So there are things that a dad does because he is a dad and well that is just part of the job, and things that he does because he loves to do them. Going on vacation with the entire family is one of those things that for a lot of guys could go either way. I am not going to lie and say that I am not the same.
This last month we took a trip to Florida. Flying with a family the size of ours is really out of the question and the budget so we planned to drive.
I like to get started early, this can be a challenge with one or two kids. I remember those days. Loading them up in the back of the Corolla trying to keep them asleep while you buckle them into their car seats. Failing that and hoping that if you drive smooth, and don’t turn on the radio they will fall back asleep and let you get a few hours on the road before they see the first McDonald’s sign and start asking for breakfast, and bathroom breaks.
Needless to say, with 9 kids starting early never goes as smoothly as I would like. The van is noisy, the older kids don’t fall asleep just because the engine is running, and you need the radio on to keep them quiet so they don’t wake up the younger ones. And it is a law of physics or something that when you ride in a big van that you will get 26 miles from the last bathroom break before someone will need to go again.
This trip was no different. After a false start where everyone was almost out the door when I discovered the van would not start due to a dead battery. Fixing that and getting on the road an hour later, and then finding out that one of the younger kids gets car sick, and stopping to clean them up, we did finally make it to our destination.
This is starting to sound like one of those things that a dad does because as a dad it is part of the job, but in truth I had been looking forward to this for a long time. I really like traveling with the family. Sure there are problems. When I was standing in the park and ride and hour from the house, already and hour and a half after I had planned to be at this point in the trip, cleaning vomit off a car seat and a half asleep kid, covered in soda because when I opened the back of the van the things had shifted and several cans spilled out onto the asphalt splitting and spraying all over me, I will admit it was one of those moments when I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Sure there are issues with kids getting sick and cars that won’t start, and bickering in the car, but in the end, we are a family and we have a lot of fun together.
Because of the size of the family, (11 if you count my wife and I) we don’t travel a lot. So when we do travel it is a huge deal. The older kids can remember being in hotels before, but for the younger ones (and there are always young ones who don’t remember) this is something totally new. Doing things like riding up in the big glass elevator, swimming in the hotel pool, going in the hot tub, seeing a pull out bed, beds that have more pillows on them than bodies that could possibly fit in them, maybe nothing new to you, but to the little ones are all new and exciting. Some times it is like watching a little kid on Christmas.
In my experience that is what it is all about. It it is not about is this vacation for you or for the kids, it is about enjoying it together. Doing things as a family. Watching the younger ones doing things for the first time, even if that is pushing the elevator button. Watching the older kids do things for the first time like taking pictures of the dolphins chasing fish right out of the water. So relax and enjoy your vacation.