Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Trials and Tribulations of Summer Vacation

Before I get back to work being critical of the Waltham School Committee and the WPS Superintendent and people who post anonymously and everything that bugs me in general, allow me to just offer up some Scenes of Summer Vacations Past so that you may read about them and be smug, because you would never be as stupid as I have been when it comes to summer vacations.

We are very very fortunate to have a friend who owns a cottage on the Cape and who allows us to use it for one week each summer.  The cottage is in Popponesset, which is sort of like a mythical Leave-it-to-Beaver-ville where the kids ride bikes to a pick-up softball game at the Community Center each morning and families swim in the gentle surf of the Vineyard Sound each afternoon and the parents, with red Solo cups in hand, walk to the Marketplace with the kids in the evening to listen to live music and eat lobster rolls and ice cream and play mini-golf.  Except that it really does exist.

Having gone here every year since my dear friend somehow thought that it would be a good idea to allow me to bring actual real children to her charming cottage, I have some advice.

Tip Number One: If you have a two year old, and are pregnant, it's not a good idea to bring the two year old to the cottage without his dad and then invite your uncle.  Because the two year old will think that your uncle, whom he has met only once or twice, is some sort of replacement for Daddy, and no amount of cell phone calls will convince him otherwise.  He will refuse to be bought, even though your uncle tries very hard, and will literally attach himself to you, which is uncomfortable, since you are, after all, 32 weeks pregnant.  Once Daddy arrives, the two year old will ignore you for a week.  Which is actually ok.

Tip Number Two: When vacationing with a three year old and a baby, DO NOT forget the potty seat.  If you do, your spouse will be required to drive all over the Cape looking for a store that sells potty seats and, when he finds one, your toddler will refuse to use it because it is not 'his' potty seat.

Tip Number Three: If there is a little cottage not far from the one that you are staying in that has a hand-written sign in front of it advertising "experienced babysitter available", take down the sign, call immediately, and replace the sign the day that you leave.

Tip Number Four: If you buy a fancy new bike rack to transport the bikes to the Cape, make sure that you break in the bike rack before you drive to the Cape and one of the bikes flies off of the rack on Route 24 and your kids watch out the car window as three tractor trailers drive over it, causing your oldest child to say "I never really liked that bike, anyway."

Tip Number Five: If the cottage where you are staying doesn't have a washing machine, find out where the closest laundromat is BEFORE you go.

And, finally, for your reading pleasure, here is a tale of what actually happened when we stayed (overnight) at a very swanky resort one year as a family getaway: When we arrived, we were delighted to see a menu of options for the kids.  So, we registered the kids for some of the activities, and booked dinner for the two of us at the resort's best restaurant.  The time for the kid's night out arrived.  I walked the kids to the resort bus and spoke to the driver and asked him to take the kids to the Kids' Night Out on the other side of the resort.  The driver said that that wasn't a problem and the kids, ages 7 and 10 (lest you think that I am even more irresponsible than I actually am), boarded the bus and excitedly said goodbye.  I went back to join my husband for a big-arse martini on the veranda.  After a bit, we were seated for dinner and my phone rang.  I answered, and it was the Kids' Night Out supervisor.  "Is there a problem?" I asked.  "Um.  No," she said, "It's just that no one has ever just sent their kids on the bus before." No one.  Ever.  We are the worst parents in the world EVER.  "So, do your kids have any allergies?  And do they want plain or pepperoni pizza?"  Questions answered (No and Plain), we continued our dinner.  So as not to be castigated, we finished dinner and then boarded the bus to fetch our kids from the Kids' Night Out; the only option being to let them find their way back on the bus, but that seemed wrong.  The bus was filled with people who had been drinking longer and more than we had.  The bus driver dropped us off where we thought we should be; when we couldn't find the KNO, Kevin sprinted across the drive to flag down the bus to have the drive help us find the location.  It was pitch black.  With the help of all of the drunken people on the bus, we finally saw the path to the cabin where the KNO was.  We went in to collect our kids, and they told us that they had been dropped off at the health club, not at the cabin, and so had missed a lot of the activities while they waited patiently for someone to come and take them to KNO.  Finally the mess was figured out and that was when the KNO supervisor called me to ask about pizza toppings, failing to mention that my kids had been at a health club unsupervised for 45 minutes.  We waited in the dark for the bus to bring us back to the Mansion and then went to our room and woke up for croquet in the morning.

Moral of the story: put your kids on the bus.  They will have an adventure.  And always finish the martini.