For the last six years, our family has travelled almost exclusively to visit with friends and relations. Until last weekend, we have avoided the proverbial family vacation, because, let’s be honest, would you want to vacation with these clowns?
That’s not to say we haven’t had a vacation. Dan and I got away without the aforementioned clowns for a whole week in February. And just last week, I flew down to South Carolina to lay by the pool with cousins Kate and Suzanne, for four whole days, ALL BY MYSELF. Several friends (the kind who take their children with them) asked if I was nervous leaving the little peppers behind. To tell the truth, I was very nervous….nervous that I would be stopped! I felt like a drug smuggler going through security. I tried so hard to look nonchalant, like I do this all the time, lest TSA stop me and send me back home.
All that to say: last weekend, our first real family vacation, was a major milestone. I am pinching myself, because, who would have thought, we had fun!
We would not have attempted the vacation, but we have friends who have connections at a resort two hours north and they offered us a room for the weekend.
While at the resort, we took the kids on their first boat ride. We all swam. The kids played in the sand. I sat in the sun. And Dan and Charlie hit the competitive sports.
Ping pong was always Charlie’s first choice. He doesn’t make a lot of contact with the ping pong ball, but he would stand there swinging for as long as Dan would keep hitting balls at him. There was a lot of muttering of “Don!” and “Oh Don it!” on Charlie’s end.
(We aren’t sure why he says, “Don”. Is he confused about “Darn”? We have no idea where he picked it up, but “Don” has been his go-to word for a couple of months now.)
Dan and Charlie also enjoyed throwing darts in the resort’s pizza parlor. Charlie’s darts usually did not make contact with the dartboard (“Don it!”), but he loved darts. He did throw one glorious bulls-eye. Elizabeth suggested we call the news.
In addition to ping-pong and darts, there were several close croquet matches. Playing croquet with Miss P was a real exercise in patience for Charlie.
Perhaps the only thing more maddening than playing croquet with Miss P is playing croquet with Annie.
Dan’s own exercise in patience came when he made the mistake of helping Elizabeth to the top of a blow-up water slide. As soon as she was squarely seated at the top, she panicked and, screaming at the top of her lungs, would not let go of the handles. It was a strange predicament because, although she was not at all high, she could only be reached from the climbing wall side of the slide, which made it impossible to lift her down without letting go of the hand holds and falling off backwards.
Dan, hanging on the climbing wall, made the slide tilt towards him, making it impossible for him to climb onto the top with her without knocking her off. He held on like an awkward spider man for about twenty minutes, to the amusement of everyone on the beach, until he finally pried her fingers loose and tumbled down with her. She made her way back to the beach wailing like a siren.
Although she was soon quite happy building sand castles, she would pause periodically for the next few hours, to raise a finger and remind me that, contrary to all appearances, she still had not “recovered from her shock”.
After her shock, Elizabeth wanted nothing to do with the water toys, so Dan stayed with her and Annie, while Charlie, Miss P, and I enjoyed a wild ride around the lake on the “banana taxi”. The banana taxi is a long yellow tube that you sit on like a horse, with a bunch of people you don’t know, and try not to get thrown off. The boat driver instructed us to give a thumbs up if we wanted to go faster. I was terrified, but Miss P kept punching her little fist in the air with a “thumbs up”, while Charlie held on for dear life hollering, “Oh Don! Oh Don!”. She’s a wild one, that little P.
As thrilling as all this activity was, if you ask the kids, they will probably tell you the high-light of the trip was waking up and watching T.V. in a hotel bed. It was their first time to experience this joy. A rite of passage for every traveller.
I think it was a bold move, taking these four to a resort like that. But they did not let us down.
Or at least, these three did not let us down.
We did have some trouble with our Baby Dear.
It was like she had a sixth sense, always managing to do something weird (like loudly announcing her “poo-poos”, taking her clothes off at the wrong time, or running at top speed into glass) just as our gracious host, in official capacity, was coming into view. But I can’t be too hard on her. She skipped her nap both Saturday and Sunday and stayed up extra late with “her kids” (as she calls them) for the bonfire. I remarked to Dan that she was holding up so well considering she has never, in all her two years of life, skipped a nap.
Dan informed me that, in fact, she has skipped her nap many times.
“I was, shall we say, a little more hands off while you were away,” he explained.
Does this bother me? Not one bit. Any man that will let me take off for days at a time, and report that things are “great” every time I call, can do anything he Don well pleases.
We concluded our momentous family vacation with an extended session at the raspberry patch. Where the kids, who love berries, enjoyed all the raspberries they could possibly eat.
Betsy happened to call while we were picking. When I told her what the kids were doing, she predicted, “You’ll be seeing those raspberries again.”
And, in fact, we did see those raspberries again, sooner than we had hoped, at a gas station on the way home. Annie was undisturbed by the emergency stop. She got all settled in with her coloring book for the return trip, but was snoring, marker in hand about five minutes into the drive.
All told, the trip was a big success, one we hope to repeat annually. We are now happily back at home, where we will spend the next several days resting and recovering. Vacationing really takes it out of you!