The evolution of a vacationing with my kids goes something like this….
The week prior to departure I am busy creating piles all over my dining room table. I make lists upon lists, and buy enough snacks to feed an army…or two kids on a five hour flight. Cameras are charged, backup batteries are charged, and electronic chargers are searched out from the far corners of my house. The week leading up to vacation all travelers are required to wear their second string clothes, because the A-Game clothing is coming with us. We’re all one step away from wearing draperies and swinging in trees along an Austrian roadway.
I begin packing two days before departure, ensuring each child has clean/stain free clothes, backup clothes, and enough clothes in the carry on luggage should our luggage be lost (this is a new addition to my routine, because our luggage did get lost). Medications are filled, old antibiotics are scrounged around the house for the “Just in Case” illness that will surely come if I am not prepared. Gallon ziplock bags are filled with every potential crisis contingency…rashes, bug bites, ear infections, flu, fevers, allergies, indigestion, diarrhea, check…check…and check.
The day of departure, I clean the house, because no one wants to come home to a stye. Our two dogs are dropped off at the kennel with brand new bags of dog food because I am too lazy to count out 10 days worth of food per large beast. I gas the car up, hit the bank, double check I have passports, paperwork, photo copies of everything, and then triple check it.
The kids and I drive three hours to the airport to check into our hotel for our morning flight. Unloading the trunk I realize we are short a critical bag, I left it at home. I proceed to teach my children new words for their ever expanding vulgarities vocabulary, call my husband and kindly request said bag be driven roundtrip six hours. Realize I am on thin ice, but since I’m vacationing solo with the kids there is not much he can say…especially since the bag holds the medications that will ensure all three of us arrive back home, in one piece, at the same time.
On the airplane we are all seated in the same row, because I purchased the preferred seating to ensure there was no issue. Throughout the flight I dutifully dole out gum and candy. I’ve packed all the favorite snacks, and my son’s ear phones are equipped with new batteries. Movies are downloaded, books are packed, and cards are too. Upon arrival I demand my kid stand in line at customs and say, “No you may not go search the airport for money” a bazillion times, and yet I can guarantee there will be a bazillion and one times coming shortly.
Arriving at the hotel I unpack all the bags, put the clothes away, and snacks are removed from carry ons before the kids suit up for the pool. I ensure a proper amount of sunscreen is applied to each child, and I bring a towel for everyone, and an extra towel “Just in Case”. Heading to the pool I come equipped with goggles, ice cold water for the kids, and a beer for me. Ahhh…
Fast forward to day six of the vacation…
Kids are in pool, with no sunscreen on, unless the remnants of yesterday’s counts because they haven’t bathed in days. The ocean is like a big bath right? I watch them closely from the hotel room balcony…across the parking lot…while I read a book and glance in their direction every time I hear someone scream. I randomly wave, so that other’s think I am paying attention…I’m not. I act like I can’t hear them when they repeatedly request towels and goggles, and instead just smile and wave until they stop bothering me.
I yell their names across the complex, by now everyone knows them anyway, telling them it’s time for dinner. I throw random shit in bags, we are leaving in the morning and nothing is packed. There is no me, his, or her bag…there is just our communal bag of disgustingness. I assume my kids are headed to the room after screaming their names, but you know I really don’t care. They can eat dinner in their swimsuits for all it matters. They have BROKEN ME. I am a shell of the person who arrived a week earlier. I haven’t put makeup on in four days, my hair is permanently in a bun, and my clothes are now getting the “sniff…it’s clean” test.
The next day at the airport I let the kid scrounge the floors for change, what’s the worst that can happen? I tune them out as they argue over who has the window seat and smile when I realize I am in the neighboring aisle seat. When they tell me they’re hungry I find a sandy slim jim on the bottom of my bag and a few caramel Nips. I lean back and fake being asleep for the next three hours as I replay the amazing week we had and count down the days until we can do it all again.
Disclaimer: My kids were never in any danger. They are 11 and 12 (almost 13) years old. They are both certified in scuba diving, with my 12 year old being Advanced Jr. Open Water certified. They are both strong swimmers, please do not ever leave young children, or a child who is not comfortable in the open water alone.