The summer months will soon be upon us, (if Mother Nature ever decides to make up her friggin' mind) and that means the kids will be home for summer “vacation.” I use the term “vacation” lightly, because, as most parents know, a vacation for the kids does NOT constitute a vacation for the grown-ups. In fact, I think the last time I had a true vacation was on our honeymoon in 1999. Hubby and I had been together so long by the time we actually got married, our honeymoon was essentially a vacation from each other as well. Other couples were makin’ out in the hot tub. Hubby entered the volleyball tournament at the resort while I read my novel, enjoyed a frosty beverage (or 5), and lounged under a beach umbrella. We’d check in with each other after a few hours, because, you know . . . romance and all.
Most vacations I’ve taken since then have included none of the aforementioned accoutrements. I cannot read a novel on the beach for fear of my children drowning, being trapped in a sand hole, or losing an appendage to shark attack. I can’t enjoy a frosty beverage because by the time I actually get to sit down and enjoy it it’s either filled with wayward sand or it is melted to syrupy sludge. And last time we were at the beach the umbrella broke because American beaches are windy. So I spend most of my beach time applying SPF 50 sunscreen, or as I like to call it – a cardigan in a can, and trying to keep my hair out of my mouth.
Our vacations are JUST like this!!!
Our family vacations never quite live up to the standard set by Disney channel commercials. Our children do not sit in the back seat, quietly coloring or making hand waves on the wind outside the window. They argue about whose turn it is to choose the dvd, complain about their excessive hunger, and then announce that they have to use the potty approximately every 30 miles. What did we ever do before the invention of the Swagger Wagon dvd player?
When I was little, we used to drive eight hours from Virginia to upstate New York. My mom was equipped with a bag of sour balls and a hand-held tape recorder, on which we would listen to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” for mile after mile. She would get annoyed because I never understood how Lucille (of you-picked-a-fine-time-to-leave-me-Lucille fame) could have 400 children. “It’s Four. Hungry. Children! For the last time!” Testy, that one. Perhaps it was the un-air-conditioned atmosphere of the Chevy Nova that contributed to my mother’s discomfort. Certainly it wasn’t the endless loop of Kenny Rogers tunes on the cassette tape; that man is a musical genius.
Car trips are going to be the death of me, and it’s not the kids. It’s the spouse. Every time we stop for gas he buys snacks for the boys. Never mind that I’ve packed healthy snacks for the trip. Apparently they need king-size chocolate bars and 24-ounce Gatorades, and then Hubby gets annoyed that they have to pee. This is why I totally endorse dehydrating my children on long car trips. Also, I am from the school of thought that believes it necessary to travel from Virginia to Florida in TWO days. Not one.
I am a planner. I am a woman who keeps 3 running calendars – one for the kitchen whiteboard, one on my phone, and a day runner. It should come as no surprise that I think we should plan ahead and make hotel reservations. On our most recent trip to Florida, on which The Plan was to wing it and just stop when we got tired, we found ourselves on a stretch of Interstate 95 in South Carolina in a heavy rainstorm, trying to get a hotel room at the same time as every other weary traveler. When I got to the lobby to register, there were 12 other guests in front of me. We finally got to our room and played a quick game of Identify That Smell.
Um, I’m gonna go with cat urine for the Win.
The boys were bouncing on one of the two double beds on which our family of five would be sleeping, trying to release 12 hours’ worth of pent-up energy, while I yelled at them to NOT touch the bedspread because I was having flashbacks of a Dateline NBC investigative report involving black lights. I slept in my clothes, and I dared not open the mini-fridge, lest I find something that the previous tenant left behind. Like a human head or something.
I am grateful for the change of scenery and the opportunity to travel with my family, but there’s something to be said for clean sheets, a “headless” refrigerator, and having a plan.