. Plus, parenting standards, lets face it, are higher. :)

  5. Just SO said...

    Man that would have made me angry. I might have left a note at the front desk saying that we were going out and where and then took off...as long as my sister promised not to get lost.

  6. Mormon Mommy Blogs said...

    When I told this story to my kids, they kept saying "why didn't you just call them?" I couldn't get them to understand that there was no such thing as a cell phone back in "those days".

    Man. I'm old.


    (yes I'm signed in under a different account, and TOO lazy to change it.)

  7. Talbot Family said...

    Seriously, that is too funny! I can't believe what parents used to get away with. My mom would leave us in the car while she grocery shopped for hours. Admittedly, I am tempted at times to do the same. Wouldn't, but am tempted.

  8. Circe said...

    Great story! My parents allowed me to live in Paris alone in my own apartment at 14. My mom lived a couple metro stops away. By the time I moved away from home at 17, I had traveled to Europe alone 2 times and twice with a group. Would I let my kids do the same? Absolutely. I'm planning on it. We just have to convince Scott that it's a good idea! :)

  9. wendy said...

    I hope they fed you a GREAT meal after all that.
    WOW, even at my old age, I'd be scarred to death to make that trip by myself.

    and dad should be more specific about "times to be obedient and times when I don't need to be obedient"

  10. Braden said...

    Wow. It's a really different time back then, wasn't it?

  11. DeNae said...

    Holy smokes!! I kept switching back and forth between thinking your parents were totally cool and thinking they should have been arrested! With occasional stops at "why the hell didn't they at least call you at the hotel to assure you they were fine??"

    I hope I'm as brave as they are, although I already know I'm not. My 19-year old just left for a British Lit tour, and she and my 17-year old were saying that they want to take another tour like that, together, next year. I said, "Oh, no. You're much too young!"

    Hope they don't see this post!

  12. Jenn said...

    Those were the days. My sister and I used to fly from Berlin,Germany to Washington DC every summer and we weren't even teenagers yet.
    I have a hard time letting my son go into the bathroom by at the airport by himself at 14. Amazing how times have changed!!!

  13. This Girl loves to Talk said...

    your parents rock - i hope to be like them

  14. InkMom said...

    I was bitten by the wanderlust bug early on, in a family of homebodies, so I traveled without them a lot, starting with a trip to New York City at 13, with a chorus group from another school. (My history teacher was married to their chorus teacher, there was an extra spot on the bus, my teacher knew I'd been dying to see the city, and made all the arrangements.) The only person I knew on that trip was my teacher, which means that when everyone else wanted to go to FAO Schwartz, I took it upon myself to go to the Met. IN a cab. By myself.

    Same story when, after I graduated from high school, I ended up traveling to Europe with an orchestra full of people who knew each other, but not me. No one else wants to go to the Louvre? No problem! I speak French! I can use a subway! Let's not think about the fact that that summer, random bombings were happening all over the Paris subway system. And I didn't tell ONE PERSON where I was going, or when to expect me back . . . I cringe when I think about all of the things that could have befallen little innocent me, and not one single person would have known where to start looking.

    Crazy. But I made it. And, wow, the experience.

  15. Mary said...

    Love the way you tell the story! We just returned from 3 months in Europe and our cell phones didn't work there -- what agony could have been spared! My sister and I went to Japan for a whole summer when I was 17 and only talked to my parents a couple of times. I think I haven't cut the cord with my kids yet and they let me know all the time. Definitely something to think about.