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Challenge: Summer Fun

Family Vacations: A Test of Patience and Expectations

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It’s summer and you’re going on a vacation! But like birthing a child, you’ve forgotten what last summer’s family vacation was like, haven't you? Bless your little toddler parent hearts! Well then, let my recent experience be your guide in preparing for the blood, sweat, tears and exhaustion that goes into making memories for your kids.

Last month, my husband Josh, son Huck (almost 3) and I were on a trip in Florida. I say a trip and not a vacation, because trips are for adults traveling with kids. Vacations are what those adults need when they return. But you know that.

Tuesday, day three:

7:30am: I snuck out of my toddler’s bed, which I snuck into at 3am after faced with a choice between smothering my snoring husband with a pillow or waking a sleeping child to get some sleep myself.

9:00am: My husband creeps up the hall only to have his big dopey hand hit the doorknob to the door of my son’s room, dropping on the tile floor the empty can of Monster energy drink that he, (help me understand this) drank before he fell into a deep slumber.

And the day starts.

Out comes Huck hurling demands. “Mommy, I want milky. I want cake. CAKE!”

“We don’t have cake. How about some berries?” I say, thinking of how I’ll soon need a line of equity to finance his expensive berry addiction. He settles for the berries.

10:00am: Beach club opens. Huck has a meltdown over the bathing suit choice I laid out. His life is ruined.

On the way out the door, my husband puts a hardback David Baldacci book under his arm. ‘Are you kidding me?’ I think as I look at the stack of towels, bags and beach toys we are lugging to keep Huck entertained for a few hours.

“You’re cute for thinking you’re going to read on the beach,” I say.

He says nothing and slides the book back on the counter, turns on his heels and walks out the door.

The frat boys are strutting around the pool like puffins, stealing glances at the young women indifferent to their mating calls. I vacillate between eyeing their defined jawlines and remembering I’m old enough to be their mothers.

We finish setting up by the pool and Huck announces: “I want to go to beach!” Of course, he does. So off we go, Huck leading his parents, Sloth and Chunk, who follow obediently behind, dragging his beach toys he’ll never play with down to the sand.

After a few moments of joy with the three of us in the calm, clear water, we suggest lunch and he tells us he wants chicken nuggets but not chicken nuggets. This is a trick my training did not prepare me for. I order him chicken nuggets. He doesn’t eat them because he didn’t want them. He wants ice cream. I tell him to pick anything but creamsickle since we have them at home. He picks the creamsickle.


Back in the pool, Huck wants to crash the party of two kid-free adults having an intimate conversation. Meltdown ensues while I try to thwart my son cock-blocking two strangers. Oh, to be these people, I recall once being. But they are not my people. Where are my people? Nearby my ears perk up as I hear a dad yell “you want to go home with him? Keep it up!” And at the same time, I hear a woman shout “I do NOT want to hear ‘MOMMY’ for AT LEAST 30 minutes, do you hear me?” Ah, right there; those are my people.


2:00pm. Time to go home for a nap, and I’m gearing up for the battle. Out of the car, Huck squats and pees in the driveway. I may have once judged parents if I saw their kid doing that, but you know what? F**k that old me. Also, hey girl. I miss you!

In his bed, I doze and wake with a tootsie roll wrapper stuffed in my ear. WTF? We don’t even have tootsie rolls! Huck bangs his head on the headboard and says “Oh f**k”. I can’t say I don’t know where he learned it because I do. He learned it from me. I’m the potty mouth mom. Add that to the list of things I need to address. Someday.

6:00pm: After giving up on a nap then taking a drive to kill time, I notice that Huck has a hang nail on his toe that needs to be clipped. In that moment, I wonder what it’s like to be kicked in the face by a horse. And even then, I’m still not convinced it’s any worse than clipping a toddler’s toenails.

8:00pm: Dinnertime, and Huck barely eats. We pull out the bribes – no beach or pool if you don’t eat. But who are we kidding, we’ll do all of those things tomorrow.


9:30pm: Bedtime. “Read books please!” Huck demands. We make suggestions on books and he says “No, read Elbow Grease!” He doesn’t want Shel Silverstein, Eric Carle or Dr. Seuss. He wants Elbow Grease by world renowned literary author, John Cena. Yes, that John Cena. And this one, and that one, oh and here he is too. Sure, John Cena, you are now a children’s book writer, you with your muscles, and chiseled features and perfect smile. Now you wrote a book that I have to read every night. I want to hate you. But I sort of also want to touch your perfect face.

10:15pm: Lights out. I close my eyes and wait for the sound of heavy breathing from my sweet little boy before I sneak out. But I’m no match for the exhaustion that overtakes my body. The next thing I know, it’s 6:45 the next morning and I’m still in the same position with a toddler’s hand spread across my face and his little pinky finger up my nose.

The sun is rising. The view is breathtaking. And the new day begins.

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