By Ilene Frankel
My husband and I decided that this year, our family would take a good, old-fashioned summer vacation. You know the type — fill the gas tank, load up the car, make a few hotel reservations and then start the drive. As soon as the kids heard this, they decided that it was time to start complaining.
“I don’t feel like going away for that long,” protested my 13-year-old. “Can’t we make it shorter?”
“I want to go the beach!” exclaimed my 6-year-old girl.
“Do we really have to speak French?” asked my generally agreeable 10-year-old, when he heard that our destinations would be in Quebec.
A Mom’s Vacation Diary: A Family Vacation With Teens
It was then that I realized this vacation might be much more challenging than when the kids were little. How is it possible that I was longing for the days when our suitcases were filled with binkies, blankies and diapers? Despite the protests, we took off on our weeklong road trip. My husband would be the designated trip photographer. I would write a trip diary to accompany the photos. I had envisioned finding some quiet time to reflect on the day and jot down some memories. Apparently, that was too ambitious. Our days were filled and I was exhausted. So, I didn’t actually write the travel diary. But, if I had, here are the chapters I would include:
Chapter 1: Long Car Rides Are No Big Deal When Everyone is All Plugged In
With DVD players, ipods, satellite radio and GPS navigation systems, long car rides are much easier than the days when we all had to lie in the way back with our pillows, listening to Barry Manilow on 8-track tapes.
Chapter 2: Reaching Consensus in Family Activities —also known as “yes, everyone is going to participate.”
Seriously, how can you object to a water slide?
Chapter 3: Why Did We Even Bother? Nobody Wants to Be Here.
So much arguing and endless complaining. Is this how our parents felt? I think they might have. I need to call them and apologize.
Chapter 4: I Am Not As Young And Fit As I Think I Am
The day I spent waterskiing with my two older kids was very humbling. After years of bragging to the kids about my waterskiing prowess, I was thrilled to have the chance to share this activity with them. The kids looked great on skis and showed me everything they had learned at camp. I was very proud. When my turn came, I jumped in the lake, eager to show them tricks I hadn’t tried in more than 25 years. I wanted to show off. Big mistake. I strained my hamstring and suffered from leg pain for the rest of the trip. Very embarrassing.
Chapter 5: I Might Really Be Starting To Relax
After five days we are finally getting into the rhythm of the vacation. Has the complaining stopped? Or have I just tuned it out? Either way, I have noticed some great family moments. The kids pulled the headphones out of their ears. They are fighting less and playing together more. They even taught us a fun new game to play in the car.
Chapter 6: Heading Home
It’s hard to believe it’s that time already. Dare I ask, “Where are we going to go next year?”
Ilene Frankel is a mother of three, and the Assistant Director of Entrepreneur Institute at University School in Ohio.