December 24, 2001

Travels with my Kids

This is only the third time in about fifteen years that we're spending the last two weeks of December at home. Most of those years we've been in Florida, visiting Dad and Stepmom, who were snowbirds.

Since 1987 we've made the 1650 mile (each way) trek by car.

Cost wasn't the only reason for that - we became fed up with the airlines because an Air Canada strike in 1987 preempted our plans.
The travel agent made a valiant attempt to find us alternate bookings but the best he could come up with was an eight hour (or more) jaunt that involved changing planes in Chicago (!) and North Carolina.

I was not about to do that with my rather active and vocal children, who were three and six at the time.

A normal nonstop flight to Florida takes about three and a half hours.
The road trip took three days.
Each way.

I packed more distractions for the kids than anything else. I also shamelessly bribed them, with rewards for each "good" hour. At first those consisted of stickers, but in later years became quarters for video games.

My favourite moment in all the trips happened during the first. We were driving, endlessly, somewhere in the Carolinas, when a car cut us off a little too closely for Hubby's liking.

"Ass!" he said.
From the back seat, Rob (who was three): Daddy used a bad word!
Hubby: No, "ass" is another word for donkey.

More driving, and several minutes later we hear from the back seat,
Rob: Shit shit shit.
Hubby: Robert!
Rob: It's ok, "shit" is another word for horse.

I knew right then and there that raising this kid was going to be a challenge.

Then there was the year when the kids were four and seven, and we made pretty good time the first day out, landing up south of Washington, much farther than the year before.

I'll never forget waking up in the hotel on Sunday morning, to hear Mark say, "Daddy I'm itchy."

Chicken pox.

I had had it but Hubby didn't remember whether he did or not.
I called my father and he was less than eager to host a sick family.
Since we didn't want to be stuck so far from home, we turned back.

Mark had a mild case; Rob, two weeks later, had a slightly worse but quite tolerable bout.
Hubby never caught it.

Some years we travelled but not to Florida; those times we visited the niece and nephew who at one point lived near Washington DC and later moved to upstate NY.

In 1998 my father sold his condo; it was getting to be too difficult to keep up two homes. By then, my family and I had cumulatively spent several months there and it was my second home.
I knew where everything was.
I knew the neighbours.
The kids would meet the same visiting grandchildren each year at the pool.
I knew where the local parks, shopping malls and even community centers were.

It was (and still is) more difficult for me to contemplate the loss of that home than the loss of my childhood house; after all, I had been out of that one for eight years by the time it was sold.

It surprises me that I feel nostalgic about these trips; last year I was dead set against going and barely tolerated the experience.
Staying with my family in close quarters is not a vacation.

Still I miss the bright sun and the ocean.
And my father.

I'm kind of curious to hear my readers' opinions on Time Magazine's choice of Man I mean Person of the Year, New York Mayor Guiliani.
For now I'll stay out of the fray (hopefully there will be a fray, but it can wait till after Christmas if you all insist.)
Forum is open for comments!
(touch wood)

Linque Du Jour:   The Global Consciousness Project

(Also described in a less cryptic (less technical) fashion here.)

Random number generators lose their randomness on Sept. 11. Explain.

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