The summation of my Vegas experiences can be summed up with one word: urine.
But before I get to that, there are a few things you should know about my relationship with Las Vegas.
Vegas has a bit of a bad reputation for families. And rightly so. Between the trucks boasting massive, larger-than-life nude lady ads driving up and down the Strip, porn slappers hawking their girly trading cards that inevitably end up all over the sidewalk, dancers and strippers on casino tables day and night, and the gambling, drinking, sex, and debauchery around every corner, Sin City weighs heavy on the inappropriate scale.
Yet, I have managed to find myself in Vegas with my kids dozens of times. Like it or not, Vegas is host to a variety of events and conferences that lure families into its lair each week of the year. On top of that, I have family that lives just outside Vegas. While staying on the Strip isn’t always ideal, I can find good rates, a sprawling hotel pool, and deals on dining.
I’ve nursed my baby in a Vegas bar, told my 6-year-old that “no she cannot use my bra to dance in front of the mirror like the pretty ladies out front,” and summoned a high-pitched version of my voice to explain why the ladies on the cards littering the streets and sidewalks don’t have clothes on. I am a rock-star parent.
But as promised, let’s get back to urine.
My whole family was in Las Vegas celebrating a milestone birthday. As adult siblings, we made the executive decision to take our children to see the pirate show that ran nightly in front of the Treasure Island (re-branded “TI”) hotel. All of us siblings had fond memories of the show as kids and couldn’t wait to let our own offspring see the epic pirate battle including real, moving pirate ships, cannons, fire, and adventure. We were across town at the party and time was going to be tight with traffic, but do-able.
The next HOUR was spent transporting our respective families, in different cars – thanks to car seats and the shear number of us – through the back streets of Vegas, across the Strip, down the Strip, to the Treasure Island self-parking (because money was tight and I had no brain), and walking through the casino to reach the front of the building. It was a TON of work, huffing and puffing through the parking garage and casino carrying my three-year-old and gripping my five-year-old’s hand while simultaneously pushing an umbrella stroller with my teeny-tiny little strapped in. Time was running out and we didn’t want to miss the show, so I summoned my mom strength and pushed through hoards of people. I used my stroller as an NFL fullback that cleared the path for us while filled with fear that at any moment, someone would tackle my baby, stroller and all. There would be no penalty flag in Vegas. Drunkards don’t pay too much attention to small children. As I pushed onward, twenty-somethings and bachelorette groups and casino workers gawked at the absurdity of my position, surely vowing to never have children and NEVER bring them to Las Vegas like this weighed-down woman. We were a freak show, an unwanted one at that. And there was no Hugh Jackman to encourage us with a song and dance. This was pre-Greatest Showman, y’all.
With a few minutes to spare, we made it to the show location on the Strip. My baby had fallen asleep (thanks either to the rocking of our bumpy ride or the contact high from marijuana) and my sister and her oldest lined up right next to us in the crowds of people smushing in to get a glimpse of pirate revelry. As crowds pushed closer together, my girls couldn’t see at all. My sister kindly offered to put my 5-year-old on her shoulders while I mounted my 3-year-old on my own. I stood in front of the stroller, holding my ground, while my family anchored the back so my youngest wasn’t trampled.
By the time the show started, I could hardly move. I’m not generally a claustrophobic type of person (although I have self-diagnosed myself with foot claustrophobia– that will have to be explained in another post) but the odd perfume of alcohol and marijuana, a hefty dose of random body odor, and the mama bear instinct to protect and nurture my kiddos was making every sensation a heightened one.
The show began – just as I remembered – with pirates… and that is where all similarities ended. Well, that isn’t totally true. There were still pirates, and ships, and fire, and cannons, but the show had been re-branded since my tame, 90s childhood and now featured sultry, stripping female pirates dancing and shaking and sexing their way through the seas. And my two girls got a front row-seat for it all, atop the shoulders of my sister and I. And I am honestly not trying to judge these gals but this was not the example I wanted to set for my two daughters.*
*I am a feminist and firm believer that women can do anything they want to do. But it is that exact fact that makes me HATE the objectifying women even more. Sure, I am empowered and free and able to be as sexy as I want or can be, but if it is all to get a rise (pun intended) out of the guys around me, then it is actually a form of slavery. Rant over.
Photo by Flickr/Ben Mason who likely didn’t have three children with him while snagging this shot
So anyway, the lady pirates in the show fought some dude pirates and kicked their butts with sexy moves and sexy outfits and gun powder (I think), but somewhere in the middle of this epic battle, I started to wonder why my daughter had shifted her weight. And then I remembered that my sweet, introverted, recently potty-trained 3-year-old, had not used the restroom in probably about 5 hours. Or more. We had gone straight from birthday party celebrations to stuck in traffic, to running through a casino, to this moment in time. And I just knew it. I knew she was going to pee down my back. I mouthed to my sister: SHE IS GOING TO PEE!!!!! And there was nothing I could do. There was no escape through the crowds. No close family-friendly restroom with a quiet nursing area or clean changing table. This was Vegas. And I was stuck in it.
As the battle raged on the Treasure Island stage, my daughter’s own battle for control of her bladder was sadly lost. And the warm pee not only saturated my clothes and dripped down my back, it also covered the front of my body, both sides, with smelly, toddler urine.
A pre-superstar Kristin Wiig or Maya Rudolph or writer or key grip or someone must have been next to me because I am pretty sure I coined the phrase they eventually used in the film Bridesmaids, “It’s Happening!” I expect a settlement payment if you are reading this, ladies.
The show ended and we waited for the crowd to disperse before peeling my daughter off my shoulders. Instead of heading south to The Mirage to watch the Volcano erupt (Vegas is an odd place), I decided to trek back through the casino and head back to our hotel room.
My family kept their snickers to themselves, at least for the most part, to keep me from crying. I walked, smelly and wet with urine, sore and tired from my quest, to my car and drove us to our hotel, where I quickly showered and changed.
And people say that Vegas isn’t kid-friendly. But I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of weird and crazy experiences in Vegas, but I’ve only once ever been peed on by a kid. Well done, Vegas.
Related: If this misadventure has somehow inspired you to visit Las Vegas with your family, check out Trekaroo’s post on the Top 10 Things to Do in Las Vegas with Kids and/or this Guide to Visiting Las Vegas with Kiddos (written by yours truly).
Lead photo by Flickr/ADTeasdale