Books and TV shows often claim that teachers assign a “What I did on my Summer Vacation” project at the beginning of the school year. None of my teachers ever gave me such an assignment. I feel like it would’ve been a little “book reporty” anyways, and my actual summer reading books were more interesting than my real life. I swam in our pool and pretended to beat the Russians in synchronized Olympic water gymnastic with my sister. Scout, Huck and Jim, and Ramona led much more exciting and lesson-lending lives.
Summer is far from over (it’s just after July 4th!), but we already took our summer vacation “trip.” I’m happy to say that I learned a lot on my summer vacation, and will gladly report on this.
“What I learned on my Summer Vacation”
For my summer vacation, my family and I visited our friends in Pittsburgh, PA. I have been friends with the mother of this family for 15 years, and we have seen each other through many stages of semi-adulthood and adulthood. Our kids like each other. Our husbands like each other. It’s a win-win-win. Here is what I learned.
1.) If the UPS man will not drive you to the stadium, persevere.
When we arrived in the ‘Burgh, we tried to go directly from the airport to a Pittsburgh Pirates game. BIG mistake. We got lost (did you know every bridge there is yellow?), the game started, there was no place to park, and tempers and hunger pains escalated quickly. Finally I told my husband I’d drop him and the kids off at the stadium and find my own way there. He was surprised, but agreed (because he was hungry, annoyed, and loves baseball). Was it easy to get to the stadium by myself in a city I’ve never been to when my internal compass has been compared to that of a lemur (hey, is that a cliff…)? No. Were the 2 hours I spent missing the game and persevering despite obstacle after obstacle worth it? Yes. I missed most of the game, but I got there in the end. I also reignited the sense of innovation I had when I was younger in the process. I asked everyone I saw to help me. This included the UPS guy, who would not bring me, but sent me to nearly hotel with an uber driver. I was brave and I did it.
2.) It’s just food.
If you are in my inner circle, you know I have
just a touch a lot of food anxiety, and I’m convinced everything I eat will make me sick. On vacation I decided to actually eat 80/20 like I prescribe on this blog. I did it and I survived. My children are picky eaters, so I also worry about what they will eat. My very down to earth friends were not worried. They gave us plenty of food, plenty of options, and just didn’t make a big deal about it. My youngest protested and ate only grapes for dinner one night. No one bought in, and he was fine.
3.) The kids will be ok. Really, they will be ok.
I am sometimes accused of having trouble relaxing (What?!?!). While the kids all played in our friends’ yard, I kept looking for something to do. Didn’t we need to plan dinner? Didn’t the kids need entertaining? No and No. The kids were fine. All I had to do was sit there, drink a hard orange soda, discuss the merits of Korean food and gummy candy, and enjoy my friends’ company. Same thing happened when we went on their boat two days later. We mostly left the kids alone and they mostly were fine. I floated around and ate PB & J. Sure, there were little issues at bedtime (mainly who would get to share the blow up bed and the bunk beds), but it worked itself out. I really took off my cruise director cap. It really was get what you get and don’t get upset. And guess what? NO ONE GOT UPSET. (ok, one got a little upset, but come on!)
4.) Try new things
My college roommate and I always joked that our collective motto was, “don’t try new things.” She meant it in reference to dining out, meaning not stray from a favorite menu item to branch out. Over time, I expanded the phrase to my whole life. I’m a very anxious person, and sticking to what I know gives me comfort. On this trip, I branched out. We went to a museum I knew nothing about and loved it. We took an incline tram car up the side of a small mountain/big hill and had a blast (after I decided the tram would not derail and send us plummeting to our death). I tried french fries on my salad and was very impressed. I could’ve just done my normal things. But I didn’t.
5.) Hide the Fruit Snacks
I think this should be clear, but of you have a large box of Annie’s gummy Bunny snacks and my kids are around, you should hide them. Quickly and stealthily.
Family vacation is not synonymous with family trip. I often argue this point to people who return from their supposed “family vacation” exhausted. It takes physical and mental effort to go away with kids, but it can still be enjoyable. This time, instead of looking for relaxation, I just sat back and some relaxation-and a lot of fun-found its way to me.