Archive for the ‘family travel’ Category

Parenting Tourist

A few weeks ago we went to Washington DC, where we saw the space shuttle. Fly over! On the back of an airplane! It was amazing. Some domestic observations, though, are what I’m still chewing on all this time later.

We stayed with old friends. The kind of old friends who will let you stay with them for an entire week, and not even let you see how annoying it must be at times. They have two boys who bookend ours, one a bit older and one a bit younger. The thing that was hard to miss right off the bat is that we sure do parent our kids differently. Let’s stick to the moms, shall we? Both because I try to only speak for myself and because you don’t hear a lot about Dad Competition and Dad Wars and whatever. All I probably need to sum it all up is to say that I am more permissive and less organized than my friend and fellow mom. And this is where we fight, right? And there’s weirdness and tension? I mean, she gave my two-year-old a time out the first day we were there! And then later I gave her six-year-old a lecture on good sportsmanship! Except, you know, it was totally fine. It was more than totally fine. It was a real gift to me to get the watch a mom I admire up close for an extended period of time.

I don’t know why there wasn’t any tension. I fretted about it a little bit at first. What if they found my guys annoying? What if they rolled their eyes at what may have looked like coddling to them? And maybe they did. But what they didn’t do was communicate any of that, and that’s all I could ever ask for. Whatever is going on entirely in the privacy of a person’s thoughts is none of my beeswax.

What was going on in my head was an endless series of curious observations. Might a little illustrated chart make our preschool mornings more manageable? Hey, look how refusing to tolerate arguing cuts down on arguing! Most beautiful, make your kids eat OUTSIDE while you eat INSIDE. So genius.

It was like a mini cultural exchange. Nothing as abrupt or challenging as, say, Greenland to Swaziland. More like Germany to Switzerland. Not so different to be painful, but enough new stuff to make it worth the trip.


Disney World: Suitable for Framing Edition

I led with the photos that made me laugh, but we also captured some adorable.

Elliot is READY!

Old Friends

Damon is also pretty cute.


This is me wearing what I thought was a Cincinnati Reds t-shirt. I spent a whole day looking behind me while people shouted “Go Bears!”

You can also see that Elliot is mid stroller escape. Multiply that times a million and that was our trip.

Disney World: Awkward Family Photos* Edition

“I’m tired.”

Early Morning for Elliot
Elliot is not down with an early wakeup call.

“My hair is in my face.”

Elliot is very suspicious of this gigantic donkey and his head squeezes.

“The sun is in my eyes.”

Hand In Pants = Instant Joy

*Tip of the hat to the real

Life List: Go to Disney World With My Mom and the Kids

Writing this one up was a long time coming. We did this last fall, when life was flying at me pretty fast and I was flush up against a total writting logjam.

The whole trip, that whole season, was one long lesson in how there are plans and there is what happens. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In the run-up to the trip I said the same thing to everyone who asked: “I’m looking forward to watching my kids at Disney. And I’m looking forward to watching my Mom watch my kids at Disney.” I made enormous emotional and financial investments to make it happen.

We had a great trip, but it was not the trip I anticipated.

It was hotter than we thought it would be. Herding both kids proved a big challenge. Elliot was not impressed. Mom didn’t like the crowds or the waits. The best way to cope was often to leave Elliot and Mom to play at the hotel (which was fantastic) while Damon and I took Alden on rides.

It is possible that both Alden and my Mom’s favorite part was riding the monorail. They had a routine down where she would act confused as to when it would start and where it was going, allowing him to guide and reassure her. They had lengthy debates about whether it had wheels (It does. He was right, he would like you to know.). We did many recreational circuits, Alden perched on the back of the seats.

It is possible that my favorite part was the day Mom kept both kids and let me and Damon run around Epcot Center and ride big-kid rides together.

So no, not at all what I imagined.

I did manage, though, to let go of what I was hoping for and enjoy what I was getting.

Also, indulge me in a little before-and-after:

Disney World, February 2009


Disney World, September 2010



After Vacation, and Before

Last week’s to-do list is still sitting on our kitchen counter. It says things like “Get Crocs for Alden” and “paint toenails” and “find sun hats!” Within the next hour or so I need to swap it out for one that says, “Pack pinchy fashion shoes” and “Finish sales presentation” and “Deal with the reality of 800+ email in your work inbox.”

Hey, remember that place where everyone seemed so dedicated to my leisure and enjoyment? That’s the place where I ate two desserts a day and then Damon would rub my feet, because all that having fun is hard work.

Time to start planning our next vacation.