It's that time of year again- VACATION! We are so very lucky to be jetting internationally this summer. That's right, we're headed north of the border to spend some time with my in-laws who presently reside in Canada.
We've been planning our trip for months and have already begun preparations. I've made packing lists and checked for our passports twice a day for the past several weeks. I check weather.com frequently to help refine our packing list and have browsed the TSA site for any new updates to what we can, and can't, carry on with us.
I have prepared a binder containing our flight details, travel insurance information, and copies of other important documents. And, I'll confess, we're days out, and I've already got the girls' bag packed and ready by the front door. I've established our ETD from home, have snacks planned and at-the-ready, and have discussed in-flight entertainment with Andy. (No- not the mile-high club! What have you been reading, 50 Shades of Grey?) Andy has agreed to download Barney and Barbie onto the iPad. Given my militant ability to organize us, I am confident that, when the time comes, we'll be ready to go with nothing else to think about but having fun, right?
According to Webster's dictionary, a vacation is: leisure time way from work, devoted to rest and pleasure. It derives from the Latin expression "to be free from service or duty." Ugh. I just have so many issues with this definition, or at least with its American interpretation. I have decided, in our house, we will not refer to vacations. Instead, we will say that we will be, "away from home", "traveling as a family", or to simply quote my own email, "out of the office".
How many people take a real vacation as it has been defined and practiced for centuries? In the period of crazy technology, when we are always plugged in, always accessible, how many employees actually take time away from work, to relax and rest to the fullest? Convincing Andy not to work while "away from the office" is a moot point. In fact, the other night, he told me that he scheduled a conference call for one afternoon during our trip because there was just no other time that would work. When I asked him why he didn't tell his colleagues that he was going on vacation, he gave me a blank stare and said, "People need me." Oh, Andy, Mr. Important Andy. In anger, I told him I wasn't going to go anymore and felt adamant about my decision until a few moments later when one of my students texted me a question about an internship and I spent the next 20 minutes texting with her about it. At night. During my furlough. It seems the majority of us have a hard time devoting ourselves entirely to rest or pleasure when our job duties are a click, ding, or buzz away.
Now, let's tackle that etymology, which tells us that a vacation is time free from duty or service. It must be that folks in the 1300's vacationed all by themselves in remote islands with servants because that's the only way I can envision a time devoid of duty or service.
Some crazy people I know go camping on vacation. That always confused and upset me. Why would you spend your free time, your R&R time, setting up a place to sleep and eat, trying to make toast over an open flame, peeing in the woods, and fearing it will rain, therefore forcing you to sleep in a wet, moldy tent? How about those lunatics who take their kids to Disney? There's nothing more full of rest and pleasure than standing for two hours in line during 100 degree heat to see animatronics sing, "It's a small, small world!" Oh, and pay $5 for a bottle of water and $6 for an ice cream cone that takes 10 seconds to melt sideways down your kid's hand and splat onto their sandal spiraling her into a shrieking, whining frenzy.
Parents, do I even need to go into what it's like to travel with children? Taking them out of their element, waking then up at ungodly hours, shuttling them through airports, sleeping in new places, and traipsing around strange cities- it's a recipe for tantrums and meltdowns for children and parents alike.
Am I wrong? Is a vacation changing a blowout diaper in your seat, on a plane, while you sit elbows-touching with a disgusted businessman? Is vacation hearing your kid whine loudly that she has to PEE SOOO BAAAAAD THAT IT'S BURNING AND COMING OUT NOOOOW! as soon as the fasten seat belt sign lights up? Is vacation sitting in a hotel room, in the dark, at 7pm, because you and your kid are all in one room and it's your kid's bedtime. And your kid stands up in her pack 'n' play and stares at you while you try to drink a Mike's Hard Lemonade and read a book under the blanket? Is vacation being nowhere near a store when you have just weaned your baby and forgot your new bottle back at home? Is vacation applying sunscreen to your kids 5 times in an afternoon outing at the beach only to realize at 5pm that you forgot to put any on yourself? OUCH. Oh yeah, add your story here because you know you have one, and its likely way worse than any of the ones I just listed.
Don't get me wrong. I'm incredibly eager and excited to see family and partake in tourist activities and I'm no stranger to travel with kids. As a matter of fact, we flew to Puerto Rico for a wedding when Caroline was only 4 weeks old. I said then, and still agree, that is was much better to wake up at 4 am and nurse Caro while walking the beach than it was to huddle in a bed in cold Upstate. We all need a change of pace and scenery, and that's what travel does.
So, unless I am alone on a beach with a book and a margarita, and after a day of sunbathing and swimming with dolphins, I return to my bungalow to a meal made just for me and a masseuse on hand, then I am not on vacation!