The boys have a fall break from school this week. Yes, they’ve only been in for three and a half weeks but it’s pre-school and who the heck am I to complain? I decided I did not want to entertain the kids for three solid days so we came to the beach. Certainly it makes more sense right? I mean, what’s an eight hour drive to the beach with a four year old, a one and a half year old, husband and dog. Easy as pie! Totally can handle that.
Now, as any parent knows, packing for a trip when you have kids, especially really small kids, is no easy task. It’s like moving a small army. There’s no get up and go ’cause that already got up and went. It takes careful planning and can cause much stress and anxiety.
Most of the gear was staged to get packed the night before departure – pack and play, booster seat, luggage, TWO strollers, dog food, dog, toys etc. – and husband began to pack the car. This began a series of grunts, grumbles and what I suspect were a lot of criticisms geared toward me. Oh, you mean you wanted me to pack our snacks in the cooler and not a plastic bag? I’m happy to oblige but it’s generally helpful if you TELL that to me. Husband drops something on his foot – my fault though I’m nowhere around. I ask to help and grousing begins. How dare I insult his packing sensibilities! Really, dude? I was just trying to help. I leave and I’m still in trouble. Really, you want me to hang out? I think not. I’d rather hang out with the screeching toddler and whiny four year old. And for good measure a glass of wine. The bottle is open and it’ll go bad if I don’t drink it. Maybe even all of it.
So after a rough start we go to sleep so we’re rested for the big day. Morning comes and there is more of the same general chaos. The four year old is running around the house in circles all. morning. long. The toddler is chasing him. The dog is whining. I’m trying to get everyone fed and gather up the rest of our gear. Yes, more gear. And if my suitcase is packed before my hair dryer and flat iron get in there, then yes, there will be another bag for it. And yes, you’ll have to pack it. And yes, I suspect you’ll be unhappy about that as well.
More generally crabbiness was directed towards me and I was on the verge of sending husband, the kids and the dog to the beach without me. I’ll happily be a hermit for a week. Serenity now. I can just feel it! My sewing machine was trying to woo me. I could just hear it and nothing else. Ahhhh…..
But that’s unrealistic so I get into the car. I’m tired since I’ve only had one cup of coffee and I must limit intake of liquids since I’ve had two kids and my bladder just isn’t what it was once. Never mind that the person that insisted upon that rule downed more than one soft drink that morning and was the reason we had to make our first stop. And who am I to complain? I don’t make the rules but I have to follow them.
We immediately begin to discuss our hectic morning and inevitably that leads to more arguing. I’d filled the car up with gas the afternoon before we left and the trip odometer read 3.8 miles.
Longest. Four. Mile. Vacation. EVER.
I couldn’t believe all the preparation, packing and planning we’d done and thus far it led to a lot of grief, anxiety and unhappiness. “They” say vacation is good for you but I swear! I think it leads more than a few couples to a therapist or divorce lawyer. We hadn’t even made it to I-20. I wanted a drink but knew I couldn’t imbibe because it was nine in the morning but mostly because of the aforementioned limiting liquids rule. Martini anyone?
The four year old was great along the way. Just great! Thank goodness for the DVD player in our minivan. Yes, I drive a mini-van and it’s the best car ever! At least right now. The toddler was his usual spit-fire self. Bored, facing backwards, hungry but mostly tired and not sleeping. He took a one hour nap. One hour. Usually I get at least two from him. And what happens when you cross a bored toddler with a tired toddler?
Screeching. Screeching happens.
And lots of it. I think husband and I sang songs half the way to the ocean to keep Q Man calm. I thought I was going to lose my voice, which, in and of itself isn’t that horrible. Though if I wanted to lose something it would have been my hearing at that point. The high pitched screeching is like fingernails on a chalkboard. I would have ignored it if I could but who the heck can ignore a noise like that when you are trapped in a car? It’s a big car, sure, but it’s not that big.
The madness, screeching and how much longer till we’re there’s were all worth it when we took our boys onto the beach. Little Mister has been to the beach before. This one in fact since we’re staying in husband’s grandmother’s condo* but Q Man saw the ocean for the first time.
And he loved it! The little dude took off running to the water. All smiles.
And once again I was in love with my family.
* Nana has owned this condo since the 1960’s. Husband grew up coming to this beach and I love that we can share the tradition of “this place” with our boys.