My Summer Vacation
Growing up, our family did not go on a real summer vacation very often. When we did, there were a lot of rules and structure surrounding it to the point where it wasn’t as fun as it could have been. My parents didn’t grow up with vacations so they probably figured that at least we were getting something and we should be more grateful than we probably were.
I vowed that I would take my kids somewhere awesome every single year. Ideally, we’d spend a week at the beach and then 1 to 2 weeks somewhere amazing like Spain, Australia, Dubai, or Disney World. Now that I’m a single mom, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t realistically provide all of those things and continue to pay the mortgage.
*Myth buster: Teacher’s don’t get paid during that glorious 3 month vacation (really 9 weeks) so yeah, I have to scrimp, save, and work part-time summer jobs so my kids can have swim lessons and eat 3 meals a day.
Remember our Christmas story? This is the summer vacation version.
Still, I don’t want my kids growing up saying “you never took us anywhere or did anything fun with us”. So I planned a mini- vacation to my favorite beach town and I was going to brave up and take both boys by myself. Everyone who knows my kids and how worn down I am, thought that I had lost my mind. People were worried that not all of us would make it back alive, but I was willing to take my chances. Enter in my sister Adrienne, or as the boys refer to her “Auntie”.
Of course, my car broke down like a champ (see my last blog post) the week before we were supposed to leave. Auntie rented a car, then my car got fixed so I told her to cancel it. Then my car died again (typical) so I rented a car, but then she also rented a car… this is how the vacation started.
Day 1 Vacay
The whole three and a half hours to the beach my kids fought with each other and whined about the car ride. One of the kids had brought his Kindle but the other left it at home. This was the source of most of the fighting. There was a lot of,
“He won’t share!”
“But he’s trying to take my Kindle”
“You’re a stupid idiot!”
“Yeah, well, you’re a moron !”
In unison Auntie and I turned around and shouted, “don’t make me pull this car over” and “do I have to come back there?”.
“Oh my God! We’ve turned into dad!” I said.
“I’ve been dying to use those lines, I’m not going to lie,” my sister responded. “There are a few more I’m saving up for later.”
We reached the beach around 6pm and we decided to check in and then go straight to the beach. That definitely improved everyone’s mood. Then we went back to the hotel, changed and went across the street to an outdoor carry out place. It wasn’t until after we placed our order and paid that they told us there was a forty minute wait. It was already 8:45pm. That sums up day one.
We started off the day by heading to Sunsations in search of flip flops and fun beach toys, including a boogie board. My sister, always has to glam up and choose, the biggest and most unique of anything so she bought a huge, hot pink raft because it reminded her of a raft that came with “swimming pool” Barbie, a favorite childhood toy. Of course, the boys wanted to buy a whole bunch of other crap like monster trucks and fidget spinners.
By the way, I want to sue all stores for keeping that junk right by the cash register. The consequence to that clever marketing is that everyone gets treated to the parent- child power struggle and the ensuing temper tantrums from both parties.
My older son looked at me at one point and said, “Why can’t we just act like a normal family?”
“Uuuuhhhh… I don’t know. Why do you refuse to wear socks, under pants, shirts and shoes?”
Yes, all of the things listed above are a daily struggle with my oldest. My comment shut him up though.
The hot-pink Barbie raft was not so easy to maneuver in the ocean waves. We headed across the parking lot to the bay side which is about 18 inches deep and all but stagnant. As soon as we got settled, a guy who was fishing caught a baby sand shark. My sister loves to scare me about sharks being in the Chesapeake Bay. Apparently, this is her way of motivating me to swim faster during my open water swims. So this last race as I was getting over a nasty stomach virus and barely able to move, I did wonder if the bull heads would sense my weakness and come after me.
Did this mean there was a mama shark around somewhere? But no one else seemed too alarmed so we got in anyway. The boys took turns on the Barbie raft, until my sister (who looks like a human Barbie) pulled rank and got on with a cigarette in one hand, a water bottle full of sangria in the other and ordered my four-year-old to push her.
I looked down and saw the shadow of a slightly bigger sand shark swimming towards my son. He continued to push his “Auntie” blissfully unaware that he was about to be consumed by jaws.
“Stop! Stop moving! Stop moving for a minute,” I yelled. But as as per-usual, my son did not listen. I watched in horror as the shark swam right between his legs and under the raft. Paralyzed by fear, I could not scream to further warn them. I was just waiting for the raft to be upended and blood to start squirting everywhere as Barbie was pulled down to her horrible death. Anti-climatically, this did not happen.
About twenty minutes later I texted the story to my BFF from college.
BFF: Did you get out of there?
Me: No we stayed for another twenty minutes and then went back to the ocean where there are definitely more sharks.
Then I wondered if maybe I was not a good parent and should probably have done more to rescue my kids from the baby sand sharks. Eh… refer to one of my earliest posts, “the bat story”. That should tell you all you need to know about how good of a parent I am.
We spent a few more hours at the ocean and amazingly no one got burned. I reapplied sun screen to everyone like five times so I guess I’m a little bit of a good mom.
I finally got everyone to get out of the water and help me tear down the tent and pack our gear. It was getting late and I was hungry for Don’s seafood which I try to hit up on every beach trip. My sister had brought a water bottle full of sangria for me too but had drank the whole thing before I got my hands on it, so I drove us back to the hotel.
I’m pleased to say that everyone behaved themselves at Don’s which rarely happens. We spent our twenty minute wait taking pictures of each other in giant chairs. My soft shell crab sandwich was amazing. Not having yet refined their palates, my kids both ordered hot dogs. I ended up eating one of them, because dog-gone-it, we do not waste food in this family! Adrienne, ordered a Margarita after asking which mixed drink had the most alcohol in it. Mind you, she had also brought a water bottle full of White Zinfandel to the restaurant. I guess that’s what it took for her to tolerate the rest of us. To be fair, we are a tough crew to hang with.
After paying the check and realizing that Adrienne and I had each left a tip (luckily our waitress was really nice), we headed to Mr. Whippy’s. This is another yearly tradition, however, my younger son had never been because we skipped a couple of years and last year I came sans children because I just needed a “rehab” weekend.
After waiting in a line that was at least shorter than the one a block away at the Island Creamery, we finally got our ice cream. I got my yearly “peanut butter cup sundae”- yummy! Within seconds our ice cream started melting all over our hands. Everyone actually behaved and we were actually nice to each other for half hour. That’s the power of Mr. Whippy’s ice cream!
Sadly, the magic of ice cream ended about half an hour later back in our hotel room. The rest of the trip consisted of peed-in pants, fighting, tantrums, with some intermittent tender family moments.
We’re going on another vacation in August. I might have to bring some Valium for that one. But if we survived one, maybe we can get through another.
To summarize, for my summer vacation we…
- Went to the beach
- Fought like cats and dogs
- Spent a ton of money on food
- Swam with sharks (unintentionally)
- Ate ice cream
- Watched my sister drink all day and night and miraculously stay relatively sober
- Single Mom Unfiltered