Vacation. It’s a funny word these days in this house. As parents of three-year olds, my wife and I define vacation as pretty much any time we get to spend alone outside the normal bounds of our daily routine. An occasional dinner, for instance. Or even an overnight somewhere. But the old definition of vacation – taking a trip somewhere for a week or two – doesn’t really apply as a parent. Vacation, in the traditional definition, isn’t really vacation. Things like grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, showering or driving to work become “vacation.” Simply put, vacation for us right now is just parenting somewhere else and hoping beyond hope that everything goes remotely normal.
You hope for “remotely normal” because the odds are pretty much stacked against you. Remotely normal, in fact, would be an enormous win for many parents. Here’s what you’re generally looking at:
- You’re probably going somewhere with less space.
- You have less of their toys and books to use as weapons of mass soothing – you just can’t bring it all unless you’re J-Lo or Julia Roberts.
- Many kids don’t adapt well to a wholesale change in overall environment.
- You’re dealing with multiple three year olds. I shouldn’t have to explain that one, should I?
I am here to tell you that our vacation wasn’t even remotely normal. I can’t, by definition, say it sucked. But I can tell you it wasn’t ideal. But I don’t want to bog you down with all those gory details. Oh hell, yes I do! If I had to deal with it, you do too. It rained pretty much 5 out of 7 days. That was rather evil, as numbers 1 and 2 above were greatly exacerbated by mother nature, that bitch. You were so good to us all summer long and so mean to us on our vacation week. We shake a finger at you. You can pick which one. So the weather didn’t help. It even caused one of us to make a trip home to pick up fall/winter clothes since the temps didn’t get past 65 for 3 of those days.
So yeah, that basically means that all four of those bullets above were operating full steam! That’s not good for anybody, really. The level of exhaustion was pretty dramatic. While we’re on the subject of dramatic, I should also mention how whiny a couple of three year olds can be. I should also mention I am not without fault. Because when you’re dealing with two whiny three-year-olds, you’re definitely getting a whiny 39 year-old as a result. Time doesn’t go by fast enough for anyone when you’re shut in for 3.5 days. At the beach.
OK, now – the good! Yes, there was good! We went to Plum Island, our vacation of choice each year. We just love Plum Island. It’s really an awesome little place. Every year we dream about having our own vacation house there! Anyway, if it rains (and boy did it rain) there are choices for the little ones. So if it wasn’t for the the mass of electric train sets at the Wenham Museum, the tidal pool creatures exhibit at the Joppa Flats, the clean, friendly people at Leo’s Super Bowl in Amesbury, MA or Gram’s in Newburyport, whose ice cream rivals some of the best I’ve had, this “vacation” could very well have been, well, shorter than a week. The sun finally arrived on Thursday and we did get to spend Thursday and Friday outside and at the beach, so it improved a bit, but the WHINING! Good golly gee, man. The whining.
But you know what? We’re going back next year, if only to capture moments like these:
and yes…….this, the ubiquitous self-portrait: