Thursday, May 1, 2014

family vacation and other oxymorons

okay. this is a well-worn topic over here at cheesy-town, but that's not going to stop me from saying it again. traveling with children is (or can be): fun, adventurous, entertaining, rewarding, and worthwhile. traveling with children is not: relaxing, rejuvenating, restful, quiet, or serene. traveling with children is not a "vacation."

we went camping last weekend. and by "camping" i mean car-camping at a site overlooking the beach with hot showers and a well-stocked camp store 5 miles from our home and the nearest target. (my parents were actual, legit campers so i feel like i have to add that caveat as they're snickering at me from their perfectly pitched desolation wilderness camp in the sky). it was a really great trip. my brother and sister and her family came along, which was a special treat, and the kids barely lost their minds at all, which was a minor miracle. but i was just chuckling to myself about my mind's stubborn refusal to accept the fact that our lives have changed, a lot. not better. not worse. or, maybe, better AND worse. but mostly just ... different. :)

i had to work friday but DM took the day off to finish packing and setting up camp. i left him and my brother a list of last-minute things they needed to gather, including the following:

"other shinguard"
(jack had a soccer game saturday morning, and one of his shinguards had disappeared into the "other" black hole of children's things, along with other socks, other shoes, and other shreds of mom's sanity)
i also said on my way out, "oh, don't forget to bring cards and other grown-up games." see, in "the old days," DM and i vacationed like it was our job. these adventures usually involved secluded beaches and white sand and rum drinks and naps in the daylight hours. this was also in the era before cell phones and social media ruled our lives. we never watched TV or fell down our individual internet rabbit holes on our smart phones while sitting side-by-side. we played endless games of gin rummy and scrabble and backgammon and chess, and read books and listened to the waves or the wind in the trees. and there was no more perfect place for cards and games than on a camping trip. once DM had exhausted his four-song repertoire on the guitar, we would spend the evenings drinking wine out of plastic cups and playing travel scrabble or rummy by the firelight.

while i know, logically, that trips with the kids are very different than vacations from the days of yore, my subconscious is a little slow on the uptake. hence the request for an array of old-fashioned entertainment for our family camping trip. i get this selective amnesia every time we go on "vacation," and then i am reminded again of the reality that the days of reading on the beach or drinking cold beer while playing lazy games of poker by the campfire, or hell, even just sitting - i really miss sitting - those days are gone. or at least, on sabbatical. by the time we wrangle the crazy kidlets to sleep, which is no small feat when they're hopped up on s'mores and fresh ocean air, and finally succeed at exiting the tent (on the tenth try - our finely honed silent ninja skills seriously compromised - there is no "sneaking" out of a tent), we are so beat it's all we can do to keep our eyes open while we nurse our beers in stunned silence. scrabble?

that is not to say we didn't have a good time. we absolutely did. i think it was one of our most successful trips yet, despite the fact that we were nearly blown off the cliff into the ocean by gale-force winds friday, and spent the night in soggy tents and sleeping bags. but the definition of a good time has definitely been revised for the 21st century ;)

wind: 1, EZ-up tent: 0
"quick! someone take a picture of us! everyone act natural! hurry, before we have to return to our regularly scheduled routine of preventing small children from falling off the cliff into the ocean or getting run over by a car or burned in the campfire or stabbing each other in the eyeballs with marshmallow roasting sticks."
at the end of the day, though ... life is not terrible.

insert requisite inspirational family travel quote here:

"there are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. there are seven million." seeing the world again through the eyes of a child makes these harrowing, sweat- and snot- and tear-soaked adventures worth it. at least, that's what i keep telling myself ;)

just as soon as i recover and finish the laundry from the last one
[source: one kings lane]
the end

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