Memory 1: Seeing the Ocean
My kids haven’t seen salt water since they lived in Thailand, and that was before they could walk upright. Because we now live in a landlocked province, they’re not exactly sea-savvy. We’ve grown tired of them asking “Is that the ocean?” every time we drive past a slough in a farmer’s field. So, we decided to spend Christmas 2009 in that famous ocean state, Arizona, and threw in a side trip to Southern California.
The Great Part: Vivian and William held hands and watched the waves lap at their feet while the sun set over the Pacific. The surfers in the background completed the holiday backdrop.
The Not-So-Great Part: A slow but persistent wave swarmed the kids, sending Vivian into a salt-water-face-plant. I believe the surfers heard her wails.
Memory 2: Co-Sleeping
When you have twins, co-sleeping isn’t a huge option, or at least it wasn’t for me. In the odd moment my newborn twins weren’t breastfeeding, they were either on the floor amusing themselves or they were in their crib. On this vacation some five years later, however, co-sleeping became our reality. A trio of issues — sick kids, small beds, and big parents in need of a diet — meant a nightly debate over whose turn it was to sleep with mommy.
The Great Part: There are few pleasures that rank up there with cuddling with a warm-bodied little one.
The Not-So-Great Part: On more than one night, I awoke mid-sleep-cycle, gripping the edge of bed like it was the final handhold above an Everest crevice. My little five-year-old, about a quarter of my weight, had successfully completed a hostile takeover of the bed.
Memory 3: Intergenerational Play
The Great Part: There is something special about watching kids interact with your own parents. For me – and for many people of my generation – it’s the chance to see your father be an involved grandparent rather than a distant dad. Watching my mom was a reminder of great parenting techniques, such as how to use distraction as a crisis management tool. Sometimes I think she’s clairvoyant, anticipating disaster and then averting it through her “Come see this” strategy.
The Not-So-Great Part: Witnessing three generations vomit (see the latter part of Memory 4).
Memory 4: Sharing
The Great Part: In the confines of the RV we’re staying in, I watched Vivian give William two pairs of her cards so that their game of Fish would end up tied. Later that day, mere moments after she was walloped by a wave, Will offered to lend his dry jacket to his sister. “I’ll share with you, Viv,” he said, removing his coat.
The Not-So-Great Part: On the plane, we listened to the girl in the seat behind us vomit her way to Phoenix. Hours later, in the rental car on the interstate, Vivian upchucked everywhere. If you ever wonder what happens to new-car-smell, I’m pretty confident it’s trumped by barf. Vivian continued to spew every thirty minutes till late that night, at which point she became catlike, noisily dry-heaving a hair ball. The next victim was William, who outdid his sister by adding three new symptoms: earache, high fever and rash. And then came the adults. By the time my husband had gagged his way to wellness, half our holiday was over.
Memory 5: Seeing the Excitement in Their Eyes
The Great Part: There is a truth inherent in the cliché, through the eyes of a child. I had forgotten about the miracle of flight until I heard my kids’ play-by-play commentary. And then there’s the excitement of Christmas…brought to households by the magic of marketing and consumerism.
The Not-So-Great Part: By the time we flew home, Vivian and William’s new toys were packed away and barely missed, and airplane awe was replaced with an are-we-there-yet mantra.
And fortunately for all of us, we were nearly there, proving yet again that although it’s good to go away, it’s also great to come home.
From our vomit-free household to yours, Happy New Year.