Category Archives: vacation

Laughter through the walls

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Laughter through the walls

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 laughter1my 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.

laughter2It’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 laughter4a 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….facebookheart

Well…

I can’t really repeat what she said.

I’m not expecting perfection.

After all, the Walton’s aren’t a real family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it time for your nap?

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Isn’t it time for your nap?

I recently wrote about vacationing with your kids and how it’s not a vacation unless you leave them home, (http://tracybuckner.com Vacation? Not So Much, 12/13) so my husband and I decided to try vacationing without them. We left everyone to fight over the last loaf of bread and gallon of milk in Shop-Rite before another impending storm.

jamaica2There’s nothing like Jamaica in February. Sun and rum drinks. We booked an all-adult resort which meant no teenagers texting in the hot tub, and no 2-year-olds in the pool in their swimmy diapers which promise to “keep it all in.” Trust me, “keeping it all in” is a myth.

After boarding a 6 AM flight and not arriving at the resort until that evening thanks to a brewing storm, I was ready for a glass of wine, a fabulous dinner, and a beautiful sunset. My husband lovingly looked at me, took my hand and said, “Do you want to play ping-pong?”

The next morning…Do you want to paddle board, go snorkeling, we could scuba dive, hit the gym, ride a wave runner, why don’t we take a kayak out? Me to him: Why don’t you take a nap?

We set ourselves up under an umbrella and as I longingly looked at my yet unopened book, we walked to the activity jamaica3hut. Wait…aren’t activity huts for kids? All these years I was under the misconception that my kids needed us for a successful vacation, when in reality it was my husband who needed them even more.

While other couples were being served drinks as they relaxed beach-side, I was being outfitted with flippers and a face mask. We spent the first morning snorkeling. That afternoon – kayaking. That night – ping pong, again.
Marriage is all about compromise I told myself. My time would come. Perhaps there was a giant shovel I could find so he could dig a hole. Or I could use it to hit him over the head. Or perhaps I could fly my son down.

The next morning I left my book in our room. We went paddle boarding. Then, while my husband went wind surfing it was my chance to sit on the beach and summon that waiter. I didn’t have my book but I didn’t have my husband either. My vacation had begun.

But just as I was relaxing on the beach I realized I couldn’t spot him on the water. It was like having a lost child. Where is he? I stood up, nervous, heart racing. I paced the beach scanning the horizon ready to call the National Guard or whatever they have in Jamaica for tourists gone wild. Then he appeared, happily riding a wave in. I felt like that mom who loses their child and when reunited wants to hug them and throttle them at the same time. WHERE IS THAT WAITER? WHERE IS THAT SHOVEL?

jamaica6That afternoon was spent on a wave runner. I gave my book to the maid. “Isn’t this great?” he screamed to me over the roar off the engine. My hair whipping across my face. Surgery imminent for my neck. I gave him a thumbs-up. Isn’t marriage grand?

I am never traveling without my kids again.

Then, a miracle. We met a couple from Manitoba, Canada. She also had that dazed look on her face like she was looking for a playmate for her husband. It was a match made in rum heaven. She liked to read and apply suntan lotion. He liked beach volleyball and anything except sitting on a beach. Soon it was like putting our kids on the bus. “Play nice with each other,” we said as we waved goodbye to them every morning.

Finally, we could vacation as we wanted and our Ladies Group had grown. Apparently I wasn’t the only one looking to do damage with a shovel. I borrowed a book since the maid was enjoying mine.

Reunited with my husband in the late afternoons, I was happy and he was tired. At night there were sunset sailboat cruises, a disco, and a piano bar where everyone was expected to sing, and believe me you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Born in the USA sung with a Jamaican accent. With our new friends all around us, it was a fun and memorable adult-only vacation. Happiness can be found after your kids are grown up and gone!

On our last night we enjoyed a wonderful romantic dinner while sipping wine and watching the stunning sunset. My husband lovingly looked at me, took my hand and said, “wanna go down the water slide?” jamaica8

VACATION? Not so much.

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VACATION? Not so much.

I was sitting in Newark Airport with my family getting ready to board a flight to our vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico. Sitting next to me was a family with 2 kids, ages 2 and 4. They had strollers, car seats, crayons, coloring books, teddy bears, sand trucks, blankets, juice cups, goldfish crackers, etc. I had 2 kids in tow, ages 18 and 21 with 2 iPods. I smiled to myself thinking my vacation would be a real vacation. I could relax and I wouldn’t have to haul anything. baby stuff 1

What I soon came to realize was that it’s never a relaxing vacation unless you leave your kids home.

Having breakfast the next morning at our hotel, I heard a mom of toddlers say, “let’s go to the pool! “Yay!!”, the kids replied. “Let’s go to the beach!” I heard another young mom say. “Yay!!” her kids replied. At this age you speak, they listen. You go, they follow. Not once did I hear, “mom your wearing THAT on the beach?” There are smiles all around.

I tried for the “smiles all around” effect but the pool is boring for my son yet sounds great to my daughter. Swimming at the beach is too cold for my daughter but my son is all for it. ATVing is great for my son but my daughter would prefer to go horseback riding.

My husband and I both felt like King Solomon. Which child do we get rid of?scales

I wondered if we just dug a giant hole in the sand and gave them shovels and trucks if that would make them happy like it used to. But then I remembered…I didn’t bring any shovels or trucks.

Going on a family vacation with adult children is quite different from a vacation with young children. With young children you are all going down the same road. Yes, you probably need a U-Haul trailer just to get to the beach, but it’s the same road and most importantly there is no negotiation.

With our vacation everyone wanted a different road. Some wanted to take the extreme ATV road while others wanted to take the snorkeling road. Some chose the off-road racing on the Baja road while others chose the sunset cruise road. There was the deep-sea fishing road instead of the spa road. How about LETS TAKE A NAP ROAD? Do I hear a “Yay?”

Why was I so smug as I watched that young couple wrestle with their strollers and car seats. Surely it’s easier when a coloring book and a juice box make them happy. Throw in a few goldfish and they’re ecstatic.

Then there are the night time activities. With young children the nighttime activity is a bath and a book. Bedtime is 7:30.nap

Night time activities with adult children are quite a different story. They want to go out…INTO THE NIGHT….ALONE….IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY…AND DRINK MARGARITAS….

When the clock strikes midnight and my kids still haven’t returned, I find myself thinking of that young family probably all snuggly in their hotel room. The parents are probably relaxed and sipping wine on their balcony.

I hate them.

Meals thankfully were not an issue. Nevertheless, with 4 decision makers there was always a debate over when to eat and what to eat. At one point (possibly dreaming of pre-school days), I suggested we pick from a hat.

When they were little the meal time discussion went something like this…”let’s have noodles with butter for dinner!” “Yay” they would reply.

And then the incredible happened. With so much left over food in the refrigerator and all of us tired from traveling down our many different roads, we decided, AS A FAMILY, to stay in and eat the leftovers. We pulled all the food out, set the table up on the patio, put the iPod in the docking station and actually agreed on the music (Bob Marley). We laughed looking at all the pictures we had taken; we talked about hoping to do this again next year. margaritas

“Let’s have margaritas!” my husband said. “Yay!” they replied!

You can follow Tracy on facebook at Tracy Buckner: aging, kids, and why we self-medicate, or at http://tracybuckner.com