This past December, my husband and I took our two twenty-something-year-old kids on a vacation to St. Croix. I love vacationing as a family but the older your kids get the more opinionated they become on what is considered vacation worthy and what isn’t. Fun for my daughter is a beach. Fun for my son is anything BUT the beach. It gets a little heated between those two and telling them to face the wall and think about their behavior and tone doesn’t work anymore. My dream of being The Walton’s had faded long ago.
So in past vacations it usually came down to my husband and son claiming any activity with the word extreme in front of it, and my daughter and I sitting on a beach with an extreme tiki bar.
But this vacation was different. I thought someone had kidnapped my children, replacing them with siblings who could actually agree on something. When did this happen? It certainly hadn’t happened all through grade school when I paid my son to be nice to his sister for the babysitter. It hadn’t happened when I paid my daughter to play NASCAR on GameCube with her brother. And for all of you who say bribery will get you no where… guess again. I was constantly asking my husband for $20.
It’s expensive trying to be the Walton’s.
During this vacation we went to tiki bars….TOGETHER! We went to beaches TOGETHER! Both wanted to ride wave runners and ride on ATV’s…TOGETHER! I was dumfounded. Was that my daughter covered in mud and laughing as her brother deliberately ran through every single mud puddle? When the Captain on a boat trip to an outer island invited my son to ride up on the bridge, his only question was, “can I bring my sister?”
Turning to my husband wide eyed, I said, “Did you bribe them to be nice to each other? Is that why you’re always searching for your wallet? Did he really say, “Can I bring my sister”?
OMG we were the freaking Waltons!
I always pictured a life with my grown children living close enough to drop in whenever they wanted, to come for Sunday dinner. But my son was switching jobs and had accepted a position in California and my daughter, who would soon be graduating college, had accepted a job in Boston. Those sweet childhood years would be in my rear view mirror and my role as Mom was changing. It’s a turning of the page, I guess.
At the end of our vacation both kids presented my husband and me with a thoughtful and generous gift; but they could have saved their money. Their friendship with each other was priceless. Their greatest gift to us was their laughter I heard through the walls long after we had gone to bed. It filled me up with such happiness it’s hard to describe. Despite their bickering all those years it was evident they were their own biggest fans. My daughter told me it had always been so, that bickering and siblings go together. Imagine the money I could have saved.
As we were getting ready to leave for the airport to catch our flight home and thinking we should be singing kumbaya, my son looked at my daughter and said, “You are not going to the airport in those shorts.” And then my daughter looked at my son and said….
I can’t really repeat what she said.
I’m not expecting perfection.
After all, the Walton’s aren’t a real family.