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Summer Splash | BILL PLASCHKE

Keeping the Kids Happy

May 25, 2000|BILL PLASCHKE | Bill Plaschke is a columnist for the Sports section

Summer morning in the angelic city. The sun spray-paints a poem on the wall behind our tousled heads. An ocean breeze gently lifts the bottoms of the bedroom sheets, which rustle us awake to another soul-beckoning day.

We pad downstairs, collect the dew-streaked newspaper, nestle in the swinging chair overlooking the garden--such healthy cilantro this season!--and ask our two favorite summertime questions.

What to do? What to do?

Do we start with bagels from that reading room on Robertson, or fresh fruit from the Deco cart of that bearded sage on the corner of Beverly?

After that, our task is ambitious but clear. A jazz-country fusion lunch concert in Santa Monica. An ancient artifacts exhibit downtown. A Loz Feliz dinner with friends. Then afterward, under a Southern California sliver of a moon, we'll . . .

I'm sorry.

I'm making all that up.

I'm sorry, but I read stories in this section about how celebrities spend their leisure time in Los Angeles, and I get caught up in dreaming about how that could be my leisure time.

In a span of one weekend, these people cover hundreds of miles, attend several unpronounceable events, eat at at least two restaurants with no discernible signs and do it all on roller-blades.

Not to mention, not once do any of them mention having three young children, which would make it impossible to cover more than 10 miles, attend any event for more than 10 minutes and eat at any restaurants that do not have menus dominated by photographs of the food.

In order to truthfully recommend how to make a splash in Los Angeles this summer beyond a few good hours of sleep, I'm going to have to mention having three young children.

Let's try this again.

Summer morning in the City of Angels. Not the town, the taped TV show, which is currently playing on the VCR, which was turned on by the 5-year-old, who is now screaming because she thought it was one of our five cartoon versions of the Old Testament, specifically the one with God as George Jetson.

My wife and I sprint downstairs to break up a fight between a 10-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy over a 25-cent telescope that has, by the looks of the piles of brightly colored cereal on the tile floor, just cost us a $4 box of the inappropriately named Lucky Charms.

We begin this fine summer day as we begin all fine summer days: With my wife shouting, "Out! Out! Out!" and the children scurrying for the Kentucky Fried Chicken-mobile.

That would be our minivan, which smells like the late colonel's restaurants, no matter how many times it is doused with a personalized air freshener best described as Cherry Slurpee.

We open the newspaper in the front seat and ask our two favorite questions.

What to do? OK, who dumped their Danimals Yogurt all over the part of the newspaper that tells us what to do?

But, hey, it is summer. And there is stuff out there. And if it can get us out of the house and the car and our five desperate lives, we'll do it.

If it's June 7, we should head to the Southern California premiere of the "Blue's Clues Live Tour" (San Diego Civic Center June 7-11, Orange County Performing Arts Center June 21-25).

If you've never seen Nickelodeon's hit preschooler series featuring a dog and his pal Steve, then you'll have no idea how happy I'll be to watch someone else dance in front of my children singing one of the trademark songs, "I just got a letter, I just got a letter. . . ." My children will be equally thrilled to see someone sing it in something other than shorty pajamas.

On June 10, it's time to go north to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for the exhibition "Nam June Paik: Video Art Pioneer."

We're very cultured in this family. Besides, who can turn down an exhibition featuring a sculpture consisting of 24 color televisions! I just hope it comes with 24 remote controls. And afterward, the children can unwind (translated: get sleepy for the car ride home) by tooling around Santa Barbara's beachfront on those funky bikes.

The next thing that works is a trip east, to the Pomona Fairplex, to the Kaboom! Independence Day Celebration on July 4.

While many of our friends celebrate the holiday at the beach, we always try to find a place that is most representative of towns across America. The pier isn't it. Pomona is.


There will be elephant ears, bad country music, face painting, sweat trickling and a long-haired, tattooed ride operator who will undoubtedly stop the Tilt-a-Whirl in mid-spin and lift out our crying 5-year-old as she gasps that she will be big enough "next year!" Like I said, America.

A week later, on July 10, our attention turns to the Hollywood Bowl to catch one of the weekday "World Treasures and Tales," a participatory performance hosted by storyteller David Prather as part of the 32nd annual open house.

We'll do this not so much for the "treasures" or "tales" or "open house." We'll do this for the "weekday." The only thing harder than getting the children to bed on a summer Friday night is getting them outside on a Monday morning.

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