Well, hello there.
It’s taken me a while to write about our spring break travels because, truthfully, I was exhausted. And still processing the whole thing, which I’m really not finished doing, but maybe that’s fine by me. I should quit processing while I’m still ahead.
Here’s some good news: my husband and I survived spring break travel with our teenager and our tween. We did! We survived!
Here’s some better news: we’re never going to travel with our children during spring break again. Like, ever.
Those of you who have–past or present–traveled with the spawn from your loins during spring break are probably shaking your heads and making those sympathetic clucking noises and wondering why it took us so stupidly long to come to this conclusion, and I’ll tell you.
We’re this stupid because we don’t travel with our kids during spring break.
Or at least, we haven’t in many, many years…like back when they were wearing inner tubes and water wings in the swimming pool, and everyone knows that travel with small children is a soul-sucking endeavor.
But they’re older now.
It shouldn’t be so bad.
Let’s rewind a little.
Back in December, when my husband found out that he had spring break off this year (at the same time as both of our children!) we thought we were the luckiest devils alive. My husband never has spring break off. It’s just the way of the world.
We tossed off a few possible destinations: Hawaii? Florida? Caribbean? Nah, too far away. Chicago? NYC? Nah, too cold. Palm Springs? Too geriatric.
Mexico? Yeah, that’s the ticket. But we’ve been to Cancun, been to Playa del Carmen, been to Cozumel…why not try something different, like Cabo San Lucas? Wouldn’t it be nice to see the Pacific side? Settled.
We were nervous, though. An entire week away seemed a bit too long, especially in an area we weren’t familiar with. What if Cabo San Lucas wasn’t all it was cracked up to be? What if the girls got **choke** bored? Anyone knows that boredom is vacation suicide. The eye-rolling, the heavy sighing, the vindictive pouting…shudder.
A short vacation, we decided. A short vacation was just the thing to get our spring break feet wet without flooding the veritable boat. A mere four days total–three full days in Mexico, with half days of travel. Only three days in Mexico.
Three days in Mexico turned out to be genius. In fact, it was the one flipping thing we did right about this whole business. Give the hubs and I a huge shout and shake your tailfeathers, folks! WE DID ONE THING RIGHT! Boo ya! We rule!
After that victory, we then proceeded to jack everything else up.
We made many mistakes, but the most glaring error we made was this: We became completely consumed by our fear of our kids’ potential vacation boredom. Consumed, held hostage, eaten alive. By fear. That our kids would be bored. On a beach vacation in Mexico.
Fueled by this fear, my husband and I spent hours and hours and
hours days researching resorts in Cabo, searching for the perfect place for our cherished fledglings to roost and spread their pretty wings for a few days.
We found, after extensive effort, a resort that seemed to fit the bill, much to our relief. Never mind that it really didn’t have what we, the adults, wanted. Who cares?! We’re adults. We’re used to sacrifice.
We’re also morons.
Woe to the parents who plan the family vacation around their children’s happiness.
It’s lunacy. I mean, say it out loud to yourself, right now. Say, “Let’s go on a family vacation! And let’s plan every last detail around what we think is going to make the children happy. And not bored. Like even for a second.”
Can you believe that you’re saying something that dumb?
Were our parents ever fearful that we, the children, would be entertained on a family vacation? Did they give one rip if we were bored? Or particularly pleased? No. No they weren’t. Because our parents knew the natural order of things.
In the natural order of things, parents don’t fear children.
Our parents knew that animals can sense fear, and child-animals are the worst. Child-animals have particularly keen radar–the barest whiff of fear, and parents are toast.
How did my husband and I lose sight of this?
Our spring break vacation was a costly reminder that if you care too much about your children’s happiness, you make yourself and everyone else mis-er-a-ble.
Ah, misery. Les Miserable. Let me count the ways.
Primary source of misery was the attitude of our 11-year old tween, which pretty much boiled down to this:
Tween Bee decided that not only was she not excited about us, she was not interested in vacationing within one hundred feet of our presence. She seemed annoyed that she actually HAD parents.
Other things that annoyed her: sun, water, friendly people, fresh air.
Contact with those annoyances caused her emotions to go from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. Our parental insistence that she have contact with the above annoyances = volcano of tween stanky attitude.
She spent nearly all of the three days in Mexico barricaded in the hotel room. She did not swim, she did not frolic on the beach, she did not partake in tennis or any of the offered activities. She deigned to come out for meals but was not excited about those, either. In fact, she went on hunger strike the last night. I ordered her a slice of chocolate cake for dinner (in a to-go box), sent her back to the room and called it good.
Given Minx 2’s level of foul, her self-imposed exile should have come as a relief, but I was heartbroken, and then depressed, and then furious.
I may have, when she was out of earshot, referred to her as “that ungrateful little ShitSnack.” More than once.
Moodiness must run in the family.
And then there was the case of Minx 1. The fifteen year old who is usually game for anything and remarkably, is still not completely ashamed to be seen with us. She was excited to experience a different part of Mexico and get every inch of her body covered in sand playing beach volleyball. She arrived at the resort in open-hearted good cheer.
And…*cue the theme song from the movie “Jaws”*…
Invasion of the college spring breakers.
They were drunk. They were horny. And they were everywhere.
There wasn’t anywhere you could go, or anywhere you could look, without being assaulted with the presence of Homo Sapiens Intoxicatus and Homo Sapiens Nakedicus.
Let’s just talk about that naked part for a minute, can we?
Now, I am under no illusion that I’m even remotely young anymore, but what the fuckity is passing for a “swimsuit” nowadays? Those college chickadees were nekkid. Butt floss and teeny titty hats, that’s what passes for a swimsuit nowadays, apparently.
It’s nauseating enough to see one or two people wearing those things, but droves and droves of them? Giggling and shrieking and lurching (and hanging out of the teeny titty hats while they totter)…ugh.
Poor Miss D.
It was like she’d landed on some perverted Galapagos Island, forced to study foreign species that she never expected to encounter.
After the first day at the resort (and getting an eyeful), she abandoned any attempt to brave the swimming pool or touch the beach and refused to dunk anything but her feet in the hot tub, which was a wise, wise decision because what went on in that hot tub was epic grossness.
Right around 5pm, H.S. Intoxicatus and H.S. Nakidicus migrated–in droves– from the beach and the swimming pool to congregate in the giant hot tub overlooking the ocean, boozy slushies in hand. They packed into that thing like oversexed sardines, and as the night went on…well, I think you can imagine.
“Damn, this is nasty stuff,” my husband hissed in my ear, as we were attempting to watch the sun set one evening. “How many foreign and sticky bodily fluids are floating around in that thing, do you think?”
“There’s not enough chlorine on the planet,” I replied.
Thus our nickname for that ill fated jacuzzi: The STD Hot Tub Time Machine.
Every night, the STD Hot Tub Time Machine was thrumming.
We avoided it at all cost and even a cursory dunking of the feet caused some heebie jeebies.
All of that flesh on display had another unexpected fallout. After the first full day, Miss D. refused to wear a swimsuit. I packed three (quite age-appropriate) swimsuits for her–swimsuits she used to really like–and she refused to wear any of them. Her body was remaining covered, thank you very much.
You might think I’d be relieved by this show of modesty but truly, I was heartsick. I didn’t want her to feel like she had to hide behind baggy t-shirts.
Perhaps I’m spoiled that my 15-year old daughter still hasn’t decided that her body is fat, or disgusting, or something she needs to eye with hardened scrutiny. I guess that is pretty remarkable. My daughter likes to swim and play beach volleyball and eats food with gusto. I’ve been so lucky in that regard, that she hasn’t been messed up about the way she looks. At least not yet. And every day, I’ve thanked the stars for it.
By the time I was D.’s age, I was well versed in the language of self-loathing and starvation. I lived on Diet Coke, carrot sticks and Dexatrim tablets. I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw.
I never wanted that for my daughter. That kind of mentality is insidious and damaging and it distorts everything you see.
So I started to worry, and when our three days were up, I gathered our battered family and we hopped a plane home and I prayed to all that is holy that we didn’t ruin everything.
I’m going to cautiously say that we didn’t ruin everything. We maybe ruined three days, but not everything.
I’m hopeful, because as soon as our plane hit Colorado soil, both of my girls seemed to revert back to their past, pre-spring-break selves.
The volcanic, snarly tween morphed back into the slightly sullen, moody tween, with her nose in a book.
The body-conscious teenager immediately changed into her pajamas and polished off a plate of scrambled eggs, toast and bacon.
Maybe those kids will be all right.
The parents, however, may be another story.
We’re still recovering.
And we’re locking up those dang suitcases for a long time.