Monday, August 20, 2012
Lessons Learned from Vacation
1. When trying to act all frugal and like a "smart supporter of small businesses who's going to avoid the expensive rest area on the highway," well, don't. Stay on course. Don't deviate from the interstate. At least not with kids. Not with kids who refuse to eat at all the cute lobster shacks dotted around ultra-touristy towns like Wells and Kennebunkport, towns so evolved they don't have a darned McDonalds or any sort of (the horror!) fast food chain establishment. Oh, and while you're at it, don't assume the roads off certain highway exits have to "lead back to the highway eventually," unless by eventually you mean a half-hour later, after wasting more gas than you would have spent on the hiked up prices at the rest area if you'd never gotten off the highway.
2. Of course it's next to impossible, but during vacation it's wise to at least attempt to keep the kids on a bedtime schedule somewhat similar to home -- or they will turn into the spawn of the devil about five days into the trip.
3. It is possible to finally light a fire after using about 273 matches.
4. If it were up to Ethan, his vacations would involve taking walks, watching DVDs, eating, swimming, and watching more DVDs. He gravitates toward the portable DVD-player like a moth to light. He plays with the cord; he starts asking at about 7:30am if he can watch DVDs. This gets tiring. Prolonging his gratification is a must and is good for him. This year he tried fishing for the first time. He got interested in poking at the fire and roasting marshmallows. He even made a five-minute attempt at Tinker Toys. Pushing and pushing gets exhausting, and during vacation it's sometimes hard to know when to push and when to just let him vedge. But it has helped him crawl just a bit out of his comfort zone.
5. Grandparents should not make up stories about Bigfoot sightings in the state of Maine just before they leave me to stay alone with the kids for two nights before Dan arrived.
6. Looking up and seeing a jillion starts reminds me how small I really am.
7. If the skies open up and it's one of those miserably rainy days when outdoor time is impossible, don't take your kids to see the movie Ice Age part-whatever, unless you have lots of popcorn. And are open to a nice nap in the dark. And I quote Ethan: "How many more minutes until this movie is over?!"
7. If you are going to take kids to a national park and tell them they may have a chance to go swimming at the campground, but later tell them there is unfortunately not time to go swimming, they will completely forget every cool, scenic thing they saw for the past 10 hours and will sob as if their hearts were ripped out because they couldn't swim in the dinky pool, despite having swum all week in the lake.
8. If you already have a wild imagination and are not terribly fond of wild creatures of any kind, it's probably not wise to read a book called "Night of the Grizzlies," about grizzly bears ripping people out of their tents and subsequently chewing them to death, if you are ever going to go tent camping. It makes no difference that there are no grizzlies in this part of the country. You will awake and hear a rustling in the woods (that turned out most likely to be raindrops dribblinging on the tent roof) and imagine a bear is sniffing the lobster juice from dinner you are still wearing, a hungry bear who will soon be extending a long, sharp claw into the nylon of your tent and going for the kill.
9. Maine whoopie pies are really, really bad but so, so good.
10. To estimate your travel time to or from a destination, take whatever the GPS tells you, and, if you have kids in tow, add at least two hours. The trip will include at least three bathroom stops, a stop for gas, a stop because someone's thirsty, a stop because someone's hungry, and possibly a stop to prevent someone from pounding someone else to smithereens in the backseat.
Farewell, summer 2012. It's time to take on the fall!