Parade fatigue hit earlier than expected this year. Ruby, my mom, and I hit the Saturday parades, and honestly, just by the time we’d walked the approximately 8,000 miles between where we parked and St. Charles Avenue, I was pretty much done. And then the whining started. Ruby complained that she wasn’t catching anything goooooood. The bands were too loooooudddd. No one was throwing anything to herrrrrr.

Oh, my God, I hate whining. I can handle tantrums. I can withstand the endless litany of “why? why? why?” with relatively good humor intact. I can negotiate with toddlers with aplomb. But I cannot stand whining.  

And it wasn’t just Ruby. All around us were children in various stages of melting down, mostly due to overstimulation and too much King Cake/cotton candy/candy apples, I guess. I overheard one mother telling her 5-year-old that if he didn’t cool it, she was putting him in a cab back home by himself, and I think she meant it.

Besides the whining, there were various physical injuries. While my mom was trying to hoist Ruby onto her shoulders, Ruby accidentally slammed her butt into Mom’s nose, not hard enough to break it but hard enough to cause a good deal of pain. Ruby herself suffered a skinned knee while scrabbling for a doubloon and damn near lost a hand trying to get a Tootsie Roll pop. And I, in a moment of hubris, tried to give my mom a break and lift Ruby onto my 5-foot frame, which would have ended in disaster if not for a stranger behind me lending a literal hand. As it was, I did something unpleasant to my back in the course of the whole ordeal, and it still twinges almost a week later.

By the time the fire truck rolled, we were all completely and utterly over it. Even I was whining to my mom as we walked (10,000 miles) back to the car. “My back huuuuurts,” I told her. “I’m thirstyyyyyyy. Next year, let’s leave town for Mardi Graaaaaaaas.”

Parades are like pregnancy and childbirth, I think – you forget the agony over time and eventually think it might be a good idea to do it again. Then, in the thick of it, you remember how much you hated it before.

We sat out parades on Sunday due to the weather, and we skipped weeknight parades because of school and other obligations. But this weekend – well, Le Krewe d’Etat is my favorite, and Endymion rolls right in my neighborhood, and Thoth is always a great time, too …

So when Ruby asked me, “Mom, are we going to parades this weekend?” I just looked at her.

“Don’t be silly, Ru,” I said. “Of course we are.”

I can’t wait.

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!