9 years ago we began a kind of magical tradition. For Gabe's 9th Birthday we went to Medieval Times Dinner Theatre in Toronto. It was beautiful and wonderful and magical. We yelled ourselves hoarse for our knight, we ate dinner with our hands. Gabe declared that it was "THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER", and it would prove to be the last birthday that we celebrated with him, making it all the more special, wonderful and magical in our memories. If I close my eyes I see his beautiful little face red with excitement as he screamed for our knight.
Three years ago we asked Gracie if she would like to celebrate her 9th birthday at Medieval Times. She had seen the pictures and video of Gabe's ninth birthday. I think that part of the reason that she wanted to go was because it was so much fun, and also because I think it helped her to feel closer to Gabe. Gracie brought a friend with her, and we had another amazing time. I will not lie, there were a few moments that I was very thankful for the darkness, it helped to hide my tears. I had tears for Gabe, but I also had joy because it was a beautiful memory of him, and a memory we were making for Gracie. Gracie and her friend had an amazing time, kind of like we knew that they would.
This July Riley and Rowan turned 9. I'm not sure how it is that they are nine! It seems like they were just my tiny little babies, and yet they are not. To celebrate their birthday we went to Medieval Times, as is now our tradition. Each of them brought a friend. Because they each brought a friend we could not all travel together in one van... we had to take separate vehicles.
I've driven in Toronto before, it's not my favourite, but I can do it. The girls all wanted to travel with Christopher, and my self esteem was saved by Rowan. Rowan and his friend Zach wanted to travel with me. We all set off at the same time agreeing to meet at the first rest stop, it seemed simple enough. We left the house at 3:00 that gave us 4 and a half hours to get to Toronto, lots of time (famous last words). We had not anticipated the almost one hour traffic jam near Cobourg. We also did not expect one of Christopher's passengers to have the bladder the size of a thimble. The boys and I had so much time to spare at the rest station that we had time for a pee stop, and ice-cream sundays. When Christopher and the girls arrived we looked all relaxed like we had been there for hours. When they came we said hello and then it was on the road again.
When I travel I always print off directions from Mapquest. I have really no sense of direction and I have to reply heavily on the kindness of others, even if that other is a computer. I left the rest station feeling all smug (more famous last words). As we pulled out Christopher and the girls passed us. The boys were shouting from the back seat "Don't let them beat us! Catch up, catch up! Go faster Go faster!" It was pretty funny.
I took the right turn off at the Don Valley exit, again pretty smooth sailing. I was amazed at how light the traffic was for 6:00. We still had an hour and a half before the show started. I sailed down the Don Valley, and it turned into the Gardiner Express. The Gardiner was a little more congested, but I still got over for my turn, it was all good. I followed my directions, all good... that is until we discovered that the road that we had to take was closed. Did I mention that the Exhibition area was all covered in cement dividers for the Honda Racing? I still was calm as a cucumber. I would just figure out how to get over to the other side. I was doing pretty good when I saw the sign that said "Exhibition Place", oh and then the bottom dropped out of my world when I saw all of those stupid yellow saw horses blocking the road. I saw a police officer and parked my van behind the saw horses. A funny thing happened next... the nice police officer told me how to get to Medieval Times, and even stopped traffic so that I could pull a U turn. God bless him. I waved and was on my way. Oh I forgot the most important parts of the story up to this point. Christopher used to work in Toronto and he was fairly familiar with the lay of the land, unlike myself. As we were trying to make our way along the Lakeshore Blvd West, Christopher called my cell. I handed the phone to Rowan, because I was having enough trouble without trying to talk on the phone and drive. I foolishly thought that Rowan could handle it. "Dad says to get on the Glabee doo bah" Rowan says with a straight face. "The WHAT?" I say, my calm beginning to dissipate. "The Glodina Glabba da." It was at this point that I had pulled in in front of the really nice police officer. "Daddy says he wants me to hand you the phone." Rowan says. "I CAN'T TALK AND DRIVE!" at this point I had gotten out of the car to ask the police officer for directions. I got in the car with Rowan handing me the phone "Daddy wants to talk to you." "I CAN'T TALK AND DRIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JUST HANG UP!!!!!!!!!!!" The nice officer stood in traffic, and let me get turned around and on the right path. I headed down the way that he had asked. I was driving in between cement dividers, huge cement dividers. I had traveled a little way when I came upon a guy in a yellow jacket talking to the car in front of me. He did not look very happy. The car in front stopped for a while, and then drove off. I stopped and asked if I was headed the right way for Medieval Times. "You need to turn around right now." he said to me not so politely. "But the police officer told me to travel on this road. How do I get to Medieval Times?" I was near tears. "You will just have to turn around and go up Lake Shore Blvd." he was becoming more agitated. "But I just came from there, and we're going to be late!" I thought that he might pop an artery right there. "I DON'T GIVE A FU*K! Do what ever the FU*K you want, I DON'T GIVE A SH*T! FU*K IT!!!" and he backed away. "Thank You" I shouted as I drove away before he changed his mind. I looked in the rear view mirror and caught the faces of my two little passengers. Their faces marked the horrified look on my own face. "Didn't he see us in the back seat" Rowan asked "He saw us, he made eye contact with us. How could he swear like that when he saw two kids in the car?". Zack said in disbelief. At this point in the story most of you are wondering why I didn't give that idiot an earful. It was because at the time it was 7:20, and our show started at 7:30. I did not have the time, and the other part was that I didn't want him to change his mind.
Finally we pulled into the parking lot and ran to the castle. I had only sworn a few times and it was not the same level as the surly security guy. I may have said Sh*t, once or twice. All things considered I think that I did miraculously well. We ran through the entrance and got our tickets. The show had already started, that was o.k. we were there. We walked along the dark corridor. Eventually we found everyone. Dinner had not yet been served, it was all good. Normally I would be in a horrendous fit of anger by this point, but I wasn't. I was irritated, but not belligerent. I looked over at the faces of the kids, they were glowing. How could you ever be angry when they were so happy?
The food came and Zach wondered what we ate with, no one had given him a knife or a fork. I held up my fingers and wiggled them. His face just shone with excitement as he dug into his dinner with two hands. The kids shouted themselves hoarse as they shouted for the Red and Yellow Knight. Rowan and Zach had amazing looks of disbelief as they saw the sparks flying from the swords, as the knights effortlessly jumped from their horses to fight. The more I saw their faces the more funny our whole trip there seemed. It was no longer angry, but funny, a comedy of errors.
Each time our knight would win one of the feats, the king would give him carnations to throw to the subjects from his realm (i.e. our section). I had my fingers crossed that one of our kids would catch the carnation. The Red and Yellow Knight would kiss the carnation and throw it up into the crowd, each time it sailed past or fell short. Each time our knight would win, the kids would go crazy. They were very invested. In the end our knight WON! The next thing I knew our Red and Yellow knight was standing behind Christopher and Riley. Christopher put his hand up to high five the knight, but what happened next was a once in a life time. The king said "Red and Yellow Knight you may choose a queen." "I have chosen my queen your highness. I choose Lady Riley Lindsay to be my queen of love and beauty". All of us were stricken with disbelief. Rowan shouted up, his fist pumping in the air "That's my TWIN!". The knight and Princess put a tiara on Riley's head, and gave her a purple sash. I think that may have been one of the best birthday gifts ever.
Once again we had a wonderful magical time at Medieval Times, and as usual the Lindsay's were almost the last ones to leave the castle.
We have visited the Toronto Castle approximately 6 times now, and the Myrtle Beach one twice. It is our goal to hit every single one of the castles. I'm not sure when we will get to them all, but I do know that we will be back again and again!